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David Bowie

The cliché about David Bowie says he's a musical chameleon, adapting himself according to fashion and trends. While such a criticism is too glib, there's no denying that Bowie demonstrated remarkable skill for perceiving musical trends at his peak in the '70s. After spending several years in the late '60s as a mod and as an all-around music-hall entertainer, Bowie reinvented himself as a hippie singer/songwriter. Prior to his breakthrough in 1972, he recorded a proto-metal record and a pop/rock album, eventually redefining glam rock with his ambiguously sexy Ziggy Stardust persona. Ziggy made Bowie an international star, yet he wasn't content to continue to churn out glitter rock. By the mid-'70s, he developed an effete, sophisticated version of Philly soul that he dubbed "plastic soul," which eventually morphed into the eerie avant-pop of 1976's Station to Station. Shortly afterward, he relocated to Berlin, where he recorded three experimental electronic albums with Brian Eno. At the dawn of the '80s, Bowie was still at the height of his powers, yet following his blockbuster dance-pop album Let's Dance in 1983, he slowly sank into mediocrity before salvaging his career in the early '90s. Even when he was out of fashion in the '80s and '90s, it was clear that Bowie was one of the most influential musicians in rock, for better and for worse. Each one of his phases in the '70s sparked a number of subgenres, including punk, new wave, goth rock, the new romantics, and electronica. Few rockers ever had such lasting impact.

David Jones began performing music when he was 13 years old, learning the saxophone while he was at Bromley Technical High School; another pivotal event happened at the school, when his left pupil became permanently dilated in a schoolyard fight. Following his graduation at 16, he worked as a commercial artist while playing saxophone in a number of mod bands, including the King Bees, the Manish Boys (which also featured Jimmy Page as a session man), and Davey Jones & the Lower Third. All three of those bands released singles, which were generally ignored, yet he continued performing, changing his name to David Bowie in 1966 after the Monkees' Davy Jones became an international star. Over the course of 1966, he released three mod singles on Pye Records, which were all ignored. The following year, he signed with Deram, releasing the music hall, Anthony Newley-styled David Bowie that year. Upon completing the record, he spent several weeks in a Scottish Buddhist monastery. Once he left the monastery, he studied with Lindsay Kemp's mime troupe, forming his own mime company, the Feathers, in 1969. The Feathers were short-lived, and he formed the experimental art group Beckenham Arts Lab in 1969.

Bowie needed to finance the Arts Lab, so he signed with Mercury Records that year and released Man of Words, Man of Music, a trippy singer/songwriter album featuring "Space Oddity." The song was released as a single and became a major hit in the U.K., convincing Bowie to concentrate on music. Hooking up with his old friend Marc Bolan, he began miming at some of Bolan's T. Rex concerts, eventually touring with Bolan, bassist/producer Tony Visconti, guitarist Mick Ronson, and drummer Cambridge as Hype. The band quickly fell apart, yet Bowie and Ronson remained close, working on the material that formed Bowie's next album, The Man Who Sold the World, as well as recruiting Michael "Woody" Woodmansey as their drummer. Produced by Tony Visconti, who also played bass, The Man Who Sold the World was a heavy guitar rock album that failed to gain much attention. Bowie followed the album in late 1971 with the pop/rock Hunky Dory, an album that featured Ronson and keyboardist Rick Wakeman.

Following its release, Bowie began to develop his most famous incarnation, Ziggy Stardust: an androgynous, bisexual rock star from another planet. Before he unveiled Ziggy, Bowie claimed in a January 1972 interview with Melody Maker that he was gay, helping to stir interest in his forthcoming album. Taking cues from Bolan's stylish glam rock, Bowie dyed his hair orange and began wearing women's clothing. He began calling himself Ziggy Stardust, and his backing band -- Ronson, Woodmansey, and bassist Trevor Bolder -- were the Spiders from Mars. The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars was released with much fanfare in England in late 1972. The album and its lavish, theatrical concerts became a sensation throughout England, and it helped him become the only glam rocker to carve out a niche in America. Ziggy Stardust became a word-of-mouth hit in the U.S., and the re-released "Space Oddity" -- which was now also the title of the re-released Man of Words, Man of Music -- reached the American Top 20. Bowie quickly followed Ziggy with Aladdin Sane later in 1973. Not only did he record a new album that year, but he also produced Lou Reed's Transformer, the Stooges' Raw Power, and Mott the Hoople's comeback All the Young Dudes, for which he also wrote the title track.

