David Bowie / Ziggy Stardust / Thin White Duke

 An artist who re-invented himself many times, David Jones started out playing saxophone with The King Bees, who released their first record, “Liza Jane”, on the Vocalion label of Great Britain. Less than ten years later, Jones became better known as David Bowie, a major originator of “Glam Rock”.

David Bowie is widely regarded as one of the most influential writers of pop music. Much has already been written about this very creative man, a passionate and consummate mufti-instrumentalist, mufti-media artist, so I will try to just provide some history of his rise to recognition, and interesting highlights of his career.

Videos:

DAVID BOWIE LIVE! DAVID LETTERMAN (1997)

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LITTLE CHINA GIRL (1977)

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BING CROSBY & DAVID BOWIE – LITTLE DRUMMER BOY (1982)

Albums He Produced

  • David Bowie (1967)
  • Space Oddity (1969)
  • The Man Who Sold the World (1970)
  • Hunky Dory (1971)
  • The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972)
  • Aladdin Sane (1973)
  • Pin Ups (1973)
  • Diamond Dogs (1974)
  • Young Americans (1975)
  • Station to Station (1976)
  • Low (1977)
  • “Heroes” (1977)

Some of his Songs

The Man Who Sold the World / David Bowie / 1970 / from the album of the same name
Changes / David Bowie / 1971 / from the album Hunky Dory
Fashion / David Bowie / 1980 / from album Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)
Starman / (2 versions; studio vs.live) / David Bowie / 1972 / from the album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars
Ziggy Stardust / David Bowie / 1972 / / from the “The Rise and Fall …” album
Fame/ David Bowie / 1975 / from the album Young Americans
Golden Years / David Bowie / 1976 / from the Station To Station album
Let’s Dance / David Bowie / 1983 / from album of the same name

Glam rock

(also known as glitter rock) is a style of rock and pop music that developed in the United Kingdom in the early 1970s, which was performed by singers and musicians who wore outrageous clothes, makeup and hairstyles, particularly platform-soled boots and glitter. Flamboyant costumes and visual styles of Glam performers were often camp or androgynous, and have been connected with new views of gender roles. Glam rock visuals peaked during the mid 1970s with artists including T. Rex, David Bowie, Roxy Music and Gary Glitter in the UK and New York Dolls, Lou Reed and Jobriath in the US.

Stylistic origins

Art rock, pop rock, psychedelic rock, hard rock, rock and roll, folk music

Cultural origins

Early 1970s, United Kingdom

Typical instruments

Guitarbassdrumskeyboardspiano

Mainstream popularity

Mainstream in the United Kingdom during the early 1970s and varying levels of success in other developed nations.

Derivative forms

Gothic rock, New Romanticism
  Fusion genres               Glam metalglam punkpunk rock

Born David Robert Haywood Jones, January 8, 1947 in Brixton, London, England, he changed his name to Bowie in the 1960s, to avoid confusion with the then well-known Davy Jones (lead singer of The Monkees). David changed his persona many times during his career and took on several significant nicknames such as Ziggy Stardust and the Thin White Duke.

His mother, Margaret Mary “Peggy” Jones worked as a cinema usherette. David attended Stockwell Infants School until he was six years old, acquiring a reputation as a gifted and single-minded child—and a defiant brawler.

In 1953 David attended Burnt Ash Junior School where his voice was considered “adequate” by the school choir, and his recorder playing judged to demonstrate above-average musical ability. At the age of nine, his dancing during the newly introduced music and movement classes was strikingly imaginative: teachers called his interpretations “vividly artistic” and his poise “astonishing” for a child.

Also in 1953, his interest in music was further stimulated when his father brought home a collection of American 45s by artists including Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, The Platters, Fats Domino, Elvis Presley and Little Richard. Upon listening to “Tutti Frutti“, David would later say, “I had heard God“.

