David Bowie

David Bowie

Overview
David Bowie is an English musician, actor, record producer and arranger
Arrangement
The American Federation of Musicians defines arranging as "the art of preparing and adapting an already written composition for presentation in other than its original form. An arrangement may include reharmonization, paraphrasing, and/or development of a composition, so that it fully represents...

. A major figure for over four decades in the world of popular music, Bowie is widely regarded as an innovator, particularly for his work in the 1970s. He is known for his distinctive voice, and the intellectual depth and eclecticism of his work.

Bowie first caught the eye and ear of the public in July 1969, when his song "Space Oddity" reached the top five of the UK Singles Chart
UK Singles Chart
The UK Singles Chart is compiled by The Official Charts Company on behalf of the British record-industry. The full chart contains the top selling 200 singles in the United Kingdom based upon combined record sales and download numbers, though some media outlets only list the Top 40 or the Top 75 ...

.
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Quotations

I'm an instant star. Just add water and stir.

Quoted in Halliwell's Who's Who in the Movies 15th Edition (2003) by Leslie Halliwell, p. 60

I get offered so many bad movies. And they're all raging queens or transvestites or Martians.

1983 Comment, quoted in Halliwell's Who's Who in the Movies 15th Edition (2003) by Leslie Halliwell, p. 60

Heathenism is a state of mind. You can take it that I'm referring to one who does not see his world. He has no mental light. He destroys almost unwittingly. He cannot feel any Gods presence in his life. He is the 21st century man. However, there's no theme or concept behind Heathen, just a number of songs but somehow there is a thread that runs through it that is quite as strong as any of my thematic type albums.

I had to resign myself, many years ago, that I'm not too articulate when it comes to explaining how I feel about things. But my music does it for me, it really does. There, in the chords and melodies, is everything I want to say. The words just jolly it along. It's always been my way of expressing what for me is inexpressible by any other means.

We can be heroes, just for one day.

"Heroes"

I, I can remember (I remember) Standing, by the wall (by the wall) And the guns, shot above our heads (over our heads) And we kissed, as though nothing could fall (nothing could fall) And the shame, was on the other side Oh we can beat them, for ever and ever

"Heroes"

I've nothing much to offer, There's nothing much to take. I'm an absolute beginner, But I'm absolutely sane. As long as we're together The rest can go to hell. I absolutely love you, But we're absolute beginners. With eyes completely open, But nervous all the same.

Absolute Beginners
Encyclopedia
David Bowie is an English musician, actor, record producer and arranger
Arrangement
The American Federation of Musicians defines arranging as "the art of preparing and adapting an already written composition for presentation in other than its original form. An arrangement may include reharmonization, paraphrasing, and/or development of a composition, so that it fully represents...

. A major figure for over four decades in the world of popular music, Bowie is widely regarded as an innovator, particularly for his work in the 1970s. He is known for his distinctive voice, and the intellectual depth and eclecticism of his work.

Bowie first caught the eye and ear of the public in July 1969, when his song "Space Oddity" reached the top five of the UK Singles Chart
UK Singles Chart
The UK Singles Chart is compiled by The Official Charts Company on behalf of the British record-industry. The full chart contains the top selling 200 singles in the United Kingdom based upon combined record sales and download numbers, though some media outlets only list the Top 40 or the Top 75 ...

. After a three-year period of experimentation he re-emerged in 1972 during the glam rock
Glam rock
Glam rock is a style of rock and pop music that developed in the UK in the early 1970s, which was performed by singers and musicians who wore outrageous clothes, makeup and hairstyles, particularly platform-soled boots and glitter...

 era with the flamboyant, androgynous alter ego Ziggy Stardust, spearheaded by the hit single "Starman
Starman (song)
"Starman" is a single by David Bowie, released in April 1972. The song was a late addition to The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, included at the insistence of RCA’s Dennis Katz, who heard a demo and loved the track, believing it would make a great single...

" and the album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars is a 1972 concept album by English musician David Bowie, which is loosely based on a story of a rock star named Ziggy Stardust. It peaked at number five in the United Kingdom and number 75 in the United States on the Billboard Music...

. Bowie's impact at that time, as described by biographer David Buckley, "challenged the core belief of the rock music of its day" and "created perhaps the biggest cult in popular culture." The relatively short-lived Ziggy persona proved merely one facet of a career marked by continual reinvention, musical innovation and striking visual presentation.

In 1975, Bowie achieved his first major American crossover success with the number-one single "Fame
Fame (David Bowie song)
"Fame" is a song recorded by David Bowie, initially released in 1975. It reached number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 during the week of September 20, 1975.-Song development:...

" and the hit album Young Americans
Young Americans (album)
Young Americans, released in 1975, shows off David Bowie’s 1970’s shift to his “obsession” with soul music . For this album, Bowie let go of the influences he had drawn from in the past, replacing them with sounds from “local dance halls”, which, at the time, were blaring with “…lush strings,...

, which the singer characterised as "plastic soul
Plastic soul
Plastic soul is a term coined by an unknown black musician in the 1960s, describing Mick Jagger as a white musician singing soul music.Paul McCartney heard the comment and later said that the name of the The Beatles album Rubber Soul was inspired by the term "plastic soul"...

". The sound constituted a radical shift in style that initially alienated many of his UK devotees. He then confounded the expectations of both his record label and his American audiences by recording the minimalist
Minimalist music
Minimal music is a style of music associated with the work of American composers La Monte Young, Terry Riley, Steve Reich, and Philip Glass. It originated in the New York Downtown scene of the 1960s and was initially viewed as a form of experimental music called the New York Hypnotic School....

 album Low (1977)—the first of three collaborations with Brian Eno
Brian Eno
Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno , commonly known as Brian Eno or simply as Eno , is an English musician, composer, record producer, singer and visual artist, known as one of the principal innovators of ambient music.Eno studied at Colchester Institute art school in Essex,...

 over the next two years. The so-called "Berlin Trilogy
Berlin Trilogy
The Berlin Trilogy is a series of David Bowie albums recorded in collaboration with Brian Eno in the 1970s. The three albums are Low, "Heroes" and Lodger....

" albums all reached the UK top five and garnered lasting critical praise.

After uneven commercial success in the late 1970s, Bowie had UK number ones with the 1980 single "Ashes to Ashes
Ashes to Ashes (David Bowie song)
"Ashes to Ashes" is a single by David Bowie, released in 1980. It made #1 in the UK and was the first cut from the Scary Monsters album, also a #1 hit. As well as its musical qualities, it is noted for its innovative video, directed by Bowie and David Mallet...

", its parent album Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)
Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)
Scary Monsters is an album by David Bowie, released in September 1980 by RCA Records. It was Bowie's final studio album for the label and his first following the so-called Berlin Trilogy of Low, "Heroes" and Lodger . Though considered significant in artistic terms, the trilogy had proved less...

, and "Under Pressure
Under Pressure
"Under Pressure" is a 1981 song recorded by Queen and David Bowie. It marked Bowie's first released collaboration with another recording artist as a performer, and is featured on Queen's 1982 album Hot Space. The song reached #1 on the UK Singles Chart. It was also number 31 on VH1's 100 Greatest...

", a 1981 collaboration with Queen
Queen (band)
Queen are a British rock band formed in London in 1971, originally consisting of Freddie Mercury , Brian May , John Deacon , and Roger Taylor...

. He then reached a new commercial peak in 1983 with Let's Dance, which yielded several hit singles. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Bowie continued to experiment with musical styles, including blue-eyed soul
Blue-eyed soul
Blue-eyed soul is a media term that was used to describe rhythm and blues and soul music performed by white artists, with a strong pop music influence. The term was first used in the mid-1960s to describe white artists who performed soul and R&B that was similar to the music of the Motown and...

, industrial
Industrial music
Industrial music is a style of experimental music that draws on transgressive and provocative themes. The term was coined in the mid-1970s with the founding of Industrial Records by the band Throbbing Gristle, and the creation of the slogan "industrial music for industrial people". In general, the...

, adult contemporary
Adult contemporary music
Adult contemporary music is a broad style of popular music that ranges from lush 1950s and 1960s vocal music to predominantly ballad-heavy music with varying degrees of rock influence, as well as a radio format that plays such music....

, and jungle
Drum and bass
Drum and bass is a type of electronic music which emerged in the late 1980s. The genre is characterized by fast breakbeats , with heavy bass and sub-bass lines...

. His last recorded album was Reality (2003), which was supported by the 2003–04 Reality Tour.

Buckley says of Bowie: "His influence has been unique in popular culture—he has permeated and altered more lives than any comparable figure." In the BBC's 2002 poll of the 100 Greatest Britons
100 Greatest Britons
100 Greatest Britons was broadcast in 2002 by the BBC. The programme was the result of a vote conducted to determine whom the United Kingdom public considers the greatest British people in history. The series, Great Britons, included individual programmes on the top ten, with viewers having further...

, Bowie was placed at number 29. Throughout his career, he has sold an estimated 140 million albums. In the UK, he has been awarded nine Platinum album certifications, 11 Gold and eight Silver, and in the US, five Platinum and seven Gold certifications. In 2004, Rolling Stone
Rolling Stone
Rolling Stone is a US-based magazine devoted to music, liberal politics, and popular culture that is published every two weeks. Rolling Stone was founded in San Francisco in 1967 by Jann Wenner and music critic Ralph J...

ranked him 39th on their list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time", and 23rd on their list of the best singers of all-time.

1947–62: early years


David Bowie was born David Robert Jones in Brixton
Brixton
Brixton is a district in the London Borough of Lambeth in south London, England. It is south south-east of Charing Cross. The area is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London....

, London, on 8 January 1947. His mother, Margaret Mary "Peggy" (née Burns), of Irish descent, worked as a cinema usherette, while his father, Haywood Stenton "John" Jones was a promotions officer for Barnardo's
Barnardo's
Barnardo's is a British charity founded by Thomas John Barnardo in 1866, to care for vulnerable children and young people. As of 2010, it spends over £190 million each year on more than 400 local services aimed at helping these same groups...

. The family lived at 40 Stansfield Road, located near the border of the south London areas of Brixton and Stockwell
Stockwell
Stockwell is a district in inner south west London, England, located in the London Borough of Lambeth.It is situated south south-east of Charing Cross. Brixton, Clapham, Vauxhall and Kennington all border Stockwell...

. A neighbour recalled that "London in the forties was the worst possible place, and the worst possible time for a child to grow up in." Bowie 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 the family moved to the suburb of Bromley
Bromley
Bromley is a large suburban town in south east London, England and the administrative headquarters of the London Borough of Bromley. It was historically a market town, and prior to 1963 was in the county of Kent and formed the administrative centre of the Municipal Borough of Bromley...

, where, two years later, Bowie progressed to Burnt Ash Junior School. His singing 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
Music and movement
The term Music and movement often especially denotes the use of rhythmic song and dance in education, thought of as beneficial for childhood development...

 classes was strikingly imaginative: teachers called his interpretations "vividly artistic" and his poise "astonishing" for a child. The same year, his interest in music was further stimulated when his father brought home a collection of American 45s
Gramophone record
A gramophone record, commonly known as a phonograph record , vinyl record , or colloquially, a record, is an analog sound storage medium consisting of a flat disc with an inscribed, modulated spiral groove...

 by artists including Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, The Platters
The Platters
The Platters were a vocal group of the early rock and roll era. Their distinctive sound was a bridge between the pre-rock Tin Pan Alley tradition and the burgeoning new genre...

, Fats Domino
Fats Domino
Antoine Dominique "Fats" Domino, Jr. is an American R&B and rock and roll pianist and singer-songwriter. He was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Creole was his first language....

, Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley
Elvis Aaron Presley was one of the most popular American singers of the 20th century. A cultural icon, he is widely known by the single name Elvis. He is often referred to as the "King of Rock and Roll" or simply "the King"....

 and Little Richard
Little Richard
Richard Wayne Penniman , known by the stage name Little Richard, is an American singer, songwriter, musician, recording artist, and actor, considered key in the transition from rhythm and blues to rock and roll in the 1950s. He was also the first artist to put the funk in the rock and roll beat and...

. Upon listening to "Tutti Frutti
Tutti Frutti (song)
"Tutti Frutti" is a 1955 song by Little Richard, which became his first hit record. With its opening cry of "A-wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-lop-bop-bop!" and its hard-driving sound and wild lyrics, it became not only a model for many future Little Richard songs, but also one of the...

", Bowie 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
Hound Dog (song)
"Hound Dog" is a twelve-bar blues written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller and originally recorded by Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton in 1952. Other early versions illustrate the differences among blues, country, and rock and roll in the mid-1950s. The 1956 remake by Elvis Presley is the best-known...

' 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 the following year he had taken up the ukelele and tea-chest bass and begun to participate in skiffle
Skiffle
Skiffle is a type of popular music with jazz, blues, folk, roots and country influences, usually using homemade or improvised instruments. Originating as a term in the United States in the first half of the twentieth century, it became popular again in the UK in the 1950s, where it was mainly...

 sessions with friends, and had started to play the piano; meanwhile his stage presentation of numbers by both Presley and Chuck Berry
Chuck Berry
Charles Edward Anderson "Chuck" Berry is an American guitarist, singer, and songwriter, and one of the pioneers of rock and roll music. With songs such as "Maybellene" , "Roll Over Beethoven" , "Rock and Roll Music" and "Johnny B...

—complete with gyrations in tribute to the original artists—to his local Wolf Cub
Cub Scout
A Cub Scout is a member of the section of the worldwide Scouting movement for young persons, mainly boys normally aged about 7 to 11. In some countries they are known by their original name of Wolf Cubs and are often referred to simply as Cubs. The movement is often referred to simply as Cubbing...

 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.

It was an unusual technical school, as biographer Christopher Sandford writes:

Bowie studied art, music, and design, including layout and typesetting. After Terry Burns, his half-brother, introduced him to modern jazz
Jazz
Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. From its early development until the present, jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th...

, his enthusiasm for players like Charles Mingus
Charles Mingus
Charles Mingus Jr. was an American jazz musician, composer, bandleader, and civil rights activist.Mingus's compositions retained the hot and soulful feel of hard bop and drew heavily from black gospel music while sometimes drawing on elements of Third stream, free jazz, and classical music...

 and John Coltrane
John Coltrane
John William Coltrane was an American jazz saxophonist and composer. Working in the bebop and hard bop idioms early in his career, Coltrane helped pioneer the use of modes in jazz and later was at the forefront of free jazz...

 led his mother to give him a plastic alto saxophone
Alto saxophone
The alto saxophone is a member of the saxophone family of woodwind instruments invented by Belgian instrument designer Adolphe Sax in 1841. It is smaller than the tenor but larger than the soprano, and is the type most used in classical compositions...

 in 1961; he was soon receiving lessons from a local musician. He received a serious injury at school in 1962 when his friend George Underwood, wearing a ring on his finger, punched him in the left eye during a fight over a girl. Doctors feared he would lose the sight of the eye, and he was forced to stay out of school for a series of operations during a four-month hospitalisation. The damage could not be fully repaired, leaving him with faulty depth perception
Depth perception
Depth perception is the visual ability to perceive the world in three dimensions and the distance of an object. Depth sensation is the ability to move accurately, or to respond consistently, based on the distances of objects in an environment....

 and a permanently dilated pupil
Mydriasis
Mydriasis is a dilation of the pupil due to disease, trauma or the use of drugs. Normally, the pupil dilates in the dark and constricts in the light to respectively improve vividity at night and to protect the retina from sunlight damage during the day...

