David Bowie’s Fashionable Mug Shot From His 1976 Marijuana Bust

bowie mug shot

David Bowie always man­aged to look cool, even when he was being booked for a felony.

In ear­ly 1976 Bowie was on his “Iso­lar” tour, per­form­ing as the Thin White Duke, a per­sona he would describe as “a very Aryan fas­cist type — a would-be roman­tic with no emo­tions at all.” Bowie invit­ed his friend and some­time cre­ative col­lab­o­ra­tor Iggy Pop to trav­el with him.

In the ear­ly morn­ing hours of March 21, after a con­cert at the Com­mu­ni­ty War Memo­r­i­al are­na in Rochester, New York, four local vice squad detec­tives and a state police inves­ti­ga­tor searched Bowie’s three-room suite at the Amer­i­cana Rochester Hotel. Accord­ing to reports in the Rochester Demo­c­rat and Chron­i­cle, the cops found 182 grams (a lit­tle over 6.4 ounces) of mar­i­jua­na there. Bowie and three oth­ers — Pop, a body­guard named Dwain Voughns, and a young Rochester woman named Chi­wah Soo — were charged with fifth-degree crim­i­nal pos­ses­sion of mar­i­jua­na, a class C felony, pun­ish­able by up to 15 years in prison.

Bowie and Pop were booked under their real names, David Jones and James Oster­berg Jr. The group spent the rest of the night in the Mon­roe Coun­ty Jail and were released at about 7 a.m. on $2,000 bond each. They were sup­posed to be arraigned the next day, but Bowie left town to go to his next con­cert in Spring­field, Mass­a­chu­setts. His lawyer appeared and asked for the court’s indul­gence, explain­ing the heavy penal­ties for break­ing con­cert engage­ments. He promised the judge that Bowie would appear the fol­low­ing morn­ing, March 23.

Bowie showed up for his arraign­ment look­ing dap­per in his Thin White Duke cloth­ing. It was then that his mug shot was tak­en — so we’ll nev­er actu­al­ly know what Bowie looked like when he was unex­pect­ed­ly dragged into jail at 3 a.m. The police escort­ed the rock star in and out of the court­room most­ly through back cor­ri­dors, shield­ing him from a crowd of fans who showed up at the cour­t­house. Reporter John Stew­art describes the scene in the next day’s Demo­c­rat and Chron­i­cle:

Bowie and his group ignored reporters’ shout­ed ques­tions and fans’ yells as he walked in — except for one teenag­er who got his auto­graph as he stepped off the esca­la­tor.

His biggest greet­ing was the screams of about a half-dozen sus­pect­ed pros­ti­tutes await­ing arraign­ment in the rear of the cor­ri­dor out­side the court­room.

Asked for a plea by City Court Judge Alphonse Cas­set­ti to the charge of fifth-degree crim­i­nal pos­ses­sion of a con­trolled sub­stance, Bowie said, “not guilty, sir.” The court used his real name — David Jones.

He stood demure­ly in front of the bench with his attor­neys. He wore a gray three-piece leisure suit and a pale brown shirt. He was hold­ing a match­ing hat. His two com­pan­ions were arraigned on the same charge.

The defense lawyer told the judge that Bowie and the oth­ers had nev­er been arrest­ed before. The judge allowed them to remain free on bond until a grand jury con­vened. Bowie and his entourage went on with their tour, and the grand jury even­tu­al­ly decid­ed not to indict any­one. The inci­dent was large­ly for­got­ten until an auc­tion house employ­ee named Gary Hess stum­bled on Bowie’s mug shot while sort­ing through the estate of a retired Rochester police offi­cer. Hess res­cued the pho­to from the trash bin, accord­ing to an arti­cle ear­li­er this year in Rochester Sub­way, and in late 2007 his broth­er sold it on eBay for $2,700.

via Dan­ger­ous Minds

Relat­ed Con­tent:

John Coltrane’s Naval Reserve Enlist­ment Mugshot (1945)

Jack Kerouac’s Naval Reserve Enlist­ment Mugshot, 1943

Lis­ten to Fred­die Mer­cury and David Bowie on the Iso­lat­ed Vocal Track for the Queen Hit ‘Under Pres­sure,’ 1981

David Bowie Releas­es Vin­tage Videos of His Great­est Hits from the 1970s and 1980s

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