Biography

17th January, 2016: Added some UK newpaper covers from the week regarding Bowie here.

I can't help but thinking the way he went of the cover of the original soundtrack LP of Bowie from his 1978 movie Just a Gigolo. Isn't it haunting? Alone, alone, alone, in that corridor in-between. Really powerful image when you think of what has unfolded, or, rather, how it unfolded. 11th January, 2016: Two days after the release of his latest album, it's been announced Bowie has died after a courageous 18 month battle with cancer. No-one outside the inner circle knew about it which makes the shock for all us all the more acute. Words, or my words, can't possibly convey what it means to so many of us who never met the man but who meant so much to us. I just cannot fathom a world without Bowie in it.

Blackstar Review >> Lazarus Video Review >> Blackstar Video Review

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14th January 2016: it's been heavily repoted that Bowie has been cremated in New York without family and friends present at his own request. Black star. Lone star, travelling between this world and the next.

I've never known any star who managed to have so much control right up to the end (or the beginning depending on your viewpoint). Everything, and I mean everything, done with class and privacy right up to his last moments on this mortal coil. It's astonishing, and Black Star, his last album, was what he gave us, the fans, to remember him by. That and his body of work, is ours and is what he bequeathed to us. Nothing more, nothing less.

Still, the shock of how events unfolded is unabated. Those hours between the release of Black Star and his death. That and that video and the lack of info. from anyone close to him as they remained loyal to him right up to the last moment and beyond. It was an extraordinary time. A cold time, a numb time for those looking upon events from the outside just had that shock announcement. Without warning, without even a whisper.

Here one moment and then gone the next. I say 'here' when I should really say 'there' as he was somewhere to most os us though we didn't know him. Just the work. But that was more than enough. Black Star has so much in it to last a lifetime. Sublimal messages from inside and out. Words and pictures of what was to come, has come and will come to us all one day.

'Closing time comes soon enough', Leonard Cohen once said. 69 is no age to join the stars.

Prepations for the journey.

Home.

With the lack of any concrete news of his last few months, I wonder about the reported last visit by Bowie with his daughter to the haunts of his times in South London. I would love to know from a local perspective all the places he went to but know I have no right to know. Doesn't stop me wondering though. Where did he visit in Beckenham? Wonder if he visited Kelsey Park. Did anyone recognise him?

A friend was telling me that when he played the Isle of Wight Festival over a decade ago now, he crossed on a Wightlink ferry. Can you imagine seeing Bowie on the ferry?? No flying in by helicopter or, as some of us believe with Bowie, walking across the water.

He was one of us at the end of the day. But, of course, he wasn't.

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For me, David Bowie is of equal importance as the Fab Four. After all, is he not the Elvis of his generation? By that I mean for those growing up in the 70s & 80s, Bowie spoke to us and touched us in a more profound way than the icons that came before. Especially for any of us growing up in the backwaters of South London where the great man grew up. It was hard to believe that such an icon grew up on those same drab streets. Bowie had been here! Can you believe that? Beckenham, Bromley, Brixton - it was all Bowieland. The genius who reinvented himself in the faraway metropolis of Berlin knew that Beckenham High Street existed! Remarkable when you think about it. You can walk down that High Street and look at all the things that Bowie had done.

Bowie, Beckenham, Bromley, Brixton, Berlin - it's all in the Bs...

To share the same postcode as him is reward enough!

Born David Robert Jones in Brixton, South London on 8 January 1947. At 13 he was playing the saxophonea nd three years later he was singing and playing with rock bands as well as woring as a commercial artist. I think that background in commercial art is crucial to the enduring legacy of Bowie's work - the iconography of the album covers is so powerful that not only does it reflect the music on the albums but it visualises the music. That is rare.

At 19, he had already recorded singles with three different groups. It was the year he began a solo career. David Bowie was born, a name he chose to avoid confusion with Davy Jones of The Monkees.

It wasn't plain sailing. His first solo album was so unsuccessful he dropped out of the music business, and began to study mime. His own mime troupe, Feathers,was formed in 1969 and he started an experimental art ensemble - neither would prove commercially successful. But in the same year he signed a deal to record another album, and from that was born the top five British hit, Space oddity.

A legend was born.

The album The Man Who Sold the World came in 1970 and in 1972 the breakthrough The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars. Glam rock scene was beginning to peak and on the back of that Ziggy Stardust made Bowie a rock-God not only in England but also in the US. Bowie became the figure for an age - cross-dressing and those different coloured eyes which were the result of a schoolyard fight that left one pupil permanently enlarged - he personified the early to mid-1970s. If you think of those times a picture of Bowie as Ziggy may well settle in your mind's eye.

Bowie became famous for constantly re-inventing himself, I say 're-inventing' but I think it would be more accurate to say his gift has always been to absorb influences and make them his own. Whether that be Kraftwerk, American soul or whatever - when it has been through the Bowie filter it has come out his own, unique to him. No more so than with Brian Eno and the Berlin years. After this came the album which I and many fans consider his most important, Scary Monsters. Out of all those Berlin years came a work which made him the biggest cult in the business.