 (the latter producing Bowie's appearance of having different coloured eyes
Heterochromia
In anatomy, heterochromia refers to a difference in coloration, usually of the iris but also of hair or skin. Heterochromia is a result of the relative excess or lack of melanin...

, though each iris has the same blue colour). Despite their fisticuffs, Underwood and Bowie remained good friends, and Underwood went on to create the artwork for Bowie's early albums.

1962–68: the Konrads to the Riot Squad


Graduating from his plastic saxophone to a real instrument in 1962, Bowie formed his first band at the age of 15. Playing guitar-based rock and roll
Rock and roll
Rock and roll is a genre of popular music that originated and evolved in the United States during the late 1940s and early 1950s, primarily from a combination of African American blues, country, jazz, and gospel music...

 at local youth gatherings and weddings, the Konrads had a varying line-up of between four and eight members, Underwood among them. When Bowie left the technical school the following year, he informed his parents of his intention to become a pop star. His mother promptly arranged his employment as an electrician's mate. Frustrated by his band-mates' limited aspirations, Bowie left the Konrads and joined another band, the King Bees. He wrote to the 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." Bloom did not respond to the offer, but his referral to Dick James
Dick James
Dick James , born Reginald Leon Isaac Vapnick, was a music publisher and the founder of the DJM record label and recording studios, as well as The Beatles' publisher Northern Songs.-Early life:...

's partner Leslie Conn led to Bowie's first personal management contract.

Conn quickly began to promote Bowie. The singer's debut single, "Liza Jane", credited to Davie Jones and the King Bees, had no commercial success. Dissatisfied with the King Bees and their repertoire of Howlin' Wolf
Howlin' Wolf
Chester Arthur Burnett , known as Howlin' Wolf, was an influential American blues singer, guitarist and harmonica player....

 and Willie Dixon
Willie Dixon
William James "Willie" Dixon was an American blues musician, vocalist, songwriter, arranger and record producer. A Grammy Award winner who was proficient on both the Upright bass and the guitar, as well as his own singing voice, Dixon is arguably best known as one of the most prolific songwriters...

 blues numbers, Bowie quit the band less than a month later to join the Manish Boys, another blues outfit, who incorporated folk and soul — "I used to dream of being their Mick Jagger
Mick Jagger
Sir Michael Philip "Mick" Jagger is an English musician, singer and songwriter, best known as the lead vocalist and a founding member of The Rolling Stones....

", Bowie was to recall. "I Pity the Fool
I Pity the Fool
"I Pity the Fool" is a song originally recorded by Bobby Bland in 1961 for Duke Records. The song was credited to Deadric Malone, a pseudonym of Duke Records owner Don Robey...

" was no more successful than "Liza Jane", and Bowie soon moved on again to join the Lower Third, a blues trio strongly influenced by The Who
The Who
The Who are an English rock band formed in 1964 by Roger Daltrey , Pete Townshend , John Entwistle and Keith Moon . They became known for energetic live performances which often included instrument destruction...

. "You've Got a Habit of Leaving
You've Got a Habit of Leaving
"You've Got a Habit of Leaving" is a song written by David Bowie in 1965 and released as a single under the name Davy Jones . It was the last song that Bowie, born David Jones, released before changing his name to avoid confusion with Davy Jones of The Monkees, and the first of two singles that he...

" fared no better, signalling the end of Conn's contract. Declaring that he would exit the pop world "to study mime at Sadler's Wells
Sadler's Wells Theatre
Sadler's Wells Theatre is a performing arts venue located in Rosebery Avenue, Clerkenwell in the London Borough of Islington. The present day theatre is the sixth on the site since 1683. It consists of two performance spaces: a 1,500 seat main auditorium and the Lilian Baylis Studio, with extensive...

", Bowie nevertheless remained with the Lower Third. His new 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 single release, "Do Anything You Say
Do Anything You Say
"Do Anything You Say" was a single by David Bowie.Released in 1966, despite featuring Bowie’s backing band at the time, The Buzz, the single was to be the first simply credited to David Bowie...

". While with the Buzz, Bowie also joined the Riot Squad
The Riot Squad
The Riot Squad were a pop group from London, initially managed and produced by Larry Page and later, for their reunion, by Joe Meek.Members included Graham Bonney , Ron Ryan , Len Tuckey , Mark Stevens , brian davies , Mitch Mitchell , Roger Crisp, Terry Clifford, Butch Davis, Derek "Del" Roll...

; their recordings, which included a Bowie number and Velvet Underground material, went unreleased. Ken Pitt, introduced by Horton, took over as Bowie's manager.

Dissatisfied with his stage name as Davy (and Davie) Jones, which in the mid-1960s invited confusion with Davy Jones
Davy Jones (actor)
David Thomas "Davy" Jones is an English rock singer-songwriter and actor best known as a member of the Monkees.-Early life:...

 of The Monkees
The Monkees
The Monkees are an American pop rock group. Assembled in Los Angeles in 1966 by Robert "Bob" Rafelson and Bert Schneider for the American television series The Monkees, which aired from 1966 to 1968, the musical acting quartet was composed of Americans Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork,...

, Bowie re-named himself after the 19th century American frontiersman Jim Bowie
Jim Bowie
James "Jim" Bowie , a 19th-century American pioneer, slave trader, land speculator, and soldier, played a prominent role in the Texas Revolution, culminating in his death at the Battle of the Alamo...

 and the knife he had popularised
Bowie knife
A Bowie knife is a pattern of fixed-blade fighting knife first popularized by Colonel James "Jim" Bowie in the early 19th Century. Since the first incarnation was created by James Black, the Bowie knife has come to incorporate several recognizable and characteristic design features, although its...

. His April 1967 solo single, "The Laughing Gnome
The Laughing Gnome
"The Laughing Gnome" is a song by David Bowie. A pastiche of songs by one of Bowie's early influences, Anthony Newley, it was originally released as a novelty single on Deram Records in 1967, the track consisted of the singer meeting and conversing with the creature of the title, whose sped-up...

", utilising sped-up Chipmunk
The Chipmunks
Alvin and the Chipmunks is an American animated music group created by Ross Bagdasarian, Sr. in 1958. The group consists of three singing animated anthropomorphic chipmunks: Alvin, the mischievous troublemaker, who quickly became the star of the group; Simon, the tall, bespectacled intellectual;...

-style vocals, failed to chart. Released six weeks later, his album debut, David Bowie
David Bowie (album)
-Bonus tracks :# "Rubber Band" – Mono Single A-side # "The London Boys" – Mono Single B-side # "The Laughing Gnome" – Mono Single A-side # "The Gospel According To Tony Day" – Mono Single B-side...

, an amalgam of pop, psychedelia
Psychedelic rock
Psychedelic rock is a style of rock music that is inspired or influenced by psychedelic culture and attempts to replicate and enhance the mind-altering experiences of psychedelic drugs. It emerged during the mid 1960s among folk rock and blues rock bands in United States and the United Kingdom...

, and music hall
Music hall
Music Hall is a type of British theatrical entertainment which was popular between 1850 and 1960. The term can refer to:# A particular form of variety entertainment involving a mixture of popular song, comedy and speciality acts...

, met the same fate. It would be his last release for two years.

Bowie's fascination with the bizarre was fuelled when he met dancer Lindsay Kemp
Lindsay Kemp
Lindsay Kemp is a British dancer, actor, teacher, mime artist and choreographer.Born in South Shields on May 3, 1938, Kemp's father, a seaman, was lost at sea in 1940. According to Kemp, he danced from early childhood: "I'd dance on the kitchen table to entertain the neighbours. I mean, it was a...

: "He 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
Avant-garde
Avant-garde means "advance guard" or "vanguard". The adjective form is used in English to refer to people or works that are experimental or innovative, particularly with respect to art, culture, and politics....

 theatre and mime
Mime artist
A mime artist is someone who uses mime as a theatrical medium or as a performance art, involving miming, or the acting out a story through body motions, without use of speech. In earlier times, in English, such a performer was referred to as a mummer...

 to commedia dell'arte
Commedia dell'arte
Commedia dell'arte is a form of theatre characterized by masked "types" which began in Italy in the 16th century, and was responsible for the advent of the actress and improvised performances based on sketches or scenarios. The closest translation of the name is "comedy of craft"; it is shortened...

, 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 Oscar
Paul Nicholas
Paul Nicholas is an English actor and singer who has had considerable success on stage, screen and in the pop charts.-Biography:Nicholas was born as Paul Oscar Beuselinck in Peterborough, England...

; another Bowie composition, "Silly Boy Blue", was released by Billy Fury
Billy Fury
Billy Fury, born Ronald William Wycherley , was an internationally successful English singer from the late-1950s to the mid-1960s, and remained an active songwriter until the 1980s. Rheumatic fever, which he first contracted as a child, damaged his heart and ultimately contributed to his death...

 the following year. After Kemp cast Bowie with Hermione Farthingale for a poetic minuet, the pair began dating; they 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
Beat music
Beat music, British beat, or Merseybeat is a pop and rock music genre that developed in the United Kingdom in the early 1960s. Beat music is a fusion of rock and roll, doo wop, skiffle, R&B and soul...

, poetry and mime.

Space Oddity to Hunky Dory


Because of his lack of commercial success, Bowie was forced to try to earn a living in different ways. He featured in a Lyons Maid
Lyons Maid
Lyons Maid was a brand of ice-creams and ice-lollies created in 1925as a spin-off from the J. Lyons and Co. retail organisation.Well known brands produced by Lyons Maid included: Zoom, Strawberry Mivvie, Orange Maid, Lolly Gobble Choc Bomb, Fab and Haunted House.Its heyday was probably the 1970s...

 ice cream commercial, but was rejected for another by Kit Kat
Kit Kat
Kit Kat is a chocolate-coated wafer confection that was created by Rowntree's of York, England, and is now produced worldwide by Nestlé, which acquired Rowntree in 1988, except in the United States where it is made under licence by The Hershey Company. Each bar consists of fingers composed of three...

. Intended as a vehicle to promote the singer, a 30-minute film featuring performances from his repertoire, Love You till Tuesday, was made. Although not released until 1984, the filming sessions in January 1969 led to unexpected success when Bowie told the producers, "That film of yours—I've got a new song for it." He then demoed the song that would provide his commercial breakthrough. "Space Oddity" was released later in the year to coincide with the first moon landing. Breaking up with Farthingale shortly after completion of the film, Bowie moved in with Mary Finnigan as her lodger. Continuing the divergence from rock and roll and blues begun by his work with Farthingale, Bowie joined forces with Finnigan, Christina Ostrom and Barrie Jackson to run a folk club on Sunday nights at the Three Tuns pub in Beckenham
Beckenham
Beckenham is a town in the London Borough of Bromley, England. It is located 8.4 miles south east of Charing Cross and 1.75 miles west of Bromley town...

 High Street. This soon morphed into the Beckenham Arts Lab, and became extremely popular. The Arts Lab hosted a free festival in a local park, later immortalised by Bowie in his song "Memory of a Free Festival
Memory of a Free Festival
"Memory of a Free Festival" is a 1970 single by David Bowie. The song had originally been recorded as a seven-minute opus for Bowie's second self-titled album...

". "Space Oddity" was released on 11 July, five days ahead of the Apollo 11
Apollo 11
In early 1969, Bill Anders accepted a job with the National Space Council effective in August 1969 and announced his retirement as an astronaut. At that point Ken Mattingly was moved from the support crew into parallel training with Anders as backup Command Module Pilot in case Apollo 11 was...

 launch, to become a UK top five hit. Bowie's second album, Space Oddity
Space Oddity (album)
-Release history:-7" open reel tape releases:There was only one release of Space Oddity on open reel, in 1972 duplicated by Magtec, North Hollywood, CA 91605. This is a high speed 7.5 ips release...

, followed in November; originally issued in the UK as David Bowie, it caused some confusion with its predecessor of the same name, and the early US release was instead titled Man of Words/Man of Music. Featuring philosophical post-hippie lyrics on peace, love and morality, its acoustic folk rock occasionally fortified by harder rock, the album was not a commercial success at the time of its release.

Bowie met Angela Barnett
Angela Bowie
Angela Bowie is an American cover girl, model, actress and musician. She is the former wife of English musician David Bowie and mother of film director Duncan Jones.-Early life:...

 in April 1969. They would marry within a year. Her impact on him was immediate, and her involvement in his career far-reaching, leaving Pitt with limited influence. Having established himself as a solo artist with "Space Oddity", Bowie now began to sense a lack: "a full-time band for gigs and recording—people he could relate to personally". The shortcoming was underlined by his artistic rivalry with Marc Bolan
Marc Bolan
Marc Bolan was an English singer-songwriter, guitarist and poet. He is best known as the founder, frontman, lead singer & guitarist for T. Rex, but also a successful solo artist...

, who was at the time acting as his session guitarist. A band was duly assembled. John Cambridge, a drummer Bowie met at the Arts Lab, was joined by Tony Visconti
Tony Visconti
Anthony Edward Visconti is an American record producer and sometimes a musician or singer.Since the late 1960s, he has worked with an array of performers; his lengthiest involvement with any artist is with David Bowie: intermittently from Bowie's 1969 album Space Oddity to 2003's Reality, Visconti...

 on bass and Mick Ronson
Mick Ronson
Michael "Mick" Ronson was an English guitarist, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, arranger and producer. He is best known for his work with David Bowie, as one of The Spiders from Mars...

 on electric guitar. After a brief and disastrous manifestation as the Hype, the group reverted to a configuration presenting Bowie as a solo artist. Their initial studio work was marred by a heated disagreement between Bowie and Cambridge over the latter's drumming style; matters came to a head when Bowie, enraged, accused, "You're fucking up my album." Cambridge summarily quit and was replaced by Mick Woodmansey
Mick Woodmansey
Mick 'Woody' Woodmansey is an English rock drummer from Driffield, Yorkshire, best known for his work with David Bowie and the Spiders from Mars...

. Not long after, in a move that would result in years of litigation, at the conclusion of which Bowie would be forced to pay Pitt compensation, the singer fired his manager, replacing him with Tony Defries
Tony DeFries
Tony Defries is a British former record producer and pop manager, and more recently inventor.DeFries worked in the 1960s music scene with such figures as Mickie Most, Allen Klein, before turning his attention to David Bowie...

.

The studio sessions continued and resulted in Bowie's third album, The Man Who Sold the World (1970). Characterised by the heavy rock sound of his new backing band, it was a marked departure from the acoustic guitar and folk rock style established by Space Oddity. To promote it in the United States, Mercury Records
Mercury Records
Mercury Records is a record label operating as a standalone company in the UK and as part of the Island Def Jam Motown Music Group in the US; both are subsidiaries of Universal Music Group. There is also a Mercury Records in Australia, which is a local artist and repertoire division of Universal...

 financed a coast-to-coast publicity tour in which Bowie, between January and February 1971, was interviewed by radio stations and the media. Exploiting his androgynous
Androgyny
Androgyny is a term derived from the Greek words ανήρ, stem ανδρ- and γυνή , referring to the combination of masculine and feminine characteristics...

 appearance, the original cover of the UK version unveiled two months later would depict the singer wearing a dress: taking the garment with him, he wore it during interviews—to the approval of critics, including Rolling Stones John Mendelsohn who described him as "ravishing, almost disconcertingly reminiscent of Lauren Bacall
Lauren Bacall
Lauren Bacall is an American film and stage actress and model, known for her distinctive husky voice and sultry looks.She first emerged as leading lady in the Humphrey Bogart film To Have And Have Not and continued on in the film noir genre, with appearances in The Big Sleep and Dark Passage ,...