Presley’s impact on him was likewise emphatic: “I saw a cousin of mine dance to … ‘Hound Dog’ and I had never seen her get up and be moved so much by anything. It really impressed me, the power of the music. I started getting records immediately after that.”

By the end of 1954 he had taken up the ukelele and tea-chest bass and begun to participate in Skiffle sessions with friends, and had started to play the piano; meanwhile his stage presentation of numbers by both Presley and Chuck Berry — complete with gyrations in tribute to the original artists — to his local Wolf Cub group was described as “mesmerizing … like someone from another planet.

Failing his eleven plus exam at the conclusion of his Burnt Ash Junior education, Bowie joined Bromley Technical High School where he studied art, music, and design, including layout and typesetting.

In 1961, his half-brother Terry Burns introduced him to modern jazz and David’s enthusiasm for players like Charles Mingus and John Coltrane led his mother to give him a plastic alto saxophone; he was soon receiving lessons from a local musician.

In 1962, he got into a fight with George Underwood over a girl and George injured David’s eye so badly that not all the damage could be surgically repaired, resulting in permanent dilation of his left eye. This unusual appearance would become one of his trademarks. Despite their fisticuffs, Underwood and Bowie would remain good friends. Underwood went on to play in a band with him and to create the artwork for David’s early albums.

Several Bands, Several Managers

Graduating from his plastic saxophone to a real instrument in 1962, Bowie formed his first band, the Konrads, at the age of 15. Playing guitar-based rock and roll at local youth gatherings and weddings, the band had a varying line-up of between four and eight members, George Underwood among them.

When David left the technical school the following year, he informed his parents of his intention to become a pop star. His mother responded by promptly arranging his employment as an electrician’s mate. Frustrated with the Konrads’ limited aspirations, David had much bigger ideas and joined another band.

The King Bees

During David’s time with this band, he wrote to a newly successful washing-machine entrepreneur John Bloom, inviting him to “do for us what Brian Epstein has done for the Beatles—and make another million.” But Bloom did not respond to this offer, instead introducing David to a man who would become his first personal manager, Leslie Conn.

Conn immediately started promoting David, but the singer’s 1964 debut single, “Liza Jane“, credited to “Davie Jones and the King Bees“, had no commercial success.

Dissatisfied with the King Bees and their blues repertoire of Howlin’ Wolf and Willie Dixon, after just one month David moved on to yet another blues group.

The Manish Boys had an orientation towards folk and soul — “I used to dream of being their Mick Jagger“, Bowie was to recall, but “I Pity the Fool” was no more successful in 1965 than “Liza Jane”, and David soon moved on again to join another band.

The Lower Third, a blues trio strongly influenced by The Who. David’s 1965 song “You’ve Got a Habit of Leaving” fared no better, signalling the end of Leslie Conn’s management contract.

Declaring that he would exit the pop world “to study mime at Sadler’s Wells“, Bowie nevertheless remained with the Lower Third.

David’s second manager, Ralph Horton, later instrumental in his transition to solo artist, soon witnessed Bowie’s move to yet another group, the Buzz, yielding the singer’s fifth unsuccessful 1966 single release, “Do Anything You Say“.

While with the Buzz, David also joined the Riot Squad. Their recordings, which included Velvet Underground material and one of David’s songs, “Little Toy Soldier“, went unreleased. Horton introduced David to Ken Pitt, who took over as his third personal manager.

Name Change

Dissatisfied with his stage name, “Davy / Davie Jones”, which in the mid-1960s invited confusion with Davy Jones of The Monkees, David renamed himself after the 19th century American frontiersman Jim Bowie and the knife he had popularised.

His April 1967 solo single, “The Laughing Gnome“, utilising sped-up high-pitched vocals, failed to chart.

Album: David Bowie

Released six weeks later, his debut album, David Bowie, by Deram Records, an amalgam of pop, psychedelia, and music hall, met the same fate. It would be his last release for two years.

