The Real Story Behind David Bowie's Mugshot
History|Mar 28, 2022

The Real Story Behind David Bowie's Mugshot

Many Believe These Are Staged Photos, But They're Real.
Penthouse Staff

The story behind David Bowie’s mugshot is often described as one of the best. That’s partly because many mistakenly believe these are staged promotional photos. But they’re real, official mugshots taken after Bowie was arrested for marijuana possession in 1976. 

The story goes that Bowie was arrested after a performance at 2:25am on March 21, 1976, after a performance in Rochester, New York. Half a pound of marijuana was taken by the attending police. He was held with three others, including Iggy Pop, for three hours and then released on a $2,000 bond. He pleaded not guilty and a grand jury decided to pass on the case. 

In 2007, an auction house was clearing out the estate of a retired police officer and found these mugshots that had been tossed aside. They realised they had stumbled across an unknown mugshot of actual rock star David Bowie.


The photos were originally published by The Smoking Gun website and, of course, went viral. Now, these images are found on posters, t-shirts and all sorts of paraphernalia. 

Bowie would have turned 75 on Jan. 8 this year; a live-stream concert marked what would have been his birthday. 

Many long-term members of the late icon’s band featured, plus special appearances from Ricky Gervais, Gary Oldman, Duran Duran’s Simon Le Bon, Def Leppard, Walk The Moon, Living Colour and many more. 

The backing band was lead by long-time Bowie keyboardist Mike Garson and featured fellow Bowie veterans Earl Slick, Charlie Sexton, Alan Childs and Steve Elson, to name just a few. 

Bowie fans will remember the first celebration, Bowie’s Reality Tour, which took place one year after he died; several members of Bowie’s tour band played a series of shows around the world. The following year, the same talented crew staged an extensive world tour and continued to tour in various forms until the coronavirus pandemic hit and turned the world upside down.