"—and in the street, to mixed reaction including laughter and, in the case of one male pedestrian, producing a gun and telling Bowie to "kiss my ass". During the tour Bowie's observation of two seminal American proto-punk artists led him to develop a concept that would eventually find form in the Ziggy Stardust character: a melding of the persona of Iggy Pop
Iggy Pop
Iggy Pop is an American singer, songwriter, musician, and actor. Though considered an innovator of punk rock, Pop's music has encompassed a number of styles over the years, including pop, metal, jazz and blues...

 with the music of Lou Reed
Lou Reed
Lewis Allan "Lou" Reed is an American rock musician, songwriter, and photographer. He is best known as guitarist, vocalist, and principal songwriter of The Velvet Underground, and for his successful solo career, which has spanned several decades...

, producing "the ultimate pop idol". A girlfriend recalled his "scrawling notes on a cocktail napkin about a crazy rock star named Iggy or Ziggy", and on his return to England he declared his intention to create a character "who looks like he's landed from Mars".

Hunky Dory
Hunky Dory
Hunky Dory is the fourth album by English singer-songwriter David Bowie, released by RCA Records in 1971. It was Bowie's first release through RCA, which would be his label for the next decade...

(1971) found Visconti, Bowie's producer and bassist, supplanted in both roles, by Ken Scott
Ken Scott
Ken Scott is an English record producer and recording engineer.-Career:Scott started at the age of 16 working in the tape library at Abbey Road Studios. He became a recording engineer working with such acts as The Beatles, Jeff Beck, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones and Procol Harum...

 and Trevor Bolder
Trevor Bolder
Trevor Bolder is an English rock bassist, musician, songwriter and record producer. He is best known for his long association with Uriah Heep and his tenure with The Spiders From Mars, the one-time backing band for David Bowie, although he has played alongside a variety of musicians since the...

 respectively. The album saw the partial return of the fey pop singer of "Space Oddity", with light fare such as "Kooks
Kooks (song)
"Kooks" is a song written by David Bowie from 1971 on the album Hunky Dory. Bowie wrote this song to his newborn son Duncan Jones. The song was a pastiche of early 1970s Neil Young. Bowie was listening to a Neil Young record at home as he got the news of the arrival of his son. British indie band...

", a song written for his son, Duncan Zowie Haywood Jones
Duncan Jones
Duncan Zowie Haywood Jones , also known as Zowie Bowie is an English film director, best known for directing the science fiction films Moon and Source Code .-Childhood and family life:...

, born on 30 May. (His parents chose "his kooky name"—he would be known as Zowie for the next 12 years—after the Greek word zoe, life.) Elsewhere, the album explored more serious themes, and found Bowie paying unusually direct homage to his influences with "Song for Bob Dylan
Song for Bob Dylan
"Song for Bob Dylan" is a song written by David Bowie in 1971 for the album Hunky Dory. In the opening lyrics of the song, David Bowie describes Bob Dylan's voice "like sand and glue" which is similar to how Joyce Carol Oates described it upon first meeting Dylan: "When we first heard this raw,...

", "Andy Warhol", and "Queen Bitch
Queen Bitch
"Queen Bitch" is a song written by David Bowie in 1971 for the album Hunky Dory. Bowie was a great Velvet Underground fan and wrote the song in tribute to the band and Lou Reed...

", a Velvet Underground pastiche. It was not a significant commercial success at the time.

Ziggy Stardust



With his next venture, Bowie, in the words of biographer David Buckley, "challenged the core belief of the rock music of its day" and "created perhaps the biggest cult in popular culture". Dressed in a striking costume, his hair dyed red, Bowie launched his Ziggy Stardust stage show with the Spiders from Mars
The Spiders from Mars
The Spiders from Mars were rock singer David Bowie 's backing band in the early 1970s, and consisted of Mick Ronson on guitars, Trevor Bolder on bass guitar, and Mick Woodmansey on drums....

—Ronson, Bolder and Woodmansey—at the Toby Jug pub in Tolworth
Tolworth
Tolworth is a mostly residential area of outer South London in the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, located south west of Charing Cross. Neighbouring places include: New Malden, Kingston, Surbiton, Berrylands, Chessington, Ewell and Worcester Park....

 on 10 February 1972. The show was hugely popular, catapulting him to stardom as he toured the UK over the course of the next six months and creating, as described by Buckley, a "cult of Bowie" that was "unique—its influence lasted longer and has been more creative than perhaps almost any other force within pop fandom." The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars is a 1972 concept album by English musician David Bowie, which is loosely based on a story of a rock star named Ziggy Stardust. It peaked at number five in the United Kingdom and number 75 in the United States on the Billboard Music...

(1972), combining the hard rock elements of The Man Who Sold the World with the lighter experimental rock and pop of Hunky Dory, was released in June. "Starman
Starman (song)
"Starman" is a single by David Bowie, released in April 1972. The song was a late addition to The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, included at the insistence of RCA’s Dennis Katz, who heard a demo and loved the track, believing it would make a great single...

", issued as an April single ahead of the album, was to cement Bowie's UK breakthrough: both single and album charted rapidly following his July Top of the Pops
Top of the Pops
Top of the Pops, also known as TOTP, is a British music chart television programme, made by the BBC and originally broadcast weekly from 1 January 1964 to 30 July 2006. After 25 December 2006 it became a radio program, now hosted by Tony Blackburn...

performance of the song. The album, which would remain in the chart for two years, was soon joined there by the six-month-old Hunky Dory. At the same time the non-album single "John, I’m Only Dancing", and "All the Young Dudes
All the Young Dudes (song)
"All the Young Dudes" is a song written by David Bowie, originally recorded and released as a single by Mott the Hoople in 1972. NME editors Roy Carr and Charles Shaar Murray have described the track as "one of that rare breed: rock songs which hymn the solidarity of the disaffected without...

", a song he wrote and produced for Mott the Hoople
Mott the Hoople
Mott the Hoople were a British rock band with strong R&B roots, popular in the glam rock era of the early to mid 1970s. They are popularly known for the song "All the Young Dudes", written for them by David Bowie and appearing on their 1972 album of the same name.-The early years:Mott The Hoople...

, became UK hits. The Ziggy Stardust Tour
Ziggy Stardust Tour
The Ziggy Stardust Tour was a concert tour by David Bowie in United Kingdom, North America, and Japan in 1972-73, to promote the studio albums Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane.-The band:*David Bowie - vocals, guitar, harmonica...

 continued to the United States.

Bowie contributed backing vocals to Lou Reed's 1972 solo breakthrough Transformer
Transformer (album)
Transformer is the second studio album by American rock musician Lou Reed, released in November 1972.-Background:Unlike its predecessor, Lou Reed, eight songs of which were written during his Velvet Underground days, Transformer contains mainly new material...

, co-producing the album with Mick Ronson. His own Aladdin Sane
Aladdin Sane
Aladdin Sane is the sixth album by David Bowie, released by RCA Records in 1973 . The follow-up to his breakthrough The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, it was the first album Bowie wrote and released as a bona fide rock star...

(1973) topped the UK chart, his first number one album. Described by Bowie as "Ziggy goes to America", it contained songs he wrote while travelling to and across the United States during the earlier part of the Ziggy tour, which now continued to Japan to promote the new album. Aladdin Sane spawned the UK top five singles "The Jean Genie
The Jean Genie
"The Jean Genie" is a song by David Bowie, originally released as a single in November 1972. According to Bowie, it was "a smorgasbord of imagined Americana", with a protagonist inspired by Iggy Pop, and the title being a pun on author Jean Genet. One of Bowie’s most famous tracks, it was the lead...

" and "Drive-In Saturday
Drive-In Saturday
"Drive-In Saturday" is a song by David Bowie from his 1973 album Aladdin Sane. It was released as a single a week before the album and, like its predecessor "The Jean Genie", became a Top 3 UK hit.-Music and lyrics:...

".

Bowie's love of acting led his total immersion in the characters he created for his music. "Offstage I'm a robot. Onstage I achieve emotion. It's probably why I prefer dressing up as Ziggy to being David." With satisfaction came severe personal difficulties: acting the same role over an extended period, it became impossible for him to separate Ziggy Stardust—and, later, the Thin White Duke—from his own character offstage. Ziggy, Bowie said, "wouldn't leave me alone for years. That was when it all started to go sour ... My whole personality was affected. It became very dangerous. I really did have doubts about my sanity." His later Ziggy shows, which included songs from both Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane, were ultra-theatrical affairs filled with shocking stage moments, such as Bowie stripping down to a sumo wrestling
Sumo
is a competitive full-contact sport where a wrestler attempts to force another wrestler out of a circular ring or to touch the ground with anything other than the soles of the feet. The sport originated in Japan, the only country where it is practiced professionally...

 loincloth or simulating oral sex
Oral sex
Oral sex is sexual activity involving the stimulation of the genitalia of a sex partner by the use of the mouth, tongue, teeth or throat. Cunnilingus refers to oral sex performed on females while fellatio refer to oral sex performed on males. Anilingus refers to oral stimulation of a person's anus...

 with Ronson's guitar. Bowie toured and gave press conferences as Ziggy before a dramatic and abrupt on-stage "retirement" at London's Hammersmith Odeon on 3 July 1973. Footage from the final show was released in 1983 for the film Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (film)
Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars is a 1973 documentary and concert movie by D.A. Pennebaker. It features David Bowie and his backing group The Spiders from Mars performing at the Hammersmith Odeon, July 3, 1973...

.
After breaking up the Spiders from Mars, Bowie attempted to move on from his Ziggy persona. His back catalogue was now highly sought: The Man Who Sold the World had been re-released in 1972 along with Space Oddity. "Life on Mars?", from Hunky Dory, was released in June 1973 and made number three in the UK singles chart. Entering the same chart in September, Bowie's novelty record from 1967, "The Laughing Gnome
The Laughing Gnome
"The Laughing Gnome" is a song by David Bowie. A pastiche of songs by one of Bowie's early influences, Anthony Newley, it was originally released as a novelty single on Deram Records in 1967, the track consisted of the singer meeting and conversing with the creature of the title, whose sped-up...

", would reach number four. Pin Ups
Pin Ups
- Personnel :* David Bowie – vocals, guitar, tenor and alto saxophone, harmonica, arrangements, backing vocals, Moog synthesizer* Mick Ronson – guitar, piano, vocals, arrangements* Trevor Bolder – bass* Aynsley Dunbar – drums- Additional personnel :...

, a collection of covers of his 1960s favourites, followed in October, producing a UK number three hit in "Sorrow" and itself peaking at number one, making David Bowie the best-selling act of 1973 in the UK. It brought the total number of Bowie albums currently in the UK chart to six.

1974–76: Soul, funk and the Thin White Duke



Bowie moved to the United States in 1974, initially staying in New York City before settling in Los Angeles. Diamond Dogs
Diamond Dogs
Diamond Dogs is a concept album by David Bowie, originally released by RCA Records in 1974. Thematically it was a marriage of the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell and Bowie's own glam-tinged vision of a post-apocalyptic world...

(1974), parts of which found him heading towards soul and funk
Funk
Funk is a music genre that originated in the mid-late 1960s when African American musicians blended soul music, jazz and R&B into a rhythmic, danceable new form of music. Funk de-emphasizes melody and harmony and brings a strong rhythmic groove of electric bass and drums to the foreground...

, was the product of two distinct ideas: a musical based on a wild future in a post-apocalyptic
Apocalypse
An Apocalypse is a disclosure of something hidden from the majority of mankind in an era dominated by falsehood and misconception, i.e. the veil to be lifted. The Apocalypse of John is the Book of Revelation, the last book of the New Testament...

 city, and setting George Orwell
George Orwell
Eric Arthur Blair , better known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English author and journalist...

's 1984
Nineteen Eighty-Four
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell is a dystopian novel about Oceania, a society ruled by the oligarchical dictatorship of the Party...

to music. The album went to number one in the UK, spawning the hits "Rebel Rebel
Rebel Rebel
"Rebel Rebel" is a song by David Bowie, released in 1974 as a single and on the album Diamond Dogs. Cited as his most-covered track, it was effectively Bowie's farewell to the glam movement that had made him a star.-Music and lyrics:...

" and "Diamond Dogs
Diamond Dogs (song)
"Diamond Dogs" is a 1974 single by David Bowie, and the title track of the album of the same name.The lyric introduces the listener to Bowie’s latest persona and his environment; Halloween Jack dwells on top of tenement buildings in a post-apocalyptic Manhattan...

", and number five in the US. To promote it, Bowie launched the Diamond Dogs Tour
Diamond Dogs Tour
The Diamond Dogs Tour was a concert tour by David Bowie in North America in 1974 to promote the studio album Diamond Dogs. The end of the tour was also called The Soul Tour, which included some songs from the forthcoming album Young Americans....

, visiting cities in North America between June and December 1974. Choreographed by Toni Basil
Toni Basil
Antonia Christina Basilotta , better known by her stage name Toni Basil, is an American singer-songwriter, actress, filmmaker, film director, choreographer, and dancer, best known for her multi-million-selling worldwide #1 hit "Mickey" from 1982.-Early life:Basil was born Antonia Christina...

, and lavishly produced with theatrical special effects, the high-budget stage production was filmed by Alan Yentob
Alan Yentob
Alan Yentob is a British television executive and presenter who has worked throughout his career at the BBC.-Early life:...

. The resulting documentary, Cracked Actor
Cracked Actor
Cracked Actor is a 53-minute-long BBC television documentary film about the pop star David Bowie. It was filmed in 1974. At the time he was a cocaine addict and the documentary has become notorious for showing Bowie's fragile mental state during this period...

, featured a pasty and emaciated Bowie: the tour coincided with the singer's slide from heavy cocaine
Cocaine
Cocaine is a crystalline tropane alkaloid that is obtained from the leaves of the coca plant. The name comes from "coca" in addition to the alkaloid suffix -ine, forming cocaine. It is a stimulant of the central nervous system, an appetite suppressant, and a topical anesthetic...

 use into addiction, producing severe physical debilitation, paranoia
Paranoia
Paranoia [] is a thought process believed to be heavily influenced by anxiety or fear, often to the point of irrationality and delusion. Paranoid thinking typically includes persecutory beliefs, or beliefs of conspiracy concerning a perceived threat towards oneself...

 and emotional problems. He later commented that the accompanying live album, David Live
David Live
David Live is David Bowie’s first official live album, originally released by RCA Records in 1974. Recorded on the initial leg of Bowie’s US tour supporting Diamond Dogs in July of that year , it has been cited as one of the best live...

, ought to have been titled "David Bowie Is Alive and Well and Living Only In Theory". David Live nevertheless solidified Bowie's status as a superstar, charting at number two in the UK and number eight in the US. It also spawned a UK number ten hit in Bowie's cover of "Knock on Wood
Knock on Wood (song)
"Knock on Wood" is a hit 1966 song written by Eddie Floyd and Steve Cropper and originally performed by Eddie Floyd. The Eddie Floyd version peaked at number twenty-eight on the Hot 100, and spent one week at number one on the soul singles....

