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David Bowie and Whole Oats

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Neverending Bowie

There's an old adage that says that the three hardest dates for a musician are, in order, Christmas, Easter, and Memphis. The point's well-illustrated by a concert review of David Bowie's first Bluff City appearance. Commercial Appeal reporter Joe M. Dove described Bowie's 1972 show at Ellis Auditorium as "mostly noise."

"David Bowie probably could be a talented musician," Dove wrote in a merciless review of the concert. "But his show is not selling music. He has substituted noise for music, freaky stage gimmicks for talent, and covers it all up with volume." The writer had been led to believe the Spiders were "a ballad group" and was surprised to discover an artist capable of "out-freaking Alice Cooper on stage."

His harshest lines, however, were reserved for an opening act identified as Whole Oats: "At the least, Bowie's show can objectively be called better than that of his warm-up group, Whole Oats, a country rock quartet. Playing all of their eight numbers in a simple four-four time, the group could not even keep the attention of the crowd which spent much time milling up and down the aisles and tossing several plastic Frisbees." One of Whole Oats' final numbers was titled "I'm Sorry." Dove wrote: "It should have been dedicated to the audience."

Obviously Dove missed the boat on Bowie. But whatever happened to this forgettable country rock quartet slammed by critics and ignored by Frisbee-crazed Memphians? Nothing. The detestable act was Daryl Hall and John Oates, who went on to become the most successful pop duo in history.

D&J dubbed their partnership Whole Oats before the duo signed with Atlantic. So when the label released a promotional single, that's the name they went with. Two months after the Bowie concert, the forgettable harmony act would be identified as Daryl Hall & John Oates on their first LP, "Whole Oats."

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