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David Bowie - All about the musician: a complete biography

"David is a real living Renaissance figure. That's what makes him impressive. He goes away and reappears more than before. He doesn't have a fashion, he just keeps expanding. It's the world that has to stop sometimes and say, "My God, he's still going on..."

A biography of David Bowie, the legendary "man from the star"...

David Bowie is a famous musician, singer, actor and artist. To this day David Bowie remains one of the most influential people of the 20th century... A unique feature of Bowie's work has always been deep, meaningful lyrics as well as stage prowess. It was not for nothing that the artist was nicknamed a cultural chameleon... Bowie challenged the perception of fans and critics alike with his many supple images, which seemed to reflect cutting-edge trends. Overall, his records sold over 100 million copies! In the second half of the 90s the musician was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and 20 years later, after his death, he was declared "the greatest rock star of all time".

Early years

David Robert Jones was born on January 8, 1947. The future star's childhood took place in Brixton, a poor district of London. As David himself claimed, he determined his future at an early age. The son of Hayward Jones, a publicist, and Margaret Mary (Burns) Jones, a movie theater waitress, Bowie turned to music as a way to change his life for the better... After hearing a Little Richard single one day, the nine-year-old Bowie decided he wanted to become one of the musician's saxophone players. Soon he got his first saxophone and began working as a butcher's peddler to pay for it. After learning that jazz musician Ronnie Ross lived next door, Bowie convinced him to give him some lessons. After ten or so lessons, Bowie stopped going to Ross because he felt he was ready to become a rock star.

Bowie immersed himself in music because of lack of communication with his parents.... He often said that there was a chasm between him and his father...

"I could never talk to my father. I really loved him, but we couldn't talk about anything together. It was really a British phenomenon that was even remotely emotionally forbidden."

Attributing the phenomenon to "a classic case of British restraint," Bowie consoled himself by retiring to his room, where he was alone with his books, music, and thoughts.

As a teenager Bowie played with numerous London bands, including the Kon-Rads, the King Bees, the Mannish Boys and Lower Third. During this time he was exposed to a huge variety of musical styles and genres popular in Britain in the early to mid-1960s, most notably folk and fashion. He also studied commercial art: for a time David worked in an advertising agency, drew and acted in small stage roles.

Long live Ziggy Stardust!

In the second half of the 60s the band The Monkees was formed. The band played on TV, and very soon it became popular among the wide audience... Because of this David had to take his stage name "David Bowie": the lead singer of the band was called Davy Jones, and Bowie did not want to be confused. That same year he began to promote himself as a solo artist: he released his first singles... So the famous track "Space Oddity", which broke into the Top 5 of the British chart! Later the album The Man Who Sold the World was released, which, according to the critics, opened the doors for the glam rock genre! After the release Bowie went on his first promotional tour in the USA.

The year 1972 was particularly eventful. Bowie once again went on a promotional tour in the States, this time to strengthen his relationship with his new label RCA. Released in December 1971, Hunky Dory made him a superstar with such famous hits as "Life on Mars" and "Changes".

Cover of David Bowie's album The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars
Cover of David Bowie's album The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars

With the release of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars Bowie tried on a new image, which became a legend of the 70s music scene - Ziggy Stardust! Later the musician would be called the "chameleon of the music scene" because of his frequent transformations and variety of musical genres... Bowie himself once said:

"Now I know for sure that much of my ambition and aspiration arose from a desire to escape from myself, and from feelings of inferiority and vulnerability: I felt no love for myself... And I could banish these feelings by throwing myself not only into music, but into another image..."

David Bowie as "Ziggy Stardust
David Bowie as "Ziggy Stardust

The tour in support of the record was a real spectacle, full of theatricality and innovation!

https://youtu.be/rfrOlB6pXNI

During the same period Bowie produced Lou Reed's albums Transformer and All the Young Dudes by Mott the Hoople. He also openly declared his bisexuality, which created a lot of controversy that hasn't subsided to this day! David would later say:

"Lord, that was the biggest mistake of my life... I was very young and probably stupid then..."

In the spring of 1973 the whole world was fascinated by the talent of Ziggy Stardust... In the same period Aladdin Sane was released. Unfortunately, already in June Bowie announced that he was giving up the "man of the stars" image forever. This announcement started a trend that would continue throughout his career... The audience was in for a shock. Even the musicians in Bowie's band didn't know about it beforehand. The statement was made on the final day of the Ziggy Stardust tour.

The main stages of creativity

By the middle of the 70s Bowie moved away from the epatage: he completely abandoned the wild outfits and bright makeup, opting for a more elegant image... David Live and Young Americans were released around the same period. The track "Fame", taken from the latter, which, by the way, was written together with the iconic Beatle John Lennon, brought Bowie the first No1 in America! The composition remains an iconic hit of the '70s to this day.