From Music to Acting

Bowie’s fascination with the bizarre was fueled when he met dancer Lindsay Kemp; Bowie: “He [Lindsay] lived on his emotions, he was a wonderful influence. His day-to-day life was the most theatrical thing I had ever seen, ever. It was everything I thought Bohemia probably was. I joined the circus.”

Kemp, for his part, recalled, “I didn’t really teach him to be a mime artiste but to be more of himself on the outside, … I enabled him to free the angel and demon that he is on the inside.” Studying the dramatic arts under Kemp, from avant-garde theatre and mime to commedia dell’arte, Bowie became immersed in the creation of personae to present to the world.

Satirising life in a British prison, meanwhile, the Bowie-penned “Over the Wall We Go” became a 1967 single for another singer, Oscar; another Bowie composition, “Silly Boy Blue“, was released by Billy Fury the following year.

After Kemp cast Bowie with Hermione Farthingale for a poetic minuet, the pair began dating, and soon moved into a London flat together.

Playing acoustic guitar, she formed a group with Bowie and bassist John Hutchinson; between September 1968 and early 1969, when Bowie and Farthingale broke up, the trio gave a small number of concerts combining folk, Merseybeat, poetry and mime

Mini Biography

The 1960s were not a happy period for David, who remained a struggling artist, awaiting his breakthrough. He dabbled in many different styles of music (without commercial success), and other art forms such as acting, mime, painting, and play writing.

He finally achieved his commercial breakthrough in 1969 with the song “Space Oddity,” which was released at the time of the moon landing.

Despite the fact that the literal meaning of the lyrics relates to an astronaut who is lost in space, the BBC in their coverage of the moon landing used this song, and this helped it become such a success.

Space Oddity album (UK)

Space Oddity album (US)

The album, which followed “Space Oddity,” and the two, which followed (one of which included the song “The Man Who Sold The World,” covered by Lulu and Nirvana) failed to produce another hit single, and Bowie’s career appeared to be in decline.

.

Hunky Dory was the fourth album by Bowie, released by RCA Records in 1971. It was his first release through RCA, which would be his label for the next decade.

Successful Comeback

However, he made the first of many successful “comebacks” in 1972 with “Ziggy Stardust,” a concept album about a space-age rock star.

The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars album

Released 6 June 1972 (1972-06-06)

Recorded 7 September 1971, November 1971, 12 – 18 January 1972,
Trident Studios, London

  • David Bowie – vocals, acoustic guitar, saxophone, piano, harpsichord, arrangements
  • Mick Ronson – guitars, piano, backing vocals, stringarrangement
  • Trevor Bolder – bass
  • Mick Woodmansey – drums

Album

Year

Chart

Peak
Position

1972 UK Albums Chart 5[2]
1973 Billboard Pop Albums 75[39]

Singles

Year

Single

Chart

Peak
Position

1972 “Starman” UK Singles Chart 10[2]
1972 “Starman” Billboard Pop Singles 65[40]
1974 “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide” UK Singles Chart 22[2]
Starman (from the Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust album):
Ziggy Stardust (from the Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust album):

This album was followed by others in a similar vein, rock albums built around a central character and concerned with futuristic themes of Armageddon, gender dysfunction/confusion, as well as more contemporary themes such as the destructiveness of success and fame, and the dangers inherent in star worship.

David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust

The relatively short-lived Ziggy persona proved merely one facet of a career marked by continual reinvention, musical innovation and striking visual presentation.

In the mid 1970s, Bowie unfortunately became a heavy cocaine abuser and sometime heroin user.

In 1975, he changed tack. Musically, he released “Young Americans,” a soul (or plastic soul as he later referred to it) album. This produced his first number one hit song in the US, “Fame.”

Young Americans album

He also appeared in his first major film, The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976). With his different-colored eyes and skeletal frame, he certainly looked the part of an alien.

The following year, he released the album “Station to Station,” containing some of the material he had written for the soundtrack to this film (which was not used).