Given the amount of work Bowie packed into 1972 and 1973, it wasn't surprising that his relentless schedule began to catch up with him. After recording the all-covers Pin-Ups with the Spiders from Mars, he unexpectedly announced the band's breakup, as well as his retirement from live performances, during the group's final show that year. He retreated from the spotlight to work on a musical adaptation of George Orwell's 1984, but once he was denied the rights to the novel, he transformed the work into Diamond Dogs. The album was released to generally poor reviews in 1974, yet it generated the hit single "Rebel Rebel," and he supported the album with an elaborate and expensive American tour. As the tour progressed, Bowie became fascinated with soul music, eventually redesigning the entire show to reflect his new "plastic soul." Hiring guitarist Carlos Alomar as the band's leader, Bowie refashioned his group into a Philly soul band and recostumed himself in sophisticated, stylish fashions. The change took fans by surprise, as did the double-album David Live, which featured material recorded on the 1974 tour.

Young Americans, released in 1975, was the culmination of Bowie's soul obsession, and it became his first major crossover hit, peaking in the American Top Ten and generating his first U.S. number one hit in "Fame," a song he co-wrote with John Lennon and Alomar. Bowie relocated to Los Angeles, where he earned his first movie role in Nicolas Roeg's The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976). While in L.A., he recorded Station to Station, which took the plastic soul of Young Americans into darker, avant-garde-tinged directions yet was also a huge hit, generating the Top Ten single "Golden Years." The album inaugurated Bowie's persona of the elegant "Thin White Duke," and it reflected Bowie's growing cocaine-fueled paranoia. Soon, he decided Los Angeles was too boring and returned to England; shortly after arriving back in London, he gave the awaiting crowd a Nazi salute, a signal of his growing, drug-addled detachment from reality. The incident caused enormous controversy, and Bowie left the country to settle in Berlin, where he lived and worked with Brian Eno.

Once in Berlin, Bowie sobered up and began painting, as well as studying art. He also developed a fascination with German electronic music, which Eno helped him fulfill on their first album together, Low. Released early in 1977, Low was a startling mixture of electronics, pop, and avant-garde technique. While it was greeted with mixed reviews at the time, it proved to be one of the most influential albums of the late '70s, as did its follow-up, Heroes, which followed that year. Not only did Bowie record two solo albums in 1977, but he also helmed Iggy Pop's comeback records The Idiot and Lust for Life, and toured anonymously as Pop's keyboardist. He resumed his acting career in 1977, appearing in Just a Gigolo with Marlene Dietrich and Kim Novak, as well as narrating Eugene Ormandy's version of Peter and the Wolf. Bowie returned to the stage in 1978, launching an international tour that was captured on the double-album Stage. During 1979, Bowie and Eno recorded Lodger in New York, Switzerland, and Berlin, releasing the album at the end of the year. Lodger was supported with several innovative videos, as was 1980's Scary Monsters, and these videos -- "DJ," "Fashion," "Ashes to Ashes" -- became staples on early MTV.

Scary Monsters was Bowie's last album for RCA, and it wrapped up his most innovative, productive period. Later in 1980, he performed the title role in stage production of The Elephant Man, including several shows on Broadway. Over the next two years, he took an extended break from recording, appearing in Christiane F (1981) and the vampire movie The Hunger (1982), returning to the studio only for his 1981 collaboration with Queen, "Under Pressure," and the theme for Paul Schrader's remake of Cat People. In 1983, he signed an expensive contract with EMI Records and released Let's Dance. Bowie had recruited Chic guitarist Nile Rodgers to produce the album, giving the record a sleek, funky foundation, and hired the unknown Stevie Ray Vaughan as lead guitarist. Let's Dance became his most successful record, thanks to stylish, innovative videos for "Let's Dance" and "China Girl," which turned both songs into Top Ten hits. Bowie supported the record with the sold-out arena tour Serious Moonlight.

Greeted with massive success for the first time, Bowie wasn't quite sure how to react, and he eventually decided to replicate Let's Dance with 1984's Tonight. While the album sold well, producing the Top Ten hit "Blue Jean," it received poor reviews and was ultimately a commercial disappointment. He stalled in 1985, recording a duet of Martha & the Vandellas' "Dancing in the Street" with Mick Jagger for Live Aid. He also spent more time jet-setting, appearing at celebrity events across the globe, and appeared in several movies -- Into the Night (1985), Absolute Beginners (1986), Labyrinth (1986) -- that turned out to be bombs. Bowie returned to recording in 1987 with the widely panned Never Let Me Down, supporting the album with the Glass Spider tour, which also received poor reviews. In 1989, he remastered his RCA catalog with Rykodisc for CD release, kicking off the series with the three-disc box Sound + Vision. Bowie supported the discs with an accompanying tour of the same name, claming that he was retiring all of his older characters from performance following the tour. Sound + Vision was successful, and Ziggy Stardust re-charted amidst the hoopla.