Meanwhile in 1976, the director Nicolas Roeg cast Bowie in his first leading role, as the alien in The Man Who Fell to Earth. Seemingly, Bowie was reluctant to take on the role and he tells the tale of Roeg waiting for hours in his house for him to return so he could convince him to take the part. Though the film was a modest box-office success it became a cult over the years and the minimalistic requirements for the 'alien' role suited Bowie the actor. That being said, I have to say the film has some of the worst continuity gaffes I have seen since Night of the Demon. There is one shot where the camera is hed-on and Bowie has a centre parting: the very next shot in the same scene Bowie has a side parting! Still, it remains for me Bowie's best piece of work in a movie.

In 1983, Bowie's album Let's Dance brought him the commercial success that put him on a financial par with the likes of Phil Collins & Dire Straits but at what cost artistically? Bowie himself was well aware it had to reach the masses for he was famously on a beach in Australia and 48 hours later was centre stage at a huge press conference in London announcing its arrival. Let's Dance was as accessible as Scary Monsters had been cutting edge - it served as kind of antithesis to all that had gone before. But the public couldn't get enough of it - it sold like there was no tomorrow. Stadium anthems revebrated around the world. Seemingly, to pardon the pun, these were golden years.

So golden in fact that it took him over 10 years with the release of Outside to restore his credibilty. Bowie has since talked about his regret for the kind of work that came after Let's Dance and from the outside it does look as though his muse had temporarily flown. 1987's Never Let Me Down is my least favourite Bowie album.

Interestingly, the 80s saw his roles in film more satisfying than the music. After the glorious debacle that was Just A Gigolo at the tale end of the 70s, he was good in The Hunger (what a cast: Bowie, Deneuve & Sarandon). Nagisa Oshima's Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence and what was a disappointing film, Absolute Beginners but he was even better in the leading role in Labyrinth. There was also Pontius Pilate in Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ. Quite a body of work.

Musically speaking, the 90s saw a return to form culminating in the reunion with Eno on Outside. What an album! It takes you on a journey that at times is just plain disquietening. This is the album that should have followed Scary Monsters. Bowie should have chained Eno to the producing studio throughout his career.

1997, David Bowie saw Bowie pioneering again with the Internet-only release of his single Telling Lies. A world tour followed. He recorded a duet with Brian Molko on the Placebo track Without You I'm Nothing in 1999 before he returned back to the studio to record an album.

On 15 August 2001, Alexandria Zahra Jones was born. She was the first child of Bowie's with his second wife Iman Abdulmajid, who he married in 1992. With his first wife, Angie Bowie he had Duncan Jones, now a famous film director.

2001 also saw him opening the Concert for New York City, held to benefit the victims of the 11 September attacks in the US. The following year saw the album Heathen, then an album and tour called Reality. The following year, whilst he was performing in Oslo a lollipop hit him in the eye and a week later he suffered chest pains, which was later diagnosed as a blocked artery. Bowie had heart surgery and cancelled the last 15 dates of his tour.

Since then his output has understandably slowed down Stage appearances have been few and far between. He did take part in a duet of Changes for the 2004 film Shrek 2. 2005 saw him perform on stage with Arcade Fire and he made a radio commercial with Snoop Dogg the same year.

The accolades which had decorated his work throughout his career culminated with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award on 8 February 2006. On 29 May he made a surprise appearance at David Gilmour's concert at the Royal Albert Hall.

2008 saw him perform on Scarlett Johansson's album of Tom Waits covers called Anywhere I Lay My Head. A double album of performances from Bowie's 2003 tour was released in January 2010.

His Heroes was used heavily at the 2012 London Olympics and the only thing missing from the whole event was an appearance from the great man. In some ways it would havebeen even bigger than McCartney appearing but it was not to be.

2013 saw the V&A exhibition as well as a new album, The Next Day, his 24th studio album. Both were met with acres of press coverage as well as both critical and public acclaim. The Living God had returned from what looked like retirement.

He resides in New York.

Quick Links

Biog. >> Gallery >> Record/CD Price Guide >> Shop >> Bowie Mobile Responsive Pages >> Blackstar Review >> Lazarus Video Review >> Blackstar Video Review

Dvds/Cds

The Buddha Of Suburbia >> ChangesBowie CD >> Christiane F Dvd >> Christiane F Soundtrack CD >> David Live CD >> Heroes/Lodgers CD >> iSelect CD >> Labyrinth Dvd >> Live Santa Monica 72 CD >> London Boy CD >> Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence Dvd >> Peter and the Wolf CD >> Singles Collection CD >> Sound & Vision Dvd >> Stage CD

Extensive Scans

David Bowie Official Calendar UK (1985) >> Is (2013) >> The Glass Spider Tour Official Tour Programme UK (1987) >> Serious Moonlight: 1983 World Tour Book

Links

Bowie Facebook Page >> StumbleUpon Page

Movie Posters/Photos

The Hunger >> Just A Gigolo >> Labyrinth >> Man Who Fell to Earth >> Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence >> Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars

Movie/TV/Play Reviews

The Elephant Man >> Just A Gigolo

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Bowie Releases

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