". After a break in Philadelphia
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia is the largest city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the county seat of Philadelphia County, with which it is coterminous. The city is located in the Northeastern United States along the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers. It is the fifth-most-populous city in the United States,...

, where Bowie recorded new material, the tour resumed with a new emphasis on soul.

The fruit of the Philadelphia recording sessions was Young Americans
Young Americans (album)
Young Americans, released in 1975, shows off David Bowie’s 1970’s shift to his “obsession” with soul music . For this album, Bowie let go of the influences he had drawn from in the past, replacing them with sounds from “local dance halls”, which, at the time, were blaring with “…lush strings,...

(1975). Biographer Christopher Sandford writes, "Over the years, most British rockers had tried, one way or another, to become black-by-extension. Few had succeeded as Bowie did now." The album's sound, which the singer identified as "plastic soul
Plastic soul
Plastic soul is a term coined by an unknown black musician in the 1960s, describing Mick Jagger as a white musician singing soul music.Paul McCartney heard the comment and later said that the name of the The Beatles album Rubber Soul was inspired by the term "plastic soul"...

", constituted a radical shift in style that initially alienated many of his UK devotees. Young Americans yielded Bowie's first US number one, "Fame
Fame (David Bowie song)
"Fame" is a song recorded by David Bowie, initially released in 1975. It reached number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 during the week of September 20, 1975.-Song development:...

", co-written with John Lennon
John Lennon
John Winston Lennon, MBE was an English musician and singer-songwriter who rose to worldwide fame as one of the founding members of The Beatles, one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music...

, who contributed backing vocals, and Carlos Alomar
Carlos Alomar
Carlos Alomar is an American guitarist, composer and arranger best known for his work with David Bowie, having played on more Bowie albums than any other musician...

. Lennon would call Bowie's work "great, but just rock and roll with lipstick on". Earning the distinction of being one of the first white artists to appear on the US variety show Soul Train
Soul Train
Soul Train is an American musical variety show that aired in syndication from October 1971 to March 2006. In its 35-year history, the show primarily featured performances by R&B, soul, and hip hop artists, although funk, jazz, disco, and gospel artists have also appeared.As a nod to Soul Trains...

, Bowie mimed "Fame", as well as "Golden Years
Golden Years (song)
An updated single for "Golden Years" was released in 2011 to coincide with the re-release of Station to Station. 4 new remixes were provided by DJs from radio station KCRW in California.-Track listing:# "Golden Years " - 3:27...

", his October single, and that it was offered to Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley
Elvis Aaron Presley was one of the most popular American singers of the 20th century. A cultural icon, he is widely known by the single name Elvis. He is often referred to as the "King of Rock and Roll" or simply "the King"....

 to perform, but Presley declined it. Young Americans was a commercial success in both the US and the UK, and a re-issue of the 1969 single "Space Oddity" became Bowie's first number one hit in the UK a few months after "Fame" achieved the same in the US. Despite his by now well established superstardom, Bowie, in the words of biographer Christopher Sandford, "for all his record sales (over a million copies of Ziggy Stardust alone), existed essentially on loose change." In 1975, in a move echoing Ken Pitt's acrimonious dismissal five years earlier, Bowie fired his manager. At the culmination of the ensuing months-long legal dispute, he watched, as described by Sandford, "millions of dollars of his future earnings being surrendered" in what were "uniquely generous terms for Defries", then "shut himself up in West 20th Street, where for a week his howls could be heard through the locked attic door." Michael Lippman, Bowie's lawyer during the negotiations, became his new manager; Lippman in turn would be awarded substantial compensation when Bowie fired him the following year.


Station to Station
Station to Station
Station to Station is the tenth studio album by English musician David Bowie, released by RCA Records in 1976. Commonly regarded as one of his most significant works, Station to Station is also notable as the vehicle for Bowie's last great 'character', The Thin White Duke...

(1976) introduced a new Bowie persona, the "Thin White Duke" of its title track. Visually, the character was an extension of Thomas Jerome Newton, the extraterrestrial being he portrayed in the film The Man Who Fell to Earth
The Man Who Fell to Earth (film)
The Man Who Fell to Earth is a 1976 British science fiction film directed by Nicolas Roeg.The film is based on the 1963 novel of the same name by Walter Tevis, about an extraterrestrial who crash lands on Earth seeking a way to ship water to his planet, which is suffering from a severe drought...

the same year. Developing the funk and soul of Young Americans, Station to Station also prefigured the Krautrock
Krautrock
Krautrock is a generic name for the experimental music scenes that appeared in Germany in the late 1960s and gained popularity throughout the 1970s, especially in Britain. The term is a result of the English-speaking world's reception of the music at the time and not a reference to any one...

 and synthesiser music of his next releases. The extent to which drug addiction was now affecting Bowie was made public when Russell Harty
Russell Harty
Russell Harty was an English television presenter of arts programmes and chat shows.-Early life:Born Frederick Russell Harty in Blackburn, Lancashire, he was the son of a fruit and vegetable stallholder on the local market...

 interviewed the singer for his London Weekend Television
London Weekend Television
London Weekend Television was the name of the ITV network franchise holder for Greater London and the Home Counties including south Suffolk, middle and east Hampshire, Oxfordshire, south Bedfordshire, south Northamptonshire, parts of Herefordshire & Worcestershire, Warwickshire, east Dorset and...

 talk show in anticipation of the album's supporting tour. Shortly before the satellite-linked interview was scheduled to commence, the death of the Spanish dictator General Franco was announced. Bowie was asked to relinquish the satellite booking, to allow the Spanish Government to put out a live newsfeed. This he refused to do, and his interview went ahead. In the ensuing conversation with Harty, as described by biographer David Buckley, "the singer made hardly any sense at all throughout what was quite an extensive interview. [...] Bowie looked completely disconnected and was hardly able to utter a coherent sentence." His sanity—by his own later admission—had become twisted from cocaine; he overdosed several times during the year, and was withering physically to an alarming degree.

Station to Stations January 1976 release was followed in February by a three-and-a-half-month concert tour of Europe and North America. Featuring a starkly lit set, the Isolar – 1976 Tour highlighted songs from the album, including the dramatic and lengthy title track
Station to Station (song)
"Station to Station" is a song written by David Bowie in 1975 and released in 1976. It is the title track and opener for the album of the same name. The song is Bowie's longest studio recording, clocking in just above 10 minutes...

, the ballads "Wild Is the Wind
Wild Is the Wind (song)
"Wild Is the Wind" is a song written by Dimitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington. The track was originally recorded by Johnny Mathis for the 1957 film Wild Is the Wind...

" and "Word on a Wing
Word on a Wing
"Word on a Wing" is a song written by David Bowie in 1976 for the Station to Station album.Bowie admits that the song was written out of a coke-addled spiritual despair that he experienced while filming the movie The Man Who Fell To Earth...

", and the funkier "TVC 15
TVC 15
"TVC 15" is a song written and recorded by David Bowie and released in 1976.The track was inspired by an episode in which Iggy Pop, during a drug-fuelled period at Bowie’s LA home, hallucinated and believed the television set was swallowing his girlfriend. Bowie developed a story of a holographic...

" and "Stay
Stay (David Bowie song)
"Stay" is a song written by David Bowie for the 1976 album Station to Station.In July 1976 it was released as a single by RCA in the US. The length of the album version of "Stay" is 6:15....

". The core band that coalesced around this album and tour—rhythm guitarist Alomar, bassist George Murray
George Murray (musician)
George Murray is an American bass guitarist best known for his work with David Bowie as a part of his regular ensemble , on a number of Bowie's albums released in the 1970s.-Selective Discography:Weldon Irvine...

, and drummer Dennis Davis
Dennis Davis
Dennis Davis is an American drummer and session musician best known for his work with David Bowie.He was born and raised in Manhattan, New York City and studied with the late drummers Max Roach and Elvin Jones. He met guitarist Carlos Alomar when they were both playing with Roy Ayers...

—would continue as a stable unit for the remainder of the 1970s. The tour was highly successful but mired in political controversy. Bowie was quoted in Stockholm
Stockholm
Stockholm is the capital and the largest city of Sweden and constitutes the most populated urban area in Scandinavia. Stockholm is the most populous city in Sweden, with a population of 851,155 in the municipality , 1.37 million in the urban area , and around 2.1 million in the metropolitan area...

 as saying that "Britain could benefit from a Fascist leader", and detained by customs on the Russian/Polish border for possessing Nazi paraphernalia. Matters came to a head in London in May in what became known as the "Victoria Station incident". Arriving in an open-top Mercedes
Mercedes-Benz
Mercedes-Benz is a German manufacturer of automobiles, buses, coaches, and trucks. Mercedes-Benz is a division of its parent company, Daimler AG...

 convertible
Convertible
A convertible is a type of automobile in which the roof can retract and fold away having windows which wind-down inside the doors, converting it from an enclosed to an open-air vehicle...

, the singer waved to the crowd in a gesture that some alleged was a Nazi salute, which was captured on camera and published in NME
NME
The New Musical Express is a popular music publication in the United Kingdom, published weekly since March 1952. It started as a music newspaper, and gradually moved toward a magazine format during the 1980s, changing from newsprint in 1998. It was the first British paper to include a singles...

. Bowie said the photographer simply caught him in mid-wave. He later blamed his pro-Fascism comments and his behaviour during the period on his addictions and the character of the Thin White Duke. "I was out of my mind, totally crazed. The main thing I was functioning on was mythology ... that whole thing about Hitler and Rightism ... I'd discovered King Arthur ...". According to playwright Alan Franks, writing later in The Times, "he was indeed 'deranged'. He had some very bad experiences with hard drugs."

1976–79: the Berlin era



Bowie moved to Switzerland in 1976, purchasing a chalet in the hills to the north of Lake Geneva
Lake Geneva
Lake Geneva or Lake Léman is a lake in Switzerland and France. It is one of the largest lakes in Western Europe. 59.53 % of it comes under the jurisdiction of Switzerland , and 40.47 % under France...

. In the new environment, his cocaine use increased; so too did his interest in pursuits outside his musical career. He took up painting, producing a number of post-modernist pieces. When on tour, he took to sketching in a notebook, and photographing scenes for later reference. Visiting galleries in Geneva
Geneva
Geneva In the national languages of Switzerland the city is known as Genf , Ginevra and Genevra is the second-most-populous city in Switzerland and is the most populous city of Romandie, the French-speaking part of Switzerland...

 and the Brücke Museum
Brücke Museum
The Brücke Museum in Berlin houses the world's largest collection of works by Die Brücke , an early 20th century expressionist movement.-Origins:...

 in Berlin, Bowie became, in the words of biographer Christopher Sandford, "a prolific producer and collector of contemporary art. [...] Not only did he become a well-known patron of expressionist art: locked in Clos des Mésanges he began an intensive self-improvement course in classical music and literature, and started work on an autobiography".

Before the end of 1976, Bowie's interest in the burgeoning German music scene, as well as his drug addiction, prompted him to move to West Berlin
West Berlin
West Berlin was a political exclave that existed between 1949 and 1990. It comprised the western regions of Berlin, which were bordered by East Berlin and parts of East Germany. West Berlin consisted of the American, British, and French occupation sectors, which had been established in 1945...

 to clean up and revitalise his career. Working with Brian Eno
Brian Eno
Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno , commonly known as Brian Eno or simply as Eno , is an English musician, composer, record producer, singer and visual artist, known as one of the principal innovators of ambient music.Eno studied at Colchester Institute art school in Essex,...

 while sharing an apartment in Schöneberg
Schöneberg
Schöneberg is a locality of Berlin, Germany. Until Berlin's 2001 administrative reform it was a separate borough including the locality of Friedenau. Together with the former borough of Tempelhof it is now part of the new borough of Tempelhof-Schöneberg....

 with Iggy Pop, he began to focus on minimalist, ambient music for the first of three albums, co-produced with Tony Visconti, that would become known as his Berlin Trilogy
Berlin Trilogy
The Berlin Trilogy is a series of David Bowie albums recorded in collaboration with Brian Eno in the 1970s. The three albums are Low, "Heroes" and Lodger....

. During the same period, Iggy Pop, with Bowie as a co-writer and musician, completed his solo album debut, The Idiot
The Idiot (album)
The Idiot is the debut solo album by American rock singer Iggy Pop. It was the first of two LPs released in 1977 which Pop wrote and recorded in collaboration with David Bowie...

, and its follow-up, Lust for Life
Lust for Life (album)
Lust for Life is a 1977 album by Iggy Pop, his second solo release and his second collaboration with David Bowie, following The Idiot earlier in the year. As well as achieving critical success, it was Pop's most commercially popular album to date, and remains his highest-charting release in the UK...

, touring the UK, Europe, and the US in March and April 1977. Low (1977), partly influenced by the Krautrock
Krautrock
Krautrock is a generic name for the experimental music scenes that appeared in Germany in the late 1960s and gained popularity throughout the 1970s, especially in Britain. The term is a result of the English-speaking world's reception of the music at the time and not a reference to any one...

 sound of Kraftwerk
Kraftwerk
Kraftwerk is an influential electronic music band from Düsseldorf, Germany. The group was formed by Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider in 1970, and was fronted by them until Schneider's departure in 2008...

 and Neu!
Neu!
Neu! was a German band formed by Klaus Dinger and Michael Rother after their split from Kraftwerk in the early 1970s...

, evidenced a move away from narration in Bowie's songwriting to a more abstract musical form in which lyrics were sporadic and optional. It received considerable negative criticism upon its release—a release which RCA, anxious to maintain the established commercial momentum, did not welcome, and which Bowie's ex-manager, Tony Defries, who still maintained a significant financial interest in the singer's affairs, tried to prevent. Despite these forebodings, Low yielded the UK number three single "Sound and Vision
Sound and Vision
"Sound and Vision" is a song and single by David Bowie which appeared on the album Low in 1977.The song is notable for juxtaposing an uplifting guitar and synthesizer-led instrumental track with Bowie’s withdrawn lyrics...

", and its own performance surpassed that of Station to Station in the UK chart, where it reached number two. Leading contemporary composer Philip Glass
Philip Glass
Philip Glass is an American composer. He is considered to be one of the most influential composers of the late 20th century and is widely acknowledged as a composer who has brought art music to the public .His music is often described as minimalist, along with...

 described Low as "a work of genius" in 1992, when he used it as the basis for his Symphony No. 1 "Low"; subsequently, Glass used Bowie's next album as the basis for his 1996 Symphony No. 4 "Heroes". Glass has praised Bowie's gift for creating "fairly complex pieces of music, masquerading as simple pieces".
Echoing Lows minimalist, instrumental approach, the second of the trilogy, "Heroes" (1977), incorporated pop and rock to a greater extent, seeing Bowie joined by guitarist Robert Fripp
Robert Fripp
Robert Fripp is an English guitarist, composer and record producer. He was ranked 42nd on Rolling Stone magazine's 2003 list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time" and #47 on Gibson.com’s "Top 50 Guitarists of All Time". Among rock guitarists, Fripp is a master of crosspicking, a technique...