Station To Station album

Golden Years (from the Station To Station album):

David Bowie as The Thin White Duke

The Thin White Duke was David Bowie’s 1976 persona and character, primarily identified with his album Station to Station

As his drug problem heightened, his behavior became more erratic. Reports of his insanity started to appear, and he continued to waste away physically. He fled back to Europe, finally settling in Berlin, where he changed musical direction again and recorded three of the most influential albums of all time, an electronic trilogy with Brian EnoLow“, “Heroes” and “Lodger.”

Towards the end of the 1970s, he finally kicked his drug habit, and recorded the album many of his fans consider his best, the Japanese-influenced “Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps).” Around this time, he played the Elephant Man on Broadway, to considerable acclaim.

 

Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) album

The next few years saw something of a drop-off in his musical output as his acting career flourished, culminating in his acclaimed performance in the movie Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (1983).

In 1983, he recorded “Let’s Dance,” an album which proved an unexpected massive commercial success, and produced his second number 1 hit single in the US.

Let’s Dance album

The tour, which followed the movie, “Serious Moonlight,” was his most successful ever. Faced with this success on a massive scale, Bowie apparently attempted to “repeat the formula” in the next two albums, with less success (and to critical scorn).

Finally, in the late 1980s, he turned his back on commercial success and his solo career, forming the hard rock band, Tin Machine, who had a deliberate, limited appeal. By now, his acting career was in decline.

After the comparative failure of his film Labyrinth (1986), the movie industry appears to have decided that Bowie was not a sufficient name to be a lead actor in a major movie, and since that date, most of his roles have been cameos or glorified cameos. He himself also seems to have lost interest in movie acting. Tin Machine toured extensively and released two albums, with little critical or commercial success.

In 1992, Bowie again changed direction and re-launched his solo career with “Black Tie White Noise,” a “wedding” album inspired by his recent marriage to Iman.

Iman

One of David Bowie’s famous quotes is: “You would think that a rock star being married to a super-model would be one of the greatest things in the world. It is.”

The 1990s were kinder to Bowie than the late 1980s. He released three albums to considerable critical acclaim and reasonable commercial success.

In 1995, he renewed his working relationship with Brian Eno to record “Outside.” After an initial hostile reaction from the critics, this album has now taken its place with his classic albums.

In 2003, David released an album entitled ‘Reality.’ The Reality Tour began in November 2003 and, after great commercial success, was extended into July 2004.

In June 2004, David suffered a heart attack and the tour did not finish it’s scheduled run. Reality is David’s last tour and album to date.

After recovering, David has not released any new music, but did a little acting. In 2006, he played Tesla in The Prestige (2006) and had a small cameo in the series “Extras” (2005).

In 2007, he did a cartoon voice in “SpongeBob SquarePants” (1999) playing Lord Royal Highness. He has not appeared in anything since 2008 and stays home in New York with his wife and daughter.

Bowie has influenced the course of popular music several times and influenced several generations of musicians. His promotional videos in the 1970s and 80s are regarded as ground-breaking, and as a live concert act, he is regarded as the most theatrical of them all.

~ IMDb Mini Biography By: Dara O’Kearney <daraok@iol.ie>

Biographer David Buckley writes, “The essence of Bowie’s contribution to popular music can be found in his outstanding ability to analyse and select ideas from outside the mainstream—from art, literature, theatre and film—and to bring them inside, so that the currency of pop is constantly being changed.” Buckley says, “Just one person took Glam Rock to new rarefied heights and invented character-playing in pop, marrying theatre and popular music in one seamless, powerful whole.

Bowie’s career has also been punctuated by various roles in film and theatre productions, earning him some acclaim as an actor in his own right.