Sound + Vision may have been a success, but Bowie's next project was perhaps his most unsuccessful. Picking up on the abrasive, dissonant rock of Sonic Youth and the Pixies, Bowie formed his own guitar rock combo, Tin Machine, with guitarist Reeves Gabrels, bassist Hunt Sales, and his drummer brother Tony, who had previously worked on Iggy Pop's Lust for Life with Bowie. Tin Machine released an eponymous album to poor reviews that summer and supported it with a club tour, which was only moderately successful. Despite the poor reviews, Tin Machine released a second album, the appropriately titled Tin Machine II, in 1991, and it was completely ignored.

Bowie returned to a solo career in 1993 with the sophisticated, soulful Black Tie White Noise, recording the album with Nile Rodgers and his now-permanent collaborator, Reeves Gabrels. The album was released on Savage, a subsidiary of RCA, and received positive reviews, but his new label went bankrupt shortly after its release, and the album disappeared. Black Tie White Noise was the first indication that Bowie was trying hard to resuscitate his career, as was the largely instrumental 1994 soundtrack The Buddha of Suburbia. In 1995, he reunited with Brian Eno for the wildly hyped, industrial rock-tinged Outside. Several critics hailed the album as a comeback, and Bowie supported it with a co-headlining tour with Nine Inch Nails in order to snag a younger, alternative audience, but his gambit failed; audiences left before Bowie's performance and Outside disappeared. He quickly returned to the studio in 1996, recording Earthling, an album heavily influenced by techno and drum'n'bass. Upon its early 1997 release, Earthling received generally positive reviews, yet the album failed to gain an audience, and many techno purists criticized Bowie for allegedly exploiting their subculture. hours... followed in 1999. In 2002, Bowie reunited with producer Toni Visconti and released Heathen to very positive reviews. He continued on with Visconti for Reality in 2003, which was once again warmly received.

Bowie supported Reality with a lengthy tour but it came to a halt in the summer of 2004 when he received an emergency angioplasty while in Hamburg, Germany. Following this health scare, Bowie quietly retreated from the public eye. Over the next few years, he popped up at the occasional charity concert or gala event and he sometimes sang in the studio for other artists (notably he appeared on Scarlett Johansson's Tom Waits tribute Anywhere I Lay My Head in 2008). Archival releases appeared but no new recordings did until he suddenly ended his unofficial retirement on his 66th birthday on January 8, 2013, releasing a new single called "Where Are We Now?" and announcing the arrival of a new album. Entitled The Next Day and once again produced by Visconti, the album was released in March of 2013. Greeted with generally positive reviews, The Next Day debuted at either number one or two throughout the world, earning gold certifications in many countries. The following year, Bowie released a new compilation called Nothing Has Changed, which featured the new song "Sue (Or in a Season of Crime)." ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: 'Tis A Pity She Was A Whore (Single)

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Track List: Bowie At The Beeb: The Best Of The BBC Radio Sessions 68-72

Disc 1
Disc 2
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Track List: David Bowie (Deluxe Edition)

Disc 1
Disc 2
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Track List: Love Is Lost (Hello Steve Reich Mix By James Murphy For The DFA) (Single)

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Track List: Sound And Vision (2013)

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Track List: Where Are We Now? (Single)

Comments

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Best concert I ever attended in my life was the Glass Spiders Tour. Peter Frampton was playing guitar.
Phenomenal stage and choreography .
Young Americans is my favorite song by Bowie. David Sanborn's sax grabs you by nads.
Bowie is also the best dressed rocker in history.
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Phew! What a long bio. How much space do you need to say David Bowie is a penis hungry androgynous alien who had intergalacti c space sex with Mick Jagger, and whose space ship fueled by human jizzum crash landed on Earth thus necessitatin g a 10 year recon mission to collect loads of the stuff which he conveniently stores in his extraterrest r i a l anus.
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5 year old pervs in space. woo-hoo
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But boy could he play guitar
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326orod
David Bowie rules!!!#
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Anybody who can be Ziggy Stardust AND sing a Christmas duet with Bing Crosby is OK by me.