. Like Low, "Heroes" evinced the zeitgeist
Zeitgeist
Zeitgeist is "the spirit of the times" or "the spirit of the age."Zeitgeist is the general cultural, intellectual, ethical, spiritual or political climate within a nation or even specific groups, along with the general ambiance, morals, sociocultural direction, and mood associated with an era.The...

 of the Cold War, symbolised by the divided city of Berlin. Incorporating ambient sounds from a variety of sources including white noise generators, synthesizers and koto
Koto (musical instrument)
The koto is a traditional Japanese stringed musical instrument, similar to the Chinese guzheng, the Mongolian yatga, the Korean gayageum and the Vietnamese đàn tranh. The koto is the national instrument of Japan. Koto are about length, and made from kiri wood...

, the album was another hit, reaching number three in the UK. Its title track, though only reaching number 24 in the UK singles chart, gained lasting popularity, and within months had been released in both German and French. Towards the end of the year, Bowie performed the song for Marc Bolan's television show Marc, and again two days later for Bing Crosby
Bing Crosby
Harry Lillis "Bing" Crosby was an American singer and actor. Crosby's trademark bass-baritone voice made him one of the best-selling recording artists of the 20th century, with over half a billion records in circulation....

's televised Christmas special, when he joined Crosby in "Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy
Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy
"Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy" is a Christmas song with an added counterpoint performed by David Bowie and Bing Crosby...

", a version of "The Little Drummer Boy" with a new, contrapuntal verse. Five years later, the duet would prove a worldwide seasonal hit, charting in the UK at number three on Christmas Day, 1982.

After completing Low and "Heroes", Bowie spent much of 1978 on the Isolar II world tour, bringing the music of the first two Berlin Trilogy albums to almost a million people during 70 concerts in 12 countries. By now he had broken his drug addiction; biographer David Buckley writes that Isolar II was "Bowie's first tour for five years in which he had probably not anaesthetised himself with copious quantities of cocaine before taking the stage. [...] Without the oblivion that drugs had brought, he was now in a healthy enough mental condition to want to make friends." Recordings from the tour made up the live album Stage, released the same year.

The final piece in what Bowie called his "triptych
Triptych
A triptych , from tri-= "three" + ptysso= "to fold") is a work of art which is divided into three sections, or three carved panels which are hinged together and can be folded shut or displayed open. It is therefore a type of polyptych, the term for all multi-panel works...

", Lodger
Lodger (album)
Lodger is an album by British singer-songwriter David Bowie, released in 1979. The last of the 'Berlin Trilogy' recorded in collaboration with Brian Eno , it was more accessible than its immediate predecessors Low and "Heroes", having no instrumentals and being somewhat lighter and more pop-oriented...

(1979), eschewed the minimalist, ambient nature of the other two, making a partial return to the drum- and guitar-based rock and pop of his pre-Berlin era. The result was a complex mixture of New Wave
New Wave music
New Wave is a subgenre of :rock music that emerged in the mid to late 1970s alongside punk rock. The term at first generally was synonymous with punk rock before being considered a genre in its own right that incorporated aspects of electronic and experimental music, mod subculture, disco and 1960s...

 and World Music
World music
World music is a term with widely varying definitions, often encompassing music which is primarily identified as another genre. This is evidenced by world music definitions such as "all of the music in the world" or "somebody else's local music"...

, in places incorporating Hejaz
Phrygian dominant scale
In music, the altered Phrygian scale or Freygish scale , featuring an unusual key signature and a distinctive augmented second interval, is the fifth mode of the harmonic minor scale, the fifth being the dominant...

 non-Western scales. Some tracks were composed using Eno and Peter Schmidt's Oblique Strategies
Oblique Strategies
Oblique Strategies is a set of published cards created by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt first published in 1975, and is now in its fifth, open ended, edition...

 cards: "Boys Keep Swinging" entailed band members swapping instruments, "Move On" used the chords from Bowie's early composition "All the Young Dudes" played backwards, and "Red Money" took backing tracks from "Sister Midnight", a piece previously composed with Iggy Pop. The album was recorded in Switzerland. Ahead of its release, RCA's Mel Ilberman stated, "It would be fair to call it Bowie's Sergeant Pepper [...] a concept album that portrays the Lodger as a homeless wanderer, shunned and victimized by life's pressures and technology." As described by biographer Christopher Sandford, "The record dashed such high hopes with dubious choices, and production that spelt the end—for fifteen years—of Bowie's partnership with Eno." Lodger reached number 4 in the UK and number 20 in the US, and yielded the UK hit singles "Boys Keep Swinging
Boys Keep Swinging
"Boys Keep Swinging" is a song by English singer-songwriter David Bowie. It was released as a single from the album Lodger on 27 April 1979.-Recording and release:...

" and "DJ
DJ (song)
"DJ" was a single by David Bowie. It was taken from the album Lodger in the UK, being released on June 29, 1979.A cynical comment on the cult of the DJ, the track is noted for Adrian Belew's guitar solo, which was recorded in multiple takes, and then mixed back together for the album track...

". Towards the end of the year, Bowie and Angela initiated divorce proceedings, and after months of court battles the marriage was ended in early 1980.

1980–89: from superstar to megastar



Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)
Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)
Scary Monsters is an album by David Bowie, released in September 1980 by RCA Records. It was Bowie's final studio album for the label and his first following the so-called Berlin Trilogy of Low, "Heroes" and Lodger . Though considered significant in artistic terms, the trilogy had proved less...

(1980) produced the number one hit "Ashes to Ashes
Ashes to Ashes (David Bowie song)
"Ashes to Ashes" is a single by David Bowie, released in 1980. It made #1 in the UK and was the first cut from the Scary Monsters album, also a #1 hit. As well as its musical qualities, it is noted for its innovative video, directed by Bowie and David Mallet...

", featuring the textural work of guitar-synthesist Chuck Hammer
Chuck Hammer
Chuck Hammer is an American guitarist and Emmy nominated digital film composer, known for seminal guitar-synth with Lou Reed, David Bowie, and Guitarchitecture....

 and revisiting the character of Major Tom from "Space Oddity". The song gave international exposure to the underground New Romantic
New Romantic
New Romanticism , was a pop culture movement in the United Kingdom that began around 1979 and peaked around 1981. Developing in London nightclubs such as Billy's and The Blitz and spreading to other major cities in the UK, it was based around flamboyant, eccentric fashion and new wave music...

 movement when Bowie visited the London club "Blitz"—the main New Romantic hangout—to recruit several of the regulars (including Steve Strange
Steve Strange
Steve Strange , is a Welsh pop singer, best known as the lead singer and frontman of the 1980s pop group Visage...

 of the band Visage
Visage
Visage are a British New Wave rock band. Formed in 1978, the band became closely linked to the burgeoning New Romantic fashion movement of the early 1980s, and are best known for their 1980 hit "Fade to Grey".-New Wave years :...

) to act in the accompanying video, renowned as one of the most innovative of all time. While Scary Monsters utilised principles established by the Berlin albums, it was considered by critics to be far more direct musically and lyrically. The album's hard rock edge included conspicuous guitar contributions from Robert Fripp
Robert Fripp
Robert Fripp is an English guitarist, composer and record producer. He was ranked 42nd on Rolling Stone magazine's 2003 list of the "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time" and #47 on Gibson.com’s "Top 50 Guitarists of All Time". Among rock guitarists, Fripp is a master of crosspicking, a technique...

, Pete Townshend
Pete Townshend
Peter Dennis Blandford "Pete" Townshend is an English rock guitarist, vocalist, songwriter and author, known principally as the guitarist and songwriter for the rock group The Who, as well as for his own solo career...

, Chuck Hammer
Chuck Hammer
Chuck Hammer is an American guitarist and Emmy nominated digital film composer, known for seminal guitar-synth with Lou Reed, David Bowie, and Guitarchitecture....

 and Tom Verlaine
Tom Verlaine
Tom Verlaine is a singer, songwriter and guitarist, best known as the frontman for the New York rock band Television.-Biography:...

. As "Ashes to Ashes" hit number one on the UK charts, Bowie opened a three-month run on Broadway on 24 September, starring in The Elephant Man
The Elephant Man (play)
The Elephant Man is a 1977 play by Bernard Pomerance. The production's Broadway debut in 1979 was produced by Richmond Crinkley and Nelle Nugent, and directed by Jack Hofsiss...

.

Bowie paired with Queen
Queen (band)
Queen are a British rock band formed in London in 1971, originally consisting of Freddie Mercury , Brian May , John Deacon , and Roger Taylor...

 in 1981 for a one-off single release, "Under Pressure
Under Pressure
"Under Pressure" is a 1981 song recorded by Queen and David Bowie. It marked Bowie's first released collaboration with another recording artist as a performer, and is featured on Queen's 1982 album Hot Space. The song reached #1 on the UK Singles Chart. It was also number 31 on VH1's 100 Greatest...

". The duet was a hit, becoming Bowie's third UK number one single. The same year, he made a cameo appearance in the German film Christiane F.
Christiane F. - Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo (film)
Christiane F. - Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo is a 1981 film that portrays the drug scene in West Berlin in the 1970s, based on the novel of the same name written following tape recordings of Christiane F.-Synopsis:...

, a real-life story of teenage drug addiction in 1970s Berlin. The soundtrack, in which Bowie's music featured prominently, was released as Christiane F.
Christiane F. (album)
Christiane F. - Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo is a soundtrack album by David Bowie, released on LP in 1981 by RCA Victor , for the movie about Christiane F...

a few months later. Bowie was given the lead role in the BBC's 1981 televised adaptation of Bertolt Brecht
Bertolt Brecht
Bertolt Brecht was a German poet, playwright, and theatre director.An influential theatre practitioner of the 20th century, Brecht made equally significant contributions to dramaturgy and theatrical production, the latter particularly through the seismic impact of the tours undertaken by the...

's play Baal
Baal (play)
Baal was the first full-length play written by the German modernist playwright Bertolt Brecht. It concerns a wastrel youth who becomes involved in several sexual affairs and at least one murder...

. Coinciding with its transmission, a five-track EP
Extended play
An EP is a musical recording which contains more music than a single, but is too short to qualify as a full album or LP. The term EP originally referred only to specific types of vinyl records other than 78 rpm standard play records and LP records, but it is now applied to mid-length Compact...

 of songs from the play, recorded earlier in Berlin, was released as David Bowie in Bertolt Brecht's Baal
Baal (EP)
Baal is an EP by David Bowie, comprising recordings of songs written for Bertolt Brecht’s play Baal. It is sometimes referred to as David Bowie in Bertolt Brecht’s Baal, as credited on the sleeve....

. In March 1982, the month before Paul Schrader
Paul Schrader
Paul Joseph Schrader is an American screenwriter, film director, and former film critic. Apart from his credentials as a director, Schrader is most notably known for his screenplays for Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver and Raging Bull....

's film Cat People
Cat People (1982 film)
Cat People is a 1982 American erotic horror film directed by Paul Schrader and starring Nastassja Kinski, Malcolm McDowell and John Heard. The film co-stars Annette O'Toole, Ruby Dee, Ed Begley, Jr. and John Larroquette. Jerry Bruckheimer served as executive producer...

came out, Bowie's title song, "Cat People (Putting Out Fire)
Cat People (Putting Out Fire)
"Cat People " is a song by David Bowie, the title song of the 1982 film Cat People. It was written by Bowie with producer Giorgio Moroder. A re-recorded version of the song appears on the album Let's Dance...

", was released as a single, becoming a minor US hit and entering the UK top 30.

Bowie reached a new peak of popularity and commercial success in 1983 with Let's Dance. Co-produced by Chic
Chic (band)
Chic was an African American disco and R&B band that was organized during 1976 by guitarist Nile Rodgers and bassist Bernard Edwards. It is known best for its commercially successful disco songs, including "Dance, Dance, Dance " , "Everybody Dance" , "Le Freak" , "I Want Your Love" , "Good Times"...

's Nile Rodgers
Nile Rodgers
Nile Gregory Rodgers is an American musician, producer, composer, arranger, and guitarist.-Biography:...

, the album went platinum in both the UK and the US. Its three singles became top twenty hits in both countries, where its title track
Let's Dance (David Bowie song)
"Let's Dance" is the title album track on David Bowie's album Let's Dance. It was also released as the first single from that album in 1983, and went on to become one of his biggest-selling tracks....

 reached number one. "Modern Love
Modern Love (song)
"Modern Love" is a song written and recorded by David Bowie, and the first track on his album Let's Dance. It was issued as the third single from the album in 1983....

" and "China Girl
China Girl (song)
"China Girl" is a song co-written by David Bowie and Iggy Pop during their years in Berlin, first appearing on Pop's album The Idiot...

" made number two in the UK, accompanied by a pair of acclaimed promotional videos that, as described by biographer David Buckley, "were totally absorbing and activated key archetypes in the pop world. 'Let's Dance', with its little narrative surrounding the young Aborigine
Australian Aborigines
Australian Aborigines , also called Aboriginal Australians, from the latin ab originem , are people who are indigenous to most of the Australian continentthat is, to mainland Australia and the island of Tasmania...

 couple, targeted 'youth', and 'China Girl', with its bare-bummed (and later partially-censored) beach lovemaking scene (a homage to the film From Here to Eternity
From Here to Eternity
From Here to Eternity is a 1953 drama film directed by Fred Zinnemann and based on the novel of the same name by James Jones. It deals with the troubles of soldiers, played by Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Frank Sinatra and Ernest Borgnine stationed on Hawaii in the months leading up to the...

), was sufficiently sexually provocative to guarantee heavy rotation on MTV. By 1983, Bowie had emerged as one of the most important video artists of the day. Let's Dance was followed by the Serious Moonlight Tour
Serious Moonlight Tour
The David Bowie Serious Moonlight Tour was thus far Bowie's longest, largest and most successful concert tour. The tour opened at the Vorst Forest Nationaal - Brussels on 18 May 1983 and ended in the Hong Kong Coliseum on 8 December 1983; 16 countries visited, 96 performances, 2,601,196 tickets...

, during which Bowie was accompanied by guitarist Earl Slick
Earl Slick
Earl Slick is a guitarist best known for his collaborations with David Bowie, Jim Diamond and Robert Smith, although he has also worked with other artists , John Waite, and even released some solo recordings.In the early 1970s, Earl Slick gained his...

 and backing vocalists Frank and George Simms
The Simms Brothers Band
-Early years:The Simms Brothers Band is a rock/jazz/R&B group formed in early 1974 in southwestern Connecticut. The group began as a trio; Frank and George Simms, and Dave Spinner, composed their harmonies set to an acoustic guitar and played local coffee houses...

. The world tour lasted six months and was extremely popular.


Tonight (1984), another dance-oriented album, found Bowie collaborating with Tina Turner
Tina Turner
Tina Turner is an American singer and actress whose career has spanned more than 50 years. She has won numerous awards and her achievements in the rock music genre have led many to call her the "Queen of Rock 'n' Roll".Turner started out her music career with husband Ike Turner as a member of the...

 and, once again, Iggy Pop. It included a number of cover songs, among them the 1966 Beach Boys
The Beach Boys
The Beach Boys are an American rock band, formed in 1961 in Hawthorne, California. The group was initially composed of brothers Brian, Dennis and Carl Wilson, their cousin Mike Love, and friend Al Jardine. Managed by the Wilsons' father Murry, The Beach Boys signed to Capitol Records in 1962...

 hit "God Only Knows
God Only Knows
"God Only Knows" is a song by American rock band The Beach Boys. It is the eighth track on the group's 11th studio album, Pet Sounds , and one of their most widely recognized songs. "God Only Knows" was composed and produced by Brian Wilson with lyrics by Tony Asher and lead vocal by Carl...