Trade Marks

His constantly changing appearance

His wide ranging vocals

His one permanently dilated pupil that gives him the appearance of different colored eyes

Known for having a different theme on almost every album

Lyrics with science fiction or fantasy themes


Trivia

  • Height: 5′ 10″ (1.78 m)
  • Unveiled his star on Hollywood “Walk of Fame” [12 February 1997]
  • His eyes are both blue. However, one pupil is permanently dilated due to a fight, and as a result, one eye looks darker than the other.
  • In 1968 while he was still a struggling artist, Bowie wrote some English lyrics to a French song titled “Comme d’Habitude” (As Usual). His version, “Even a Fool Learns to Love”, never did get recorded. But when the French melody caught the attention of Paul Anka, he reworked the lyrics and the song became “My Way”. Of course, when Frank Sinatra recorded “My Way” his way, it turned to gold.
  • He has one son in 1971 with his then-wife Angela Bowie, originally named Zowie – who later changed it to Joe and who is now known as Duncan Jones.
  • Daughter, with Iman, Alexandria Zahra Jones born [15 August 2000]
  • In a magazine interview, he stated that he met his first wife when they were dating the same man.
  • Has family roots in West Wales
  • In his composition “Slip Away”, on his album “Heathen”, he makes cryptic references to “The Uncle Floyd Show” (1974), a program popular in the late 1970s and 80s in the New York City area. Broadcast on a local TV station, it featured two puppets, “Oogie” and “Bones Boy”, mentioned in the song, as well as the host, “Uncle” Floyd Vivino.
  • Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.
  • Contributes “Loving the Alien” to the “Warchild Hope” album. [2003]
  • His 1972 album “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” came 8th in Classic Rock Magazine’s list of the 30 greatest concept albums of all time. [March 2003]
  • Has performed with (on separate occasions) Queen, Mick Jagger, Iggy Pop, Al B. Sure! , Tina Turner, Annie Lennox, Nine Inch Nails and Bing Crosby.
  • Something that he and actor John Hurt have in common is that they have both played The Elephant Man.
  • He is consistently listed as one of the richest British born pop stars in the world. Heat magazine listed his earnings for the year 2001 at over $30 million.
  • Turned down the role of Max Zorin for the 1985 James Bond film A View to a Kill (1985), citing his lack of enthusiasm for recent Bond villains.
  • His song “Life on Mars” was covered by Marillion frontman Steve Hogarth and the H Band on the album “Live Spirit: Live Body” (released 2002).
  • Cites Little Richard as his first musical influence.
  • He allegedly refused the British honour of C.B.E. (Commander of the order of British Empire) in 2000.
  • His song “Five Years” was covered by former Marillion singer Fish on his 1993 album “Songs From The Mirror”.
  • In a 1983 interview with Rolling Stone he revealed that his bi-sexuality was really a sham. He claimed he made the story up to create more mystery about himself.
  • 25 June 2004 – Had an emergency angioplasty in Germany while on his current tour. The remainder of the tour was obviously cancelled.
  • Son: Duncan Haywood Zowie Bowie.
  • Has recorded with Lou Reed. Bowie contributed backing vocals to Lou Reed’s 1972 solo breakthrough Transformer, co-producing the album with Mick Ronson
  • He can play basically any kind of instrument, even performing the excellent sax solo at the end of “Heroes.” Although a talented rhythm guitarist, the one aspect of music Bowie finds himself lacking in is as a lead guitarist.
  • He was voted the 39th Greatest Artist in Rock ‘n’ Roll by Rolling Stone.
  • Turned down the role of Captain Hook in Hook (1991).
  • Underwent triple heart bypass surgery following a heart attack. [July 2004]
