Counterfeits are straight copies of official releases. The distinction between counterfeits and pirate editions sometimes is blurry; therefore make sure also to check Pirates. Only counterfeit LPs and CDs are treated here, for singles I refer to Christian Frifelt's The Illustrated Bowie Bootleg File. Christian made a large part of his excellent book—covering all David Bowie bootleg LPs and CDs—available online on Bassman's Bowie Page.

Please note that a CD section currently is not (yet) available.


The Man Who Sold The WorldThe Man Who Sold The WorldThe Man Who Sold The World The Man Who Sold The World
(Mercury 6338 041), 1979/1982/1989 (Japan/Italy)

All three original editions have been counterfeited, and especially for the 'cartoon cover' counts that there probably are more fakes circulating than originals!

The 'drag cover' has been counterfeited twice, in Japan in the late 70s and in Italy in the early 80s. The Italian counterfeit is easy to expose, as it has a poorly reproduced sleeve that lacks the textured appearance of the original, and has a white rather than black record label. The Japanese counterfeit is a much better copy, but it can be identified by the slightly cropped photo's on the cover (on the front Bowie's feet touch the edge of the sleeve on the counterfeit, whereas they by far don't on the original) that also has a different texture (it uses wax to reproduce the original wallpaper-like sleeve), the spine (on which the album title and catalogue number have been inverted), and the record label (which is dark grey instead of black, with a silver edge that is absent from the original, and has R 1971 rather than P 1971, plus a space in the word BRO ADCASTING). Note that most books and even the Rykodisc reissue use a photo of the counterfeit!

The 'cartoon cover' and 'round cover' counterfeits too are clever copies, but these can be identified by hand-scratched rather than machine-stamped matrix numbers in the run-out groove and the covers by alterations to the artwork. The 'cartoon cover' has had the rear artwork adjusted. Most easily noticeable is the shift of the rear cover speech bubble "Oh by jingo". On an original cover it is very close to the lyrics above (less than a lyric line space), whereas on counterfeits the speech bubble is almost three line spaces below. The original that was used for the 'round cover' counterfeit had traces of adhesive tape on its top, which have been copied onto the counterfeit.

Also see two pirate picture discs.

Star Star
(RCA DJL1-3255), 1980?

The original promo 12" (with live versions from Stage) is pressed on white vinyl, whereas this counterfeit uses black vinyl.

An Evening With David Bowie An Evening With David Bowie
(RCA DJL1-3016), 1980?

Counterfeits of this album can be identified by the absence of a black band beneath the cover picture.

1980 All Clear 1980 All Clear
(RCA DJL1-3545), 1982?

The sleeve of this counterfeit is in black and silver, rather than in the black and white of the original promo LP.

David Bowie David Bowie
(Deram DE 16003), 1988?

A copy of the US edition of the mono edition Bowie's debut LP.

Heathen Heathen
(Sony ISRC CN-G11-02-307-00/A.J6), 2002 (China).

Chinese slipcase counterfeit with the official album plus the bonus disc on a single CD. A more clever Asian counterfeit can be identified by its mention of EMI rather than Columbia!

Best Of Bowie Best Of Bowie
(a/o EMI 7243 5 41924 2 5), 2002 (Russia, Thailand, China).

Several releases of Best Of Bowie probably best qualify as counterfeits. The Thai and unofficial Russian releases are identical to the German version. There are even two Chinese editions, the first (in a card sleeve) has CD1 of the UK release, the second has both discs.

Reality Reality
(Polydor/Wellhart 9808318), 2003 (Russia).

Same track listing as the official album, plus Fly/Queen Of All The Tarts (Overture)/Rebel Rebel/Everyone Says 'Hi' (Metro Mix)/Under Pressure as bonus tracks. The artwork is really strange, mimicking but not exactly copying the official cover!

iSelect iSelect
(E 1005), 2008 (Malaysia).

Life On Mars/Sweet Thing/Candidate/Sweet Thing/The Bewlay Brothers/Lady Grinning Soul/Win/Some Are/Teenage Wildlife/Repetition/Fantastic Voyage/Loving The Alien/Time Will Crawl/Hang On To Yourself (live)/Space Oddity/The Man Who Sold The World/Oh! You Pretty Things/Changes/Fame.

A pirate version of iSelect, with a couple of bonus tracks obviously not selected by Bowie.

Low Low
(RCA INTS 5065), 2008.

A handful of albums were pressed on red vinyl, probably by a fan working at the plant. This a counterfeit that sometimes fetches high prices on auction sites. A rather clever piece of work, which can be identified by the machine-stamped 76061E1/A in the runout groove; the original has the hand-etched number INTS 5065 A1 IT.