". The album bore the transatlantic top ten hit "Blue Jean", itself the inspiration for a short film that won Bowie a Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video
Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video
The Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video is an honor presented at the Grammy Awards, a ceremony that was established in 1958 and originally called the Gramophone Awards, to performers, directors, and producers of quality short form music videos...

, "Jazzin' for Blue Jean
Jazzin' for Blue Jean
Jazzin' for Blue Jean is a 20-minute short film featuring David Bowie and directed by Julien Temple. It was created to promote Bowie's single "Blue Jean" in 1984 and released as a video single.-Plot:...

". Bowie performed at Wembley in 1985 for Live Aid
Live Aid
Live Aid was a dual-venue concert that was held on 13 July 1985. The event was organized by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure to raise funds for relief of the ongoing Ethiopian famine. Billed as the "global jukebox", the event was held simultaneously in Wembley Stadium in London, England, United Kingdom ...

, a multi-venue benefit concert for Ethiopian famine relief. During the event, the video for a fundraising single was premièred, Bowie's duet with Mick Jagger. "Dancing in the Street" quickly went to number one on release. The same year, Bowie worked with the Pat Metheny Group
Pat Metheny Group
The Pat Metheny Group is a jazz group founded in 1977. The core members of the group are guitarist and bandleader Pat Metheny, composer, keyboardist and pianist Lyle Mays , and bassist and producer Steve Rodby...

 to record "This Is Not America
This Is Not America
"This Is Not America" is a song from the soundtrack for the film The Falcon and the Snowman.The track is the result of a collaboration between the jazz fusion Pat Metheny Group and rock singer David Bowie who provided the lyrics and vocals....

" for the soundtrack of The Falcon and the Snowman
The Falcon and the Snowman
The Falcon and the Snowman is a 1985 film directed by John Schlesinger about two young American men, Christopher Boyce and Daulton Lee , who sold U.S. security secrets to the Soviet Union...

. Released as a single, the song became a top 40 hit in the UK and US.

Bowie was given a role in the 1986 film Absolute Beginners
Absolute Beginners (film)
Absolute Beginners is a 1986 British rock musical film adapted from the Colin MacInnes book of the same name about life in late 1950s London. The film was directed by Julien Temple, featured David Bowie and Sade, and a breakout role by Patsy Kensit...

. It was poorly received by critics, but Bowie's theme song rose to number two in the UK charts. He also appeared as Jareth
Jareth
Jareth, the Goblin King is a fictional character in the 1986 fantasy movie Labyrinth. Jareth is a powerful, mysterious creature who has an antagonistic yet strangely flirtatious relationship with Sarah , the film's teenage heroine...

, the Goblin King, in the 1986 Jim Henson
Jim Henson
James Maury "Jim" Henson was an American puppeteer best known as the creator of The Muppets. As a puppeteer, Henson performed in various television programs, such as Sesame Street and The Muppet Show, films such as The Muppet Movie and The Great Muppet Caper, and created advanced puppets for...

 film Labyrinth
Labyrinth (film)
Labyrinth is a 1986 British/American fantasy film directed by Jim Henson, produced by George Lucas, and designed by Brian Froud. Henson collaborated on the screenwriting with children's author Dennis Lee, Terry Jones from Monty Python, and Elaine May .The film stars David Bowie as Jareth the Goblin...

, for which he wrote five songs. His final solo album of the decade was 1987's Never Let Me Down
Never Let Me Down
Never Let Me Down is an album by David Bowie, released in April 1987. Written over a 3-month period and recorded in Switzerland, Bowie regarded the album at the time as a "move back to rock 'n roll music...

, where he ditched the light sound of his previous two albums, instead offering harder rock with an industrial
Industrial music
Industrial music is a style of experimental music that draws on transgressive and provocative themes. The term was coined in the mid-1970s with the founding of Industrial Records by the band Throbbing Gristle, and the creation of the slogan "industrial music for industrial people". In general, the...

/techno
Techno
Techno is a form of electronic dance music that emerged in Detroit, Michigan in the United States during the mid to late 1980s. The first recorded use of the word techno, in reference to a genre of music, was in 1988...

 dance edge. Peaking at number six in the UK, the album yielded the hits "Day-In, Day-Out
Day-In Day-Out
"Day-In Day-Out" is the first track on David Bowie's album Never Let Me Down. It was issued as a single ahead of the album's release.The song criticised the urban decay and deprivation in American cities at the time, concerned largely with the depths a young mother has to sink to in order to feed...

" (his 60th single), "Time Will Crawl
Time Will Crawl
"Time Will Crawl" is the second track on David Bowie's album Never Let Me Down and was issued as the second single from the album.The lyric is themed around the pollution and destruction of the planet by industry , and is often praised by critics for its restrained production compared to...

", and "Never Let Me Down
Never Let Me Down (song)
"Never Let Me Down" is the title track on David Bowie's album Never Let Me Down. It was issued as the third single from the album in August 1987 – it would be Bowie's last solo single until 1992's "Real Cool World", barring a remix of "Fame"....

". Bowie later described it as his "nadir", calling it "an awful album". Supporting Never Let Me Down, and preceded by nine promotional press shows, the 86-concert Glass Spider Tour
Glass Spider Tour
In 1987, David Bowie embarked on The Glass Spider Tour in support of the album Never Let Me Down alongside famed guitarist Peter Frampton. The tour was named after the album track "Glass Spider." The concert tour was the most ambitious by Bowie up to that date, surpassing the Serious Moonlight Tour...

 commenced on 30 May. Bowie's backing band included Peter Frampton
Peter Frampton
Peter Kenneth Frampton is an English musician, singer, producer, guitarist and multi-instrumentalist. He was previously associated with the bands Humble Pie and The Herd. Frampton's international breakthrough album was his live release, Frampton Comes Alive!. The album sold over 6 million copies...

 on lead guitar. Critics maligned the tour as overproduced, saying it pandered to the current stadium rock
Arena rock
Arena rock is a term used to describe rock music that utilised large arena venues, particularly sports venues, for concerts or series of concerts linked in tours...

 trends in its special effects and dancing.

1989–91: Tin Machine


Bowie shelved his solo career in 1989, retreating to the relative anonymity of band membership for the first time since the early 1970s. A hard-rocking quartet, Tin Machine
Tin Machine
Tin Machine was a hard rock band formed in 1988, famous for being fronted by singer David Bowie. The group recorded two studio albums before dissolving in 1992, when Bowie returned to his solo career...

 came into being after Bowie began to work experimentally with guitarist Reeves Gabrels
Reeves Gabrels
Reeves Gabrels is an American guitarist, known for virtuosity, versatility, and originality. His compositions and improvisations defy genre and "explore sonic extremes with a great, adaptive intuition for what each song needs most."...

. The line-up was completed by Tony
Tony Sales
|Tony Fox Sales is an American rock musician. A bass guitarist, Sales and his brother, Hunt Sales, played with Todd Rundgren, Iggy Pop and Tin Machine with David Bowie.-Early life and career:...

 and Hunt Sales
Hunt Sales
Hunt Sales is an American rock and roll drummer who has played with Todd Rundgren, his brother Tony Sales, Iggy Pop and Tin Machine.- Personal life : Hunt Sales is the son of 1950s/60s television comedian Soupy Sales...

, whom Bowie had known since the late 1970s for their contribution, on drums and bass respectively, to Iggy Pop's 1977 album Lust For Life.


Though he intended Tin Machine to operate as a democracy, Bowie dominated, both in songwriting and in decision-making. The band's album debut, Tin Machine
Tin Machine (album)
Tin Machine is the debut album of Tin Machine originally released by EMI in 1989. The group was the latest venture of David Bowie, inspired by sessions with guitarist Reeves Gabrels...

(1989), was initially popular, though its politicised lyrics did not find universal approval: Bowie described one song as "a simplistic, naive, radical, laying-it-down about the emergence of neo-Nazis"; in the view of biographer Christopher Sandford, "It took nerve to denounce drugs, fascism and TV [...] in terms that reached the literary level of a comic book." EMI complained of "lyrics that preach" as well as "repetitive tunes" and "minimalist or no production". The album nevertheless reached number three in the UK. Tin Machine's first world tour was a commercial success, but there was growing reluctance—among fans and critics alike—to accept Bowie's presentation as merely a band member. A series of Tin Machine singles failed to chart, and Bowie, after a disagreement with EMI, left the label. Like his audience and his critics, Bowie himself became increasingly disaffected with his role as just one member of a band. Tin Machine began work on a second album, but Bowie put the venture on hold and made a return to solo work. Performing his early hits during the seven-month Sound+Vision Tour, he found commercial success and acclaim once again.

In October 1990, a decade after his divorce from Angela, Bowie and Somali
Somali people
Somalis are an ethnic group located in the Horn of Africa, also known as the Somali Peninsula. The overwhelming majority of Somalis speak the Somali language, which is part of the Cushitic branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family...

-born supermodel Iman
Iman (model)
Iman Mohamed Abdulmajid , professionally known as Iman , is a Somali-American fashion model, actress and entrepreneur. A pioneer in the field of ethnic cosmetics, she is also noted for her charitable work. She is married to David Bowie.-Early life:Born in Mogadishu, Somalia, Iman is the daughter...

 were introduced by a mutual friend. Bowie recalled, "I was naming the children the night we met ... it was absolutely immediate." They would marry in 1992. Tin Machine resumed work the same month, but their audience and critics, ultimately left disappointed by the first album, showed little interest in a second. Tin Machine II
Tin Machine II
Tin Machine II is an album by Tin Machine, originally released by Victory Music in 1991.-Recording:The band reconvened following their 1989 tour, recording most of the album before taking a rest while David Bowie conducted his solo Sound+Vision Tour and filmed The Linguini Incident...

s arrival was marked by a widely publicised and ill-timed conflict over the cover art: after production had begun, the new record label, Victory, deemed the depiction of four ancient nude Kouroi
Kouros
A kouros is the modern term given to those representations of male youths which first appear in the Archaic period in Greece. The term kouros, meaning youth, was first proposed for what were previously thought to be depictions of Apollo by V. I...

 statues, judged by Bowie to be "in exquisite taste", "a show of wrong, obscene images", requiring air-brushing and patching to render the figures sexless. Tin Machine toured again, but after the live album Tin Machine Live: Oy Vey, Baby
Tin Machine Live: Oy Vey, Baby
Tin Machine Live: Oy Vey, Baby is a live album by Tin Machine originally released by London Records in 1992. It was to be the group's last release, and was recorded on the 1991–1992 It's My Life Tour. The title, suggested by Hunt Sales, was intended as a play on U2's album Achtung Baby.The album...

failed commercially, the band drifted apart, and Bowie, though he continued to collaborate with Gabrels, resumed his solo career.

1992–99: electronica



In April 1992 Bowie appeared at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, following the Queen frontman's death the previous year. As well as performing "Heroes" and "All the Young Dudes", he was joined on "Under Pressure" by Annie Lennox
Annie Lennox
Annie Lennox, OBE , born Ann Lennox, is a Scottish singer-songwriter, political activist and philanthropist. After achieving minor success in the late 1970s with The Tourists, with fellow musician David A...

, who took Mercury's vocal part. Four days later, Bowie and Iman were married in Switzerland. Intending to move to Los Angeles, they flew in to search for a suitable property, but found themselves confined to their hotel, under curfew: the 1992 Los Angeles riots
1992 Los Angeles riots
The 1992 Los Angeles Riots or South Central Riots, also known as the 1992 Los Angeles Civil Unrest were sparked on April 29, 1992, when a jury acquitted three white and one hispanic Los Angeles Police Department officers accused in the videotaped beating of black motorist Rodney King following a...

 began the day they arrived. They settled in New York instead.

1993 saw the release of Bowie's first solo offering since his Tin Machine departure, the soul, jazz and hip-hop
Hip hop music
Hip hop music, also called hip-hop, rap music or hip-hop music, is a musical genre consisting of a stylized rhythmic music that commonly accompanies rapping, a rhythmic and rhyming speech that is chanted...

 influenced Black Tie White Noise
Black Tie White Noise
Black Tie White Noise is an album by David Bowie. Released in 1993, it was his first solo release in the 1990s after spending time with his hard rock band Tin Machine, retiring his old hits on his Sound+Vision Tour, and marrying supermodel Iman Abdulmajid. This album featured his old guitarist from...

. Making prominent use of electronic instruments, the album, which reunited Bowie with Let's Dance producer Nile Rodgers
Nile Rodgers
Nile Gregory Rodgers is an American musician, producer, composer, arranger, and guitarist.-Biography:...

, confirmed Bowie's return to popularity, hitting the number one spot on the UK charts and spawning three top 40 hits, including the top 10 song "Jump They Say
Jump They Say
"Jump They Say" is a song by David Bowie from his album Black Tie White Noise. It was released as a first single from the album in March 1993....

". Bowie explored new directions on The Buddha of Suburbia
The Buddha of Suburbia (soundtrack)
The Buddha of Suburbia is a 1993 soundtrack album by David Bowie which accompanied the 4-part television serial The Buddha of Suburbia on BBC2 ....

(1993), a soundtrack album of incidental music composed for the TV series adaptation of Hanif Kureishi's novel. It contained some of the new elements introduced in Black Tie White Noise, and also signalled a move towards alternative rock
Alternative rock
Alternative rock is a genre of rock music and a term used to describe a diverse musical movement that emerged from the independent music underground of the 1980s and became widely popular by the 1990s...

. The album was a critical success but received a low-key release and only made number 87 in the UK charts.

Reuniting Bowie with Eno, the quasi-industrial
Industrial music
Industrial music is a style of experimental music that draws on transgressive and provocative themes. The term was coined in the mid-1970s with the founding of Industrial Records by the band Throbbing Gristle, and the creation of the slogan "industrial music for industrial people". In general, the...

 Outside (1995) was originally conceived as the first volume in a non-linear narrative of art and murder. Featuring characters from a short story written by Bowie, the album achieved US and UK chart success, and yielded three top 40 UK singles. In a move that provoked mixed reaction from both fans and critics, Bowie chose Nine Inch Nails
Nine Inch Nails
Nine Inch Nails is an American industrial rock project, founded in 1988 by Trent Reznor in Cleveland, Ohio. As its main producer, singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist, Reznor is the only official member of Nine Inch Nails and remains solely responsible for its direction...

 as his tour partner for the Outside Tour
Outside Tour
The Outside Tour, with David Bowie and Nine Inch Nails co-headlining, opened on 14 September 1995 at Meadows Music Theatre - Hartford, CT with Prick as support band. On selected dates Reeves Gabrels performed songs from his album, The Sacred Squall of Now in addition to performing with Nine Inch...

. Visiting cities in Europe and North America between September 1995 and February the following year, the tour saw the return of Gabrels as Bowie's guitarist.

Bowie was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is a museum located on the shore of Lake Erie in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, United States. It is dedicated to archiving the history of some of the best-known and most influential artists, producers, engineers and others who have, in some major way,...

 on 17 January 1996. Incorporating experiments in British jungle and drum 'n' bass
Drum and bass
Drum and bass is a type of electronic music which emerged in the late 1980s. The genre is characterized by fast breakbeats , with heavy bass and sub-bass lines...