The Man Who Sold the World is worth a listen for those not familiar with the earlier stuff. 20-25 years ahead of its time (if not more).
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THIS IS MY FAVORITE ALL TIME SONG IN THE WORLD !!!!!!
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bowiespacere b e l
...and on top of that, his lyrics are paired with amazing music and a voice unlike any other I have heard. On the other hand, I cannot listen to more than s couple seconds of modern music without losing IQ points.
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bowiespacere b e l
To darkknight - I think I just threw up in my mouth a little. Everyone has the right to listen to whatever they want ( even if it's a bunch of empty ear-worms like the songs Adam Levine makes), but I also have the right to speak my mind and say that what you posted was COMPLETELY inaccurate. No one in their right mind could possibly deny that David Bowie is among the best (and in my opinion IS the best) musician(s) ever. I spend hours listening to his music because it's so full of meaning,...
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Bowie was doing punk before anybody ever hated punk
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Bowie may have written "All the Young Dudes," but Mott the Hoople own it. Their version is far superior to Bowies
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My generation grew up in a Moonage Daydream. Bowie's Ziggy stardust, Starman, and Space Oddity gave man's giant leap a cool soundtrack. Lit the fuses on many a child's imagination engine, including mine.

Below is a link to my Moonage Daydream.
http://vimeo . c o m / 3 0 5 5 9 7 7 2


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Darkknight is a moronic simpleton who deserves no further attn. from anyone from this point on so let's make sure he gets just that. No other solo musical artist has done as much as David Bowie to expand the boundaries of rock&pop to an extent that showed& continues to show that there actually are no & should not ever be, any boundaries in music. That's the #1 thing that makes him so great,& then there's a long list of other reasons that follow of course!
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DARKKNIGHT- YOUR CONFUSED, I'M SORRY
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Labyrinth was a bomb? That is one of my favorite movies of all time. We even played As the world Falls Down at our wedding. Whoever said that the movie was a bomb has a very biased opinion.
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Mmmmmm David Bowie the best musician
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great entertainer, not musician
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When I was in college a classmate did a final on Bowie's Ziggy Stardust album. (Mine was on Buddy Holly), At the time, I didn't realize how right the guy was. This was and still is one of the great albums.
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milosdad
A genius. I can find phenomenal songs at almost every point of his career. Heroes. A simple, three chord song with so much depth. I really like teaching these songs to my eleven year old kid. Easy to play but with so much heart you feel like you just played like a master.
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David Bowie is god of theatre and music
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"Heroes," the theme song to the German docu-drama "Christina F.," about a young heroin addicted prostitute whose hero was David Bowie. When she went to the premiere of her movie David Bowie surprised her by chauffeuring her in a limo. And he was also munching on a penis but that was pretty old hat at that point in his career. Bowie you big sentimental f*g you.
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Let's Dance just blisters with restrained guitar licks applied with surgical precision by Stevie Ray Vaughan who - being initially seduced into the Bowie coterie - bailed on the Serious Moonlight tour days before its launch to return to his Texas roots.
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IM STILL A HUGE FAN !!
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Dark knight get off the crack and get really check
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Saw him on the Serious Moonlight tour. But he will always be Ziggy from Mars. A true genius and there are few of them.
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Love Bowie from the 70's........ h e n c e the previous post
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my 2 albums of david bowie,,,,,,, , , , , p i n ups and diamond dogs......ex c e l l e n t
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Diamond Dogs!!!!!!!! ! 1
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jakob.dishma n
Rock on
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Golden years....wah . . . w a h . . . . w a h . . .
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Remembering (HIGH) school days
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Bowie is eternal.
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Sometimes i wish i was David Bowie
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Doesn't matter, it's all great. Great way to change with the times. DAVID BOWIE
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Warzawa on Stage...
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Modern love!
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stop it with the remastered s**t
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Let's dance 83' lived in Berlin at the time. Should of married Kistine....
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elijah_cole
THANK YOU I HAVE BEEN SEEING SO MUCH OF THAT CRAP LIKE REALLY KANYE WEST IS A BIG EGO FILLED(inser t your choice of insults here) basically I wish people would appreciate classic musicians/ba n d s .
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Oh Gosh, Ziggy is the bomb.com
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Ziggy sucked up into his mind! Trippy
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ahh man it interweb will not 2x let me post a pic i have
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jamietigergi r l
Bowie probably saved my life in boarding school. His music calmed/enter t a i n e d / i n s p i r e d me and let me know I wasn't the only freak on earth. The best individual, artist of all time.
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Check out David's albums...... . P i n u p s and Diamond Dogs!!!
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jkellar013
The best have so many of his albums on cassette and CD and sooooo many David Bowie shirts
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My favorite artist as well as actor, my whole wardrobe is inspired by him. I have seen all of his movies, my favorite the Labyrinth and listened to all his songs. I wish I could meet him and show him how much he has affected me in all aspects of my daily life. I love you Davie, keep on keeping on!
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✌BOWIE!!!! (: He is one of the most f**kin amazing human beings to ever set their hands on the music industry. ❤❤❤ Job done well. I love all his tunes.
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I just love david Bowie that man can sing
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Was a childhood mishap !! ( a fork I think )
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