  • His son, Duncan (aka Zowie Bowie or Joey), was his best man at his 1992 wedding to Iman.
  • Son is currently studying at a film school in the UK. [2005]
  • He was loosely the basis for the film Velvet Goldmine (1998).
  • Sings a duet with Kasper Eistrup on Kashmirs new album “No Balance Palace”
  • Is credited as himself in Zoolander (2001). He is the judge of the fashion “walk-off” between Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller.
  • He was the first major recording artist to release a song only on the Internet.
  • Mentioned in the song “Life Is a Rock But the Radio Rolled Me” by Reunion.
  • Son of Margaret Mary Jones.
  • Winner of the British Phonographic Industry Award for British Male Solo Artist in 1984 following the success of his multi-million selling album “Let’s Dance”.
  • Winner of the 1996 Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution.
  • Gave up his 50 cigarettes a day smoking habit in 2004.
  • In November 1997, Business Age magazine reported his net worth as being over $900 million, surpassing even that of fellow British musician Paul McCartney, making him Britain’s richest rock star. In 1999, Reuters placed his net worth at roughly $917 million. In 2003, the Sunday Express claimed his net worth was still in the $900 million (£510 million) range but that this placed him second to Paul McCartney. However, in 2005 the Sunday Times Rich List pegged his fortunes at roughly $185 million (£100 million).
  • Plays 14 different instruments.
  • Played Serbian/American scientist and inventor Nikola Tesla in The Prestige (2006).
  • He was originally supposed to play Max Zorin in A View to a Kill (1985), but the part went to Christopher Walken instead. Many years later he admitted, “It was simply a terrible script and I saw little reason for spending so long on something that bad, that workmanlike. And I told them so. I don’t think anyone had turned down a major role in a Bond before. It really didn’t go down too well at all. They were very tetchy about it.”.
  • Ranked #12 on VH1’s 100 Sexiest Artists.
  • Ranked #7 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Artists of Rock & Roll.
  • He allegedly declined British knighthood in 2003 for his services to music.
  • Considers “Tonight” (released in 1984) and “Never Let Me Down” (released in 1987) to be his weakest albums.
  • Resides in London and New York City.
  • Appeared in Bing Crosby‘s last TV show before his death, a Christmas special taped in London that aired after Crosby’s death in December 1977. It is memorable for Crosby and Bowie singing a duet of “The Little Drummer Boy”: Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas (1977) (TV).
  • He was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Recording at 7021 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California.
  • Early in his career, Bowie was once snubbed by The Beatles‘ “Apple” record label.
  • Suffers from fear of flying (Aviophobia).
  • Asked Stevie Ray Vaughan to play guitar on the album “Let’s Dance” after seeing Double Trouble perform at the Montreux Jazz Festival.
  • The Sunday Times list estimated his net worth at $164 million. [2009]
  • His song “Heroes” was recorded by Peter Gabriel on his album “Scratch My Back”, released in 2010. It was a very different arrangement from Bowie’s original, with Gabriel’s voice accompanied only by orchestral instruments.
  • In 1969, he starred in a black-and-white Lyons Maid ice cream commercial directed by Ridley Scott. (The slogan was: “The pop ice cream. Nine pence.”) In 1983, Bowie starred in The Hunger (1983) directed by Ridley’s brother Tony Scott.
  • He went through a heroin addiction, which resulted in him blacking out and unable to account for his own behavior for much of the mid-1970s. His song “Ashes to Ashes” documents his struggles with drugs.