, Earthling
Earthling (album)
Earthling is an album by David Bowie released in February 1997 via BMG. The album showcases an electronica-influenced sound partly inspired by the Industrial and drum and bass culture of the 1990s.-Album background and development:...

(1997) was a critical and commercial success in the UK and the US, and two singles from the album became UK top 40 hits. Bowie's song "I'm Afraid of Americans
I'm Afraid of Americans
"I'm Afraid of Americans" is a song and single by David Bowie from the 1997 album Earthling. The song, co-written by Bowie and Brian Eno, was originally written during Bowie's studio sessions for the 1995 album Outside but was not released until a rough mix appeared on the soundtrack to the film...

" from the Paul Verhoeven film Showgirls
Showgirls
Showgirls is a 1995 American drama film directed by Paul Verhoeven and starring former teen actress Elizabeth Berkley, Kyle MacLachlan, and Gina Gershon...

was re-recorded for the album, and remixed by Trent Reznor
Trent Reznor
Michael Trent Reznor is an American multi-instrumentalist, composer, record producer, and leader of industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails. Reznor is also a member of How to Destroy Angels alongside his wife, Mariqueen Maandig, and Atticus Ross. He was previously associated with bands Option 30,...

 for a single release. The heavy rotation of the accompanying video, also featuring Reznor, contributed to the song's 16-week stay in the US Billboard Hot 100
Billboard Hot 100
The Billboard Hot 100 is the United States music industry standard singles popularity chart issued weekly by Billboard magazine. Chart rankings are based on radio play and sales; the tracking-week for sales begins on Monday and ends on Sunday, while the radio play tracking-week runs from Wednesday...

. The Earthling Tour
Earthling Tour
The David Bowie Earthling Tour opened on 7 June 1997 at Flughafen Blankense - Lübeck, Germany continuing through Europe, North America before reaching a conclusion in Buenos Aires, Argentina on 7 November 1997.-History:...

 took in Europe and North America between June and November 1997. Bowie reunited with Visconti in 1998 to record "(Safe in This) Sky Life" for The Rugrats Movie
The Rugrats Movie
The Rugrats Movie is a 1998 American animated film, produced by Klasky Csupo and Nickelodeon Movies. The film was distributed by Paramount Pictures and first released in theaters in the United States on November 20, 1998....

. Although the track was edited out of the final cut, it would later be re-recorded and released as "Safe" on the B-side of Bowie's 2002 single "Everyone Says 'Hi'
Everyone Says 'Hi'
"Everyone Says 'Hi" is a song written by David Bowie for the album Heathen , the only single from the album that was available to purchase in the United Kingdom. The single reached #20 in the UK singles chart. It was produced by British duo Brian Rawling and Gary Miller, with vocals produced by...

". The reunion led to other collaborations including a limited-edition single release version of Placebo's
Placebo (band)
Placebo are a British rock band from London, England, formed in 1994 by singer and guitarist Brian Molko and bass guitarist Stefan Olsdal. The band was joined by drummer Robert Schultzberg, who was later replaced by Steve Hewitt after conflicts with Molko. Hewitt left the band in October 2007 and...

 track "Without You I'm Nothing
Without You I'm Nothing (Placebo song)
"Without You I'm Nothing" is a single by British alternative rock band Placebo. The title track of their second album, the single version featured additional vocals by David Bowie...

", co-produced by Visconti, with Bowie's harmonised vocal added to the original recording.

1999–present: Neoclassicist Bowie



Bowie created the soundtrack for Omikron
Omikron: The Nomad Soul
Omikron: The Nomad Soul is a Microsoft Windows and Dreamcast 3D adventure game developed by French developer Quantic Dream and published in 1999 by Eidos Interactive. It was released on October 31, 1999 for PC and on June 21, 2000 for Dreamcast...

, a 1999 computer game in which he and Iman also appeared as characters. Released the same year and containing re-recorded tracks from Omikron, his album 'Hours...'
'Hours...'
'Hours...' is a 1999 album by British musician David Bowie. It was released on Virgin Records. This was Bowie's final album for the EMI sub-label....

featured a song with lyrics by the winner of his "Cyber Song Contest" Internet competition, Alex Grant. Making extensive use of live instruments, the album was Bowie's exit from heavy electronica. Sessions for the planned album Toy
Toy (David Bowie album)
Toy is an album by the British rock musician David Bowie, recorded for release in 2001, and leaked onto the Internet in 2011. Although Bowie had begun recording the album intended to feature new versions of some of his earliest pieces as well as three new songs, its sessions led him to Heathen and...

, intended to feature new versions of some of Bowie's earliest pieces as well as three new songs, commenced in 2000, but the album was never released. Bowie and Visconti continued their collaboration, producing a new album of completely original songs instead: the result of the sessions was the 2002 album Heathen. Alexandria Zahra Jones, Bowie and Iman's daughter, was born on 15 August.

In October 2001, Bowie opened The Concert for New York City
The Concert for New York City
The Concert for New York City was a benefit concert, featuring many famous musicians, that took place on October 20, 2001 at Madison Square Garden in New York City in response to the September 11, 2001 attacks...

, a charity event to benefit the victims of the September 11 attacks, with a minimalist performance of Simon & Garfunkel's "America", followed by a full band performance of "Heroes". 2002 saw the release of Heathen, and, during the second half of the year, the Heathen Tour
Heathen Tour
The David Bowie Heathen Tour was a 2002 concert tour in support of the album, Heathen, and was also notable for the performances of all songs from the 1977 Low album.-History:...

. Taking in Europe and North America, the tour opened at London's annual Meltdown
Meltdown (festival)
Meltdown is an annual, English festival, held in London, featuring a mix of music, art, performance and film. Meltdown is held in June at Southbank Centre, the arts complex covering and including the Royal Festival Hall, the Queen Elizabeth Hall and The Hayward...

festival, for which Bowie was that year appointed artistic director. Among the acts he selected for the festival were Philip Glass
Philip Glass
Philip Glass is an American composer. He is considered to be one of the most influential composers of the late 20th century and is widely acknowledged as a composer who has brought art music to the public .His music is often described as minimalist, along with...

, Television
Television (band)
Television was an American rock band, formed in New York City in 1973. They are best known for the album Marquee Moon and widely regarded as one of the founders of "punk" and New Wave music. Television was part of the early 1970s New York underground rock scene, along with bands like the Patti...

 and The Polyphonic Spree
The Polyphonic Spree
The Polyphonic Spree is a choral symphonic pop rock band from Dallas, Texas that was formed in 2000 by Tim DeLaughter. The band's sound relies on a variety of vocal and instrumental color by featuring a choir, flute, trumpet, trombone, violin, viola, cello, percussion, piano, guitars, bass, drums,...

. As well as songs from the new album, the tour featured material from Bowie's Low era. Reality (2003) followed, and its accompanying world tour, the A Reality Tour
A Reality Tour
A Reality Tour was a worldwide concert tour by David Bowie in support of the Reality album. The tour commenced on 7 October 2003 at the Forum, Copenhagen, Denmark continuing through Europe, North America, Asia, including a return to New Zealand and Australia for the first time since the 1987 Glass...

, with an estimated attendance of 722,000, grossed more than any other in 2004. Onstage in Oslo, Norway, on 18 June, Bowie was hit in the eye with a lollipop thrown by a fan; a week later he suffered chest pain while performing at the Hurricane Festival
Hurricane Festival
The Hurricane Festival, also just Hurricane, is a music festival that takes place in Scheeßel near Bremen, Germany, usually every June. It is promoted by German private music television channel VIVA, which belongs to Viacom, the MTV Network's parent company, as of 2004...

 in Scheeßel
Scheeßel
Scheeßel is a municipality in the district of Rotenburg, in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is situated on the river Wümme, approx. 10 km northeast of Rotenburg, 45 km east of Bremen, and 70 km southwest of Hamburg....

, Germany. Originally thought to be a pinched nerve in his shoulder, the pain was later diagnosed as an acutely blocked artery, requiring an emergency angioplasty
Angioplasty
Angioplasty is the technique of mechanically widening a narrowed or obstructed blood vessel, the latter typically being a result of atherosclerosis. An empty and collapsed balloon on a guide wire, known as a balloon catheter, is passed into the narrowed locations and then inflated to a fixed size...

 in Hamburg. The remaining 14 dates of the tour were cancelled.


Since recuperating from the heart surgery, Bowie has reduced his musical output, making only one-off appearances on stage and in the studio. He sang in a duet of his 1972 song "Changes
Changes (David Bowie song)
"Changes" is a song by David Bowie, originally released on the album Hunky Dory in December 1971 and as a single in January 1972. Despite missing the Top 40, "Changes" became one of Bowie's best-known songs. The lyrics are often seen as a manifesto for his chameleonic personality, sexual ambiguity,...

" with Butterfly Boucher
Butterfly Boucher
Butterfly Boucher is an Australian singer-songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. She has released two albums, Flutterby and Scary Fragile .-Biography:...

 for the 2004 animated film Shrek 2
Shrek 2
Shrek 2 is a 2004 American computer-animated fantasy comedy film, produced by DreamWorks Animation and directed by Andrew Adamson, Kelly Asbury and Conrad Vernon. It is the second installment in the Shrek film series and the sequel to 2001's Shrek...

. During a relatively quiet 2005, he recorded the vocals for the song "(She Can) Do That", co-written with Brian Transeau, for the film Stealth
Stealth (film)
Stealth is a 2005 American science fiction action film starring Jessica Biel, Josh Lucas, Jamie Foxx, and Sam Shepard. The film was directed by Rob Cohen, director of The Fast and the Furious and xXx....

. He returned to the stage on 8 September 2005, appearing with Arcade Fire for the US nationally televised event Fashion Rocks, and performed with the Canadian band for the second time a week later during the CMJ Music Marathon. He contributed back-up vocals on TV on the Radio
TV on the Radio
TV on the Radio is an American art rock band formed in 2001 in Brooklyn, New York, whose music spans numerous diverse genres, from post-punk to electro and free jazz to soul music....

's song "Province" for their album Return to Cookie Mountain, made a commercial with Snoop Dogg
Snoop Dogg
Calvin Cordozar Broadus, Jr. , better known by his stage name Snoop Dogg, is an American rapper, record producer, and actor. Snoop is best known as a rapper in the West Coast hip hop scene, and for being one of Dr. Dre's most notable protégés. Snoop Dogg was a Crip gang member while in high school...

 for XM Satellite Radio
XM Satellite Radio
XM Satellite Radio is one of two satellite radio services in the United States and Canada, operated by Sirius XM Radio. It provides pay-for-service radio, analogous to cable television. Its service includes 73 different music channels, 39 news, sports, talk and entertainment channels, 21 regional...

, and joined with Lou Reed on Danish alt-rockers Kashmir's
Kashmir (band)
Kashmir is a Danish alternative rock band consisting of Kasper Eistrup ; Mads Tunebjerg ; Asger Techau and Henrik Lindstrand .-History:...

 2005 album No Balance Palace
No Balance Palace
No Balance Palace is the fifth album by the Danish band Kashmir. It was released on October 10, 2005. The album features David Bowie on "The Cynic" and Lou Reed on "Black Building", and was produced by Tony Visconti...

.

Bowie was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award
Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award
The Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award is awarded by the Recording Academy to "performers who, during their lifetimes, have made creative contributions of outstanding artistic significance to the field of recording."...

 on 8 February 2006. In April, he announced, "I’m taking a year off—no touring, no albums." He made a surprise guest appearance at David Gilmour
David Gilmour
David Jon Gilmour, CBE, D.M. is an English rock musician and multi-instrumentalist who is best known as the guitarist, one of the lead singers and main songwriters in the progressive rock band Pink Floyd. In addition to his work with Pink Floyd, Gilmour has worked as a producer for a variety of...

's 29 May concert at the Royal Albert Hall
Royal Albert Hall
The Royal Albert Hall is a concert hall situated on the northern edge of the South Kensington area, in the City of Westminster, London, England, best known for holding the annual summer Proms concerts since 1941....

 in London. The event was recorded, and a selection of songs on which he had contributed joint vocals were subsequently released. He performed again in November, alongside Alicia Keys
Alicia Keys
Alicia Augello Cook , better known by her stage name Alicia Keys, is an American singer-songwriter, record producer, and occasional actress. She was raised by a single mother in the Hell's Kitchen area of Manhattan in New York City. At age seven, Keys began playing the piano...

, at the Black Ball, a New York benefit event for Keep a Child Alive
Keep A Child Alive
Keep a Child Alive provides first class AIDS care, treatment, surrounding support and food for children and families affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa and India.-Background:...

.

Bowie was chosen to curate the 2007 High Line Festival, selecting musicians and artists for the Manhattan
Manhattan
Manhattan is the oldest and the most densely populated of the five boroughs of New York City. Located primarily on the island of Manhattan at the mouth of the Hudson River, the boundaries of the borough are identical to those of New York County, an original county of the state of New York...

 event, and performed on Scarlett Johansson
Scarlett Johansson
Scarlett Johansson is an American actress, model and singer.Johansson made her film debut in North and was later nominated for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead for her performance in Manny & Lo . She rose to further prominence with her roles in The Horse Whisperer and Ghost World...

's 2008 album of Tom Waits
Tom Waits
Thomas Alan "Tom" Waits is an American singer-songwriter, composer, and actor. Waits has a distinctive voice, described by critic Daniel Durchholz as sounding "like it was soaked in a vat of bourbon, left hanging in the smokehouse for a few months, and then taken outside and run over with a car."...

 covers, Anywhere I Lay My Head
Anywhere I Lay My Head
Anywhere I Lay My Head is the debut studio album by actress Scarlett Johansson, released through Atco Records on May 20, 2008. Dave Sitek produced the album, and David Bowie contributed to two tracks, "Falling Down" and "Fannin Street."...

. On the 40th anniversary of the July 1969 moon landing—and Bowie's accompanying commercial breakthrough with "Space Oddity"—EMI released the individual tracks from the original eight-track studio recording of the song, in a 2009 contest inviting members of the public to create a remix. A Reality Tour
A Reality Tour (album)
A Reality Tour is a live album by David Bowie that was released on 25 January 2010. The album features the 22 and 23 November 2003 performances in Dublin during his concert tour A Reality Tour. This is an audio version of the concert video of the same name, except that it adds three bonus tracks...

, a double album of live material from the 2003 concert tour, was released in January 2010.

In late March 2011, Toy
Toy (David Bowie album)
Toy is an album by the British rock musician David Bowie, recorded for release in 2001, and leaked onto the Internet in 2011. Although Bowie had begun recording the album intended to feature new versions of some of his earliest pieces as well as three new songs, its sessions led him to Heathen and...

, Bowie's previously unreleased album from 2001, was leaked onto the internet, containing material used for Heathen and most of its single B-sides, as well as unheard new versions of his early back catalogue.

Acting career



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.

The beginnings of his acting career predate his commercial breakthrough as a musician. Studying avant-garde
Avant-garde
Avant-garde means "advance guard" or "vanguard". The adjective form is used in English to refer to people or works that are experimental or innovative, particularly with respect to art, culture, and politics....

 theatre and mime
Mime artist
A mime artist is someone who uses mime as a theatrical medium or as a performance art, involving miming, or the acting out a story through body motions, without use of speech. In earlier times, in English, such a performer was referred to as a mummer...

 under Lindsay Kemp
Lindsay Kemp
Lindsay Kemp is a British dancer, actor, teacher, mime artist and choreographer.Born in South Shields on May 3, 1938, Kemp's father, a seaman, was lost at sea in 1940. According to Kemp, he danced from early childhood: "I'd dance on the kitchen table to entertain the neighbours. I mean, it was a...

