In April 1969 David Bowie married to Angela Barnett (AKA Angie - remember the song by the Rolling Stones, it's about her). She had a big influence on his career. He was pursuaded by her to form a band.

Cane Hill Hospital

David Bowie’s third album was originally titled Metrobolist and released in 1970. By the time Mercury Records released the album they changed the title to “The Man Who Sold The world” without consulting Bowie. They even left the speech balloon empty on the album cover which should have read “Roll up you sleeves and show us your arms”. The design was by Bowie’s friend Michael Weller featuring a cowboy in front of Cane Hill hospital. Bowie’s schizophrenic half brother Terry was a patient here. The hospital was built between 1882 and 1888 and was largely demolished in 2008 and completely in 2010 after a fire destroyed the remaining parts including the iconic clock tower that is visible on the US album cover and originally intended cover by Bowie.

The Hype on stage 1970
The Hype on stage in 1970

After meeting Mick Ronson at the Marquee Club in London Bowie formed a band called Hype with bass guitarist and producer Tony Visconti, Mick Ronson on guitar and Mick Woodmansey. The last two would become also members of the Spiders from Mars. The Hype is the embryo what has become  Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.

The album cover as it was intended by Bowie

From the the accoustic blues rock of his previous album they moved to a psychedelic hard rock sound which sounds remarkable strange with songs about schizophrenia, paranoia, and delusion. In the UK the album was released with a completely different cover displaying Bowie in a woman’s dress and his long hair in those days with playing cards.

US Album cover

The album didn’t achieve anything commercially but was a step towards the stardom Bowie would reach with the Spiders from Mars and the next album "Hunky Dory" with the single "Changes".

UK album cover

Only one single was released by the Hype which was not on the album titled “Holy Holy”. This version was never officially released on CD. The Rykodisc remastered CD included the later version from from 1971 by the Spiders from Mars that was released on the B-Side of the "Diamond Dogs" single in 1974.

The album starts with "The Width Of A Circle" an 8-minute song with references to Lebanese poet Khalil Gibran, the lyrics of "All the Madmen" were inspired by Bowie's half-brother Terry Burns and reflect the theme of institutionalised madness, "Black Country Rock" is an attempt to impersonate Marc Bolan (T-Rex) in vocal style and "After All" is more psychedelic folk rock inspired lyrically by the poet and phylosopher Nietzsche. "Running Gun Blues" was about the Mỹ Lai massacre of 1968 in the Vietnam war, "Saviour Machine" about computers taking over the human race, "She Shook Me Cold" was a song by the Hype without Bowie's involvement in the blues rock style of Led Zeppelin, "The Man Who Sold The World" was inspired by numerous poems including "Antigonish" (1899) by William Hughes Mearns and the final song "The Supermen" was again inspired by Nietzsche's and particularly his work "Ubermensch".

Holy Holy single cover
Worldwide album cover from 1972

In 1972 the album reached #24 in the UK when released in the era of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Again with a competely different cover. This time a horrible black and white cover representing the Ziggy Stardust look that was soon replaced by the the first UK album cover. Finally in 2020 the album was remastered again this time with the originally intended title and album cover by Bowie.

The Man Who Sold The World / Metrobolist (1970)
The Width of a Circle / All the Madmen / Black Country Rock / After All / Running Gun Blues / Saviour Machine / She Shook Me Cold / The Man Who Sold the World / The Supermen

Rare footage from the Hype performing "The Supermen".

The Width Of a Circle

After All

The Man Who Sold The World
Holy holy - original single version