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Sunday, 24 March 2013

David Bowie

David Bowie was born David Robert Jones in Brixton, London, on January 8, 1947 to Margaret Mary "Peggy" Jones, a cinema usherette, and Haywood Stenton "John" Jones, a publicity director for an orphanage.

David's family moved to Bromley when he was six years old and he attended Bromley Technical School in London, where he was taught art by Peter Frampton's father, Owen. David got just one O Level... in art.

David started playing the saxophone at the age of 12 after his mom gave him a cream-colored plastic alto sax as a Christmas present. He got himself a part-time job as a butcher's delivery boy to pay for the cost of tuition.

The pupil of Bowie's left eye became enlarged and frozen after a fist fight with his best friend in school, George Underwood (it was over a girl). Underwood and Bowie remained good friends with Underwood doing artwork for some of Bowie's earlier albums.

His first ever release was "Liza Jane" /"Louie Louie Go Home" in June 1964, under the name of Davie Jones with The King-Bees.

David Bowie's first TV appearance was in November 1964, when he gave an interview on BBC's Tonight show as spokesman for The Society For The Prevention of Cruelty to Long-Haired Boys.

He later changed his name to Bowie to avoid confusion with Monkee Davy Jones. Bowie told Rolling Stone the name comes from the Bowie knife: "I was into a kind of heavy philosophy thing when I was 16 years old, and I wanted a truism about cutting through the lies and all that."

Bowie met his first wife, Angela, at a King Crimson concert in 1969. The relationship didn't end well, and she would later sue Bowie for $56 million. They had one child, Duncan Zowie Haywood Jones, in 1971. Jones has since gone on to become a successful film director and is the brain behind Moon (2009) and Source Code (2011). 

Bowie's first hit in the UK - 1969's Space Oddity - was used by the BBC in its coverage of the moon landing. 

Theree years later, Bowie released "Starman" on Apas as a single in the UK. It became his first hit "Space Oddity."

When Bowie performed "Starman"on the British TV show, Top of the Pops, he appeared as the flame-haired Ziggy Stardust dressed in a multicolored jump suit. Bowie strummed a blue guitar while he moved flirtatiously alongside his guitarist, Mick Ronson. It was the first time many had seen Bowie and people were fascinated by his stage presence. This performance would catapult Bowie to stardom and prove wildly influential on the next generation of English rockers. It became his first hit "Space Oddity."

 David Bowie during the Ziggy Stardust Tour 

The band Simple Minds took their name from the line “He’s so simple minded he can’t drive his module” in "The Jean Genie."

Bowie's first US #1 was his single Fame in 1975. It was co-written by John Lennon and featured the late former Beatle on backing vocals.

David Bowie introduced his Thin White Duke persona at a show in Vancouver on February 2, 1976. It was the first stop on his Isotar Tour.

Director Nicolas Roeg cast Bowie in his first movie leading role, as a stranded alien in The Man Who Fell to Earth, in 1976. 

Among the film roles Bowie has turned down include the Bond villain Max Zorin in A View To A Kill and that of Captain Hook in the movie Hook.

David Bowie took the part of Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man, on Broadway. He wore no stage make-up, and earned high praise for his expressive performance.  Bowie played the part 157 times between 1980 and 1981.

David Bowie was next on Mark Chapman's hitlist, after John Lennon. Chapman had a front-row ticket to The Elephant Man for the night after he shot Lennon.

Bowie's half-brother, Terry Burns, was severely schizophrenic. Having previously attempted suicide by jumping from a window in the hospital in which he lived, Burns succeeded in killing himself in 1985 after escaping the grounds of the hospital and laying down on some railroad tracks. Terry was the inspiration for songs including All The Madmen, The Bewlay Brothers and Jump They Say.

In  1987, David Bowie traveled to West Berlin, where he once lived and with his back to the Berlin Wall, he belted out “Heroes” with his band, crying out for liberty to the crowd in German. Thousands of East Berliners subsequently began vigorously protesting against the Communist regime. One week later Ronald Reagan stood near that same place and uttered the now unforgettable words: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."

On January 11, 2016, the German Foreign Office officially recognized Bowie’s contribution in helping bring down the wall.

Apartment building on Hauptstraße 155 in Berlin Schöneberg where Bowie lived from 1976 to 1978. By Detmar Owen - 

Bowie married Somalian supermodel Iman in 1992. She has a Bowie knife tattooed on her ankle in tribute to her husband. They have a daughter Alexandria Zahra Jones, born in 2000.

Bowie turned down a knighthood in 2003.

David Bowie in 2002 By Photographer: Photobra|Adam Bielawski. Wikipedia

Bowie attended art school and exhibited some of his own paintings. Painting "was about problem solving," he told the New York Times in 1998. "I’d find that if I had some creative obstacle in the music that I was working on, I would often revert to drawing it out or painting it out."

Bowie was one of the first artists to realize the power of the internet. In 1997 he broke new ground with the internet-only release of his single "Telling Lies." Bowie once programmed three internet radio stations on to his website. Two were available to members only, while the other played kids' songs inspired by Alexandria.

Bowie was asked by director Danny Boyle to sing his song "Heroes" at the 2012 Olympics closing ceremony, but refused. "He sadly didn’t want to do anything live," said Boyle.

At 9:57 Bowie's 2015 single "Blackstar" is the longest song ever to reach the US Hot 100.

David Bowie died from cancer following an eighteen-month battle with the disease on January 10, 2016. He had celebrated his 69th birthday two days earlier.

In the "Lazarus" video, Bowie sings from a hospital bed, a wrap covering his eyes. Doctors reportedly informed the singer the cancer was terminal and that they were ending treatment during the week of shooting the visual in November 2015

Bowie was privately cremated shortly after his death without any friends and family present, as per his wishes.

David Bowie holds the world record for number of music video plays over a 24-hour period with 51 million plays, occurring the day after his death.

David Bowie's only Grammy win during his lifetime was for Best Video ("Jazzin' for Blue Jean" in 1985). He got four at the 2017 awards.

Sources, Songfacts

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