Personal Quotes

[on whether he thinks he is a good actor] I took you in, didn’t I? I rest my make-up case.

[on getting an honorary degree from Boston’s Berklee College of Music] Any list of advice I have to offer to a musician always ends with, ‘If it itches, go and see a doctor.’

I’m an instant star; just add water.

[from 1992] It would be my guess that Madonna is not a very happy woman. From my own experience, having gone through persona changes like that, that kind of clawing need to be the center of attention is not a pleasant place to be.

[in 1976 interview with Playboy] It’s true – I am a bisexual. But I can’t deny that I’ve used that fact very well. I suppose it’s the best thing that ever happened to me. Fun, too.

I don’t know how many times someone has come up to me and said, `Hey, Lets dance!’ I hate dancing. God, it’s stupid.

I re-invented my image so many times that I’m in denial that I was originally an overweight Korean woman.

[on being 50] Fab. But, you know, I don’t feel fifty. I feel not a day over forty-nine. It’s incredible. I’m bouncy, I feel bouncy.

I once asked [John] Lennon what he thought of what I do. He said ‘it’s great, but its just rock and roll with lipstick on’.

I gave up smoking six months before I had the heart attack – so that was worth it, wasn’t it! I started to give up when my daughter was born because I wouldn’t smoke in the house with her there so I had to go outside. It’s bloody cold in winter in New York, so I just quit.

[on Syd Barrett] The few times I saw him perform in London at UFO and the Marquee clubs during the ’60s will forever be etched in my mind. He was so charismatic and such a startlingly original songwriter. Also, along with Anthony Newley, he was the first guy I’d heard to sing pop or rock with a British accent. His impact on my thinking was enormous. A major regret is that I never got to know him. A diamond indeed.

[on his pop sound during the 1980s] When I performed I was thinking, you all look like you should be seeing Phil Collins. Then I thought, hang on, I sound like Phil Collins. So I’ve changed. I’m not comfortable with the mainstream thing.

[from 1983] I get offered so many bad movies. And they’re all raging queens or transvestites or Martians.

I had no problem with people knowing I was bisexual. But I had no inclination to hold any banners or be a representative of any group of people. I knew what I wanted to be, which was a songwriter and a performer, and I felt that bisexuality became my headline over here for so long. America is a very puritanical place, and I think it stood in the way of so much I wanted to do. (2002)

[on Elvis Presley] I saw a cousin of mine when I was young. She was dancing to ‘Hound Dog’ and I had never seen her get up and be moved so much by anything. It really impressed me, the power of the music. I started getting records immediately after that.

Freud would have a heyday with me.

The whole animal of rock keeps changing itself so fast and so furiously that you just can’t plan ahead.

Rock has always been the devil’s music.

The only thing I ever got out of fame was a better table in a restaurant. And for that I gave up being able to relate to people.

I think Mick Jagger would be astounded and amazed if he realized to many people he is not a sex symbol, but a mother image.

I like crazy art and, most of the time, out-there music. Rather than having a hit song these days, I like the idea that I’m in there changing the plan of what society and culture look like, sound like. I did change things; I knew I would. It feels great, and very rewarding.

“Hunky Dory” gave me a fabulous groundswell. I guess it provided me, for the first time in my life, with an actual audience – I mean, people actually coming up to me and saying, ‘Good album, good songs.’ That hadn’t happened to me before. It was like, ‘Ah, I’m getting it, I’m finding my feet. I’m starting to communicate what I want to do. Now: what is it I want to do??’ There was always a double whammy there.

[speaking in 2002] Of the 26 albums I’ve made I think there were two when I really wasn’t involved and that was Tonight and Never Let Me Down, the two follow-ups to Let’s Dance. That period was my Phil Collins years.

[speaking in 2002] It seems to be traditional now that every album since Black Tie White Noise is the best album I’ve put out since Scary Monsters.

[on the song Dance Magic from Labyrinth] In a recording studio, a baby I’d picked from one of the backup singers, a diva, had this cute little baby who couldn’t put two gurgles together. And it wouldn’t work for me, it wouldn’t go, I kicked it, I did everything to make it scream but it wouldn’t, it really buttoned its lips so I ended up doing the gurgles, so I’m the baby on that track as well. I thought ‘what the hell? I’ve done “Laughing Gnome”, I might as well go all the way with that’. I never thought in 20 years I’d come back to working with gnomes.

[on Freddie Mercury] Of all the more theatrical rock performers, Freddie took it further than the rest. He took it over the edge. And of course, I always admired a man who wears tights. I only saw him in concert once and as they say, he was definitely a man who could hold an audience in the palm of his hand.

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One response to “David Bowie / Ziggy Stardust / Thin White Duke

  1. Hi Gary,

    That is so thorough and in depth, kudos ! Enjoyed every word. Misty

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