Bowie soon left for Los Angeles, where he made his acting debut in The Man Who Fell to Earth.

David Bowie
David Bowie

For a while Bowie was addicted to drugs, but after settling in Berlin, where he began collaborating with avant-garde experimentalists Brian Eno and Robert Fripp, the musician sobered up and began to paint. In addition to art, he became fascinated by German electronic music. Low was soon released, bringing together electronic, pop and avant-garde techniques... And although it was met with mixed reviews, it turned out to be one of the most influential albums of the late '70s, as did Heroes, which followed it. In many ways Low baffled RCA and Bowie fans, though the single "Sound & Vision" took second place in its native UK. During this same period, Bowie also works with Iggy Pop, producing the record The Idiot.

Before releasing Lodger, Bowie traveled to Switzerland, the continents of Asia and Africa. The record saw the light of day in 1979. In the fall of '80 he made his Broadway debut as the Elephant Man. The artist received many positive reviews for his performance... Around the same time, he divorced his first wife.

Temporary departure from the stage...

With the advent of a new decade, David decides to leave the stage for a while: the musician wants to concentrate on his film career. So, roles in the films "Hunger" and "Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence" followed.

In 1983 Bowie signs a contract with EMI, soon after which the album Let's Dance is released. The hits from it were the singles "Let's Dance", "Modern Love" and "China Girl". It was followed by Tonite and Never Let Me Down.

Toward the end of the 1980s Bowie decided to form a new band, known today as Tin Machine. This was a remarkable event for at least two reasons: Bowie became part of the band for the first time (before that, he had only been a solo singer), and the band was aimed at a collaborative effort (that is, it was far from a classic Bowie project)! However, after a few albums already, the project was suspended indefinitely: David Bowie abruptly decided to revive his solo career...

Art

David Bowie...
David Bowie...

In addition to stage and film, Bowie was a figure and art collector. In his 1998 interview, the musician stated:

"Seriously, I never wanted to own anything as passionately as I wanted to own art...I wanted to live it."

And indeed: Bowie had a huge collection of all kinds of works of art! After his death, the collection was valued at more than £10 million. When the musician died, his family sold most of the collection. This brought the auction value to around £33 million! The most expensive piece of art was a painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat inspired by graffiti, Air Power: it went for over £7 million.

Personal Life and Legacy

Bowie was married twice during his life. The musician's first wife, Angela, was a model. She gave birth to David's son Duncan, who became a film director. The marriage broke up in the early 1980s... A few years later Bowie married the model Iman. In this marriage, a girl was born...

David Bowie and his wife Iman
David Bowie and his wife Iman

The legend of the music scene of the 70s-80s passed away in November 2016: the musician had been suffering from liver cancer for a long time...

Last years of life…

David Bowie on Stage
David Bowie on Stage

David Bowie was awarded the knighthood, but... declined it, commenting:

"I was never going to agree to something like that. I seriously don't understand why it's necessary. It's not something I've devoted my whole life to..."

https://youtu.be/YoDh_gHDvkk

In 2004, right on stage, Bowie had a heart attack. It really frightened the musician... Fortunately, he quickly recovered and soon resumed his music career.

Before his death Bowie released his farewell Blackstar. He died of liver cancer. The diagnosis had been made much earlier, but David did not disclose it... As his relatives told him, he continued to work in spite of everything. At Bowie's own insistence, his body was cremated and his ashes scattered in Bali... After the legend's death, sales of his records soared. Especially the last Blackstar. As the New York Times critic commented:

"It's a very strange, yet courageous work. It is overshadowed by the bitter realization of death... A few weeks will pass, and the world will know that the record was made under very grave circumstances..."

Conclusion…

Bowie has built a solid reputation in the art world as an artist and writer. According to the Virgin Records Web site, Bowie held art shows in Switzerland, Italy and England in 1996 and 1997. He also sold art exclusively through his Bowieart Web site, and his interview with the late pop artist Roy Lichtenstein was published in the January 1998 issue of Interview magazine. In May 1997, Bowie and three of his colleagues founded 21 Publishing in the United Kingdom. According to Bowieart's Web site, "21 Publishing aims to solve the cultural problems of the 21st century: it is a platform for new words, images and ideas." Nicholas Rogue, who directed Bowie in the film The Man Who Fell to Earth, described Bowie's mystique as follows:

"David is a real living Renaissance figure. That's what makes him impressive. He goes away and reappears more than before. He doesn't have a fashion, he just keeps expanding. It's the world that has to stop sometimes and say, "My God, he's still going on..."

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