Backstage with David Bowie

No Lies Radio Music – By Teri Perticone – July 21, 2018

David_Bowie_(1987)

Photo: David Bowie in 1987.

David Robert Jones (8 January 1947 – 10 January 2016), known professionally as David Bowie was an English singer, songwriter and actor who is often considered to be one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. He was a leading figure in popular music and was acclaimed by critics and fellow musicians for his innovative work, particularly for his work during the 1970s. His career was marked by reinvention and visual presentation, with his music and stagecraft significantly influencing popular music. During his lifetime, his record sales, estimated at 140 million albums worldwide, made him one of the world’s best-selling music artists. In the UK, he was awarded ten platinum album certifications, eleven gold and eight silver, releasing eleven number-one albums. In the US, he received five platinum and nine gold certifications. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.

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Born in Brixton, South London, Bowie developed an interest in music as a child, eventually studying art, music, and design before embarking on a professional career as a musician in 1963. After taking his eleven-plus exam at the conclusion of his Burnt Ash Junior education, Bowie went to Bromley Technical High School.[14]

Bowie studied art, music, and design, including layout and typesetting. After his half-brother Terry Burns introduced him to modern jazz, his enthusiasm for players like Charles Mingus and John Coltrane led his mother to give him a Grafton saxophone in 1961. He was soon receiving lessons from baritone saxophonist Ronnie Ross.[15][16] He received a serious injury at school in 1962 when his friend George Underwood punched him in the left eye during a fight over a girl. After a series of operations during a four-month hospitalisation,[17] his doctors determined that the damage could not be fully repaired and Bowie was left with faulty depth perception and a permanently dilated pupil, which gave a false impression of a change in the iris’ colour; the eye would later become one of Bowie’s most recognisable features.[18] Despite their altercation, Bowie remained good friends with Underwood, who went on to create the artwork for Bowie’s early albums.[19]

“Space Oddity” became his first top-five entry on the UK Singles Chart after its release in July 1969.


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David Bowie – Space Oddity

After a period of experimentation, he re-emerged in 1972 during the glam rock era with his flamboyant and androgynous alter ego Ziggy Stardust. The character was spearheaded by the success of his single “Starman” and album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, which won him widespread popularity.


David Bowie – Rebel Rebel

In 1975, Bowie’s style shifted radically towards a sound he characterised as “plastic soul”, initially alienating many of his UK devotees but garnering him his first major US crossover success with the number-one single “Fame” and the album Young Americans.


David Bowie – Fame

In 1976, Bowie starred in the cult film The Man Who Fell to Earth, directed by Nicolas Roeg, and released Station to Station. The following year, he further confounded musical expectations with the electronic-inflected album Low (1977), the first of three collaborations with Brian Eno that would come to be known as the “Berlin Trilogy”. “Heroes” (1977) and Lodger (1979) followed; each album reached the UK top five and received lasting critical praise.


David Bowie – Heroes

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After uneven commercial success in the late 1970s, Bowie had UK number ones with the 1980 single “Ashes to Ashes”, its parent album Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps), and “Under Pressure”, a 1981 collaboration with Queen.


David Bowie – Ashes To Ashes

He then reached his commercial peak in 1983 with Let’s Dance, with its title track topping both UK and US charts.


David Bowie – Let’s Dance

Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Bowie continued to experiment with musical styles, including industrial and jungle. He also continued acting; his roles included Major Celliers in Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983), Jareth the Goblin King in Labyrinth (1986), Pontius Pilate in The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), and Nikola Tesla in The Prestige (2006), among other film and television appearances and cameos. He stopped concert touring after 2004 and his last live performance was at a charity event in 2006.

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In 2013, Bowie returned from a decade-long recording hiatus with the release of The Next Day. He remained musically active until he died of liver cancer two days after the release of his final album, Blackstar (2016).

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