, he was given the role of Cloud in Kemp's 1967 theatrical production Pierrot in Turquoise (later made into the 1970 television film The Looking Glass Murders). In the black-and-white short The Image
The Image (short film)
The Image is a 1969 black and white short film directed by Michael Armstrong with starring Michael Byrne and David Bowie in his first film role...

(1969), he played a ghostly boy who emerges from a troubled artist's painting to haunt him. The same year, the film of Leslie Thomas
Leslie Thomas
Leslie Thomas, OBE is a British author.- Virgin Soldiers :His novels about 1950s British National Service such as "The Virgin Soldiers" spawned two film versions, in 1969 and 1977, whilst his Tropic of Ruislip and Dangerous Davies, The Last Detective have been adapted for television Leslie...

's 1966 comic novel The Virgin Soldiers
The Virgin Soldiers
The Virgin Soldiers is a 1966 comic novel by Leslie Thomas, inspired by his own experiences of National Service in the British Army.The novel was turned into a film The Virgin Soldiers in 1969, directed by John Dexter, with a screenplay by the British screenwriter John Hopkins. It starred Hywel...

saw Bowie make a brief appearance as an extra. In 1976 he earned acclaim for his first major film role, portraying Thomas Jerome Newton, an alien from a dying planet, in The Man Who Fell to Earth
The Man Who Fell to Earth (film)
The Man Who Fell to Earth is a 1976 British science fiction film directed by Nicolas Roeg.The film is based on the 1963 novel of the same name by Walter Tevis, about an extraterrestrial who crash lands on Earth seeking a way to ship water to his planet, which is suffering from a severe drought...

, directed by Nic Roeg. Just a Gigolo
Schöner Gigolo, armer Gigolo
Schöner Gigolo, armer Gigolo is a 1978 film directed by David Hemmings and starring David Bowie. Set in post-World War I Berlin, it also featured Sydne Rome, Kim Novak and, in her last screen appearance, Marlene Dietrich...

(1979), an Anglo-German co-production directed by David Hemmings
David Hemmings
David Edward Leslie Hemmings was an English film, theatre and television actor as well as a film and television director and producer....

, saw Bowie in the lead role as Prussian officer Paul von Pryzgodski, who, returning from World War I, is discovered by a Baroness (Marlene Dietrich
Marlene Dietrich
Marlene Dietrich was a German-American actress and singer.Dietrich remained popular throughout her long career by continually re-inventing herself, professionally and characteristically. In the Berlin of the 1920s, she acted on the stage and in silent films...

) and put into her Gigolo Stable.

Bowie took the title role in the Broadway theatre production The Elephant Man
The Elephant Man (play)
The Elephant Man is a 1977 play by Bernard Pomerance. The production's Broadway debut in 1979 was produced by Richmond Crinkley and Nelle Nugent, and directed by Jack Hofsiss...

, earning high praise for an expressive performance. He played the part 157 times between 1980 and 1981. Christiane F. – Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo, a 1981 biographical film focusing on a young girl's drug addiction in West Berlin
West Berlin
West Berlin was a political exclave that existed between 1949 and 1990. It comprised the western regions of Berlin, which were bordered by East Berlin and parts of East Germany. West Berlin consisted of the American, British, and French occupation sectors, which had been established in 1945...

, featured Bowie in a cameo appearance as himself at a concert in Germany. Its soundtrack album, Christiane F.
Christiane F. (album)
Christiane F. - Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo is a soundtrack album by David Bowie, released on LP in 1981 by RCA Victor , for the movie about Christiane F...

(1981), featured much material from his Berlin Trilogy
Berlin Trilogy
The Berlin Trilogy is a series of David Bowie albums recorded in collaboration with Brian Eno in the 1970s. The three albums are Low, "Heroes" and Lodger....

 albums. Bowie starred in The Hunger (1983), a revisionist vampire
Vampire
Vampires are mythological or folkloric beings who subsist by feeding on the life essence of living creatures, regardless of whether they are undead or a living person...

 film, with Catherine Deneuve
Catherine Deneuve
Catherine Deneuve is a French actress. She gained recognition for her portrayal of aloof and mysterious beauties in films such as Repulsion and Belle de jour . Deneuve was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in 1993 for her performance in Indochine; she also won César Awards for that...

 and Susan Sarandon
Susan Sarandon
Susan Sarandon is an American actress. She has worked in films and television since 1969, and won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in the 1995 film Dead Man Walking. She had also been nominated for the award for four films before that and has received other recognition for her...

. In Nagisa Oshima
Nagisa Oshima
is a Japanese film director and screenwriter. After graduating from Kyoto University he was hired by Shochiku Ltd. and quickly progressed to directing his own movies, making his debut feature A Town of Love and Hope in 1959....

's film the same year, Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence
Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence
Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence is a 1983 film directed by Nagisa Oshima, produced by Jeremy Thomas and starring Jack Thompson, David Bowie, Tom Conti, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Yuya Uchida, and Takeshi Kitano.It was written by Oshima and Paul Mayersberg and based on Laurens van der Post's experiences...

, based on Laurens van der Post
Laurens van der Post
Sir Laurens Jan van der Post, CBE was a 20th century Afrikaner author of many books, farmer, war hero, political adviser to British heads of government, close friend of Prince Charles, godfather of Prince William, educator, journalist, humanitarian, philosopher, explorer, and...

's novel The Seed and the Sower, Bowie played Major Jack Celliers, a prisoner of war in a Japanese internment camp. Bowie had a cameo in Yellowbeard
Yellowbeard
Yellowbeard is a 1983 comedy film by Graham Chapman, along with Peter Cook, Bernard McKenna and David Sherlock. It was directed by Mel Damski, and was Marty Feldman's last film appearance.-Plot:...

, a 1983 pirate comedy created by Monty Python
Monty Python
Monty Python was a British surreal comedy group who created their influential Monty Python's Flying Circus, a British television comedy sketch show that first aired on the BBC on 5 October 1969. Forty-five episodes were made over four series...

 members, and a small part as Colin, the hitman
Hitman
A hitman is a person hired to kill another person.- Hitmen in organized crime :Hitmen are largely linked to the world of organized crime. Hitmen are hired people who kill people for money. Notable examples include Murder, Inc., Mafia hitmen and Richard Kuklinski.- Other cases involving hitmen...

 in the 1985 film Into the Night. He declined to play the villain Max Zorin
Max Zorin
Max Zorin is a fictional character and the main antagonist in the James Bond film A View to a Kill. He was portrayed by Academy Award winner Christopher Walken...

 in the James Bond
James Bond
James Bond, code name 007, is a fictional character created in 1953 by writer Ian Fleming, who featured him in twelve novels and two short story collections. There have been a six other authors who wrote authorised Bond novels or novelizations after Fleming's death in 1964: Kingsley Amis,...

 film A View to a Kill
A View to a Kill
A View to a Kill is the fourteenth spy film of the James Bond series, and the seventh and last to star Roger Moore as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. Although the title is adapted from Ian Fleming's short story "From a View to a Kill", the film is the fourth Bond film after The Spy Who Loved...

(1985).

Absolute Beginners
Absolute Beginners (film)
Absolute Beginners is a 1986 British rock musical film adapted from the Colin MacInnes book of the same name about life in late 1950s London. The film was directed by Julien Temple, featured David Bowie and Sade, and a breakout role by Patsy Kensit...

(1986), a rock musical based on Colin MacInnes
Colin MacInnes
Colin MacInnes was an English novelist and journalist.-Early life:MacInnes was born in London, the son of singer James Campbell McInnes and novelist Angela Thirkell, who was also related to Rudyard Kipling and Stanley Baldwin. His family moved to Australia in 1920, MacInness returning in 1930...

's 1959 novel about London life, featured Bowie's music and presented him with a minor acting role. The same year, Jim Henson
Jim Henson
James Maury "Jim" Henson was an American puppeteer best known as the creator of The Muppets. As a puppeteer, Henson performed in various television programs, such as Sesame Street and The Muppet Show, films such as The Muppet Movie and The Great Muppet Caper, and created advanced puppets for...

's dark fantasy Labyrinth
Labyrinth (film)
Labyrinth is a 1986 British/American fantasy film directed by Jim Henson, produced by George Lucas, and designed by Brian Froud. Henson collaborated on the screenwriting with children's author Dennis Lee, Terry Jones from Monty Python, and Elaine May .The film stars David Bowie as Jareth the Goblin...

found him with the part of Jareth, the king of the goblin
Goblin
A goblin is a legendary evil or mischievous illiterate creature, a grotesquely evil or evil-like phantom.They are attributed with various abilities, temperaments and appearances depending on the story and country of origin. In some cases, goblins have been classified as constantly annoying little...

s. Two years later he played Pontius Pilate
Pontius Pilate
Pontius Pilatus , known in the English-speaking world as Pontius Pilate , was the fifth Prefect of the Roman province of Judaea, from AD 26–36. He is best known as the judge at Jesus' trial and the man who authorized the crucifixion of Jesus...

 in Martin Scorsese
Martin Scorsese
Martin Charles Scorsese is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, actor, and film historian. In 1990 he founded The Film Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to film preservation, and in 2007 he founded the World Cinema Foundation...

's 1988 film The Last Temptation of Christ
The Last Temptation of Christ (film)
The Last Temptation of Christ is a 1988 drama film directed by Martin Scorsese. It is a film adaptation of the controversial 1953 novel of the same name by Nikos Kazantzakis. It stars Willem Dafoe as Jesus Christ, Harvey Keitel as Judas Iscariot, Barbara Hershey as Mary Magdalene, David Bowie as...

. Bowie portrayed a disgruntled restaurant employee opposite Rosanna Arquette
Rosanna Arquette
Rosanna Lauren Arquette is an American actress, film director, and producer.-Early life:Arquette was born in New York City, the daughter of Brenda Olivia "Mardi" , an actress, poet, theater operator, activist, acting teacher, and therapist, and Lewis Arquette, an actor and director. Her paternal...

 in The Linguini Incident
The Linguini Incident
The Linguini Incident is a 1991 American comedic film set in New York starring David Bowie and Rosanna Arquette. The film was directed by Richard Shepard, who co-wrote the script with Tamar Brott...

(1991), and the mysterious FBI agent Phillip Jeffries in David Lynch's Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992). He took a small but pivotal role as Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol
Andrew Warhola , known as Andy Warhol, was an American painter, printmaker, and filmmaker who was a leading figure in the visual art movement known as pop art...

 in Basquiat, artist/director Julian Schnabel
Julian Schnabel
Julian Schnabel is an American artist and filmmaker. In the 1980s, Schnabel received international media attention for his "plate paintings"—large-scale paintings set on broken ceramic plates....

's 1996 biopic of Jean-Michel Basquiat
Jean-Michel Basquiat
Jean-Michel Basquiat was an American artist. His career in art began as a graffiti artist in New York City in the late 1970s, and in the 1980s produced Neo-expressionist painting.-Early life:...

, and co-starred in Giovanni Veronesi
Giovanni Veronesi
Giovanni Veronesi is an Italian film screenwriter, actor and director. Born in Prato, he is the brother of the writer Sandro Veronesi....

's Spaghetti Western
Spaghetti Western
Spaghetti Western, also known as Italo-Western, is a nickname for a broad sub-genre of Western films that emerged in the mid-1960s in the wake of Sergio Leone's unique and much copied film-making style and international box-office success, so named by American critics because most were produced and...

 Il Mio West (1998, released as Gunslinger's Revenge
Gunslinger's Revenge
Gunslinger's Revenge is a 1998 Italian film directed by Giovanni Veronesi and starring Leonardo Pieraccioni, Harvey Keitel and David Bowie. The screenplay was written by Veronesi and Pieraccioni, based on the novel by Vincenzo Pardini....

in the US in 2005) as the most feared gunfighter in the region. He played the ageing gangster Bernie in Andrew Goth's Everybody Loves Sunshine
Everybody Loves Sunshine
Everybody Loves Sunshine , is a 1999 British independent film written and directed by Andrew Goth, and starring Rachel Shelley, David Bowie and Goldie.-Plot:...

(1999), and appeared in the TV horror serial of The Hunger
The Hunger (serial)
The Hunger is a British/Canadian television horror anthology series, co-produced by Scott Free Productions, Telescene Film Group Productions and the Canadian pay-TV channel The Movie Network...

. In Mr. Rice's Secret (2000), he played the title role as the neighbour of a terminally ill twelve-year-old, and the following year appeared as himself in Zoolander
Zoolander
Zoolander is a 2001 American satirical comedy film directed by and starring Ben Stiller. The film contains elements from a pair of short films directed by Russell Bates and written by Drake Sather and Stiller for the VH1 Fashion Awards television specials in 1996 and 1997. The short films and the...

.

Bowie portrayed physicist Nikola Tesla
Nikola Tesla
Nikola Tesla was a Serbian-American inventor, mechanical engineer, and electrical engineer...

 in the Christopher Nolan
Christopher Nolan
Christopher Jonathan James Nolan is a British-American film director, screenwriter and producer.He received serious notice after his second feature Memento , which he wrote and directed based on a story idea by his brother, Jonathan Nolan. Jonathan went to co-write later scripts with him,...

 film, The Prestige
The Prestige (film)
The Prestige is a 2006 mystery thriller film written, directed and co-produced by Christopher Nolan, with a screenplay adapted from Christopher Priest's 1995 novel of the same name. The story follows Robert Angier and Alfred Borden, rival stage magicians in London at the end of the 19th century...

(2006), which was about the bitter rivalry between two magicians in the late 19th century. He voice-acted in the animated film Arthur and the Invisibles
Arthur and the Invisibles
Arthur and the Invisibles is a French/American part-animated, part-live action feature film adaptation of the 2002 children's book Arthur et les minimoys / Arthur and the Minimoys, and the 2003 sequel Arthur et la cité interdite /...

as the powerful villain Maltazard, and lent his voice to the character Lord Royal Highness in the SpongeBob's Atlantis SquarePantis
SpongeBob's Atlantis SquarePantis
SpongeBob's Atlantis SquarePantis is a television film and musical from the fifth season of the animated television series SpongeBob SquarePants. The film first aired in the United States on November 12, 2007, following a 12-hour-marathon of SpongeBob SquarePants episodes. It attracted an estimated...

television film. In the 2008 film August, directed by Austin Chick
Austin Chick
Austin Chick is an American film director, screenwriter and producer, who made the films XX/XY, released in 2002, and August, which premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.-Early life:...

, he played a supporting role as Ogilvie, alongside Josh Hartnett
Josh Hartnett
Joshua Daniel "Josh" Hartnett is an American actor and aspiring producer. He first came to audiences' attention in 1997 as "Michael Fitzgerald" in the television series Cracker. He made his feature film debut in 1998, co-starring with Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween H20: 20 Years Later for Miramax...

 and Rip Torn
Rip Torn
Elmore Rual "Rip" Torn, Jr. , is an American actor of stage, screen and television.Torn received an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor for his role in the 1983 film Cross Creek. His work includes the role of Artie, the producer, on The Larry Sanders Show, for which he was nominated...

, with whom he had worked in 1976 for The Man Who Fell to Earth.

Sexual orientation


Buckley writes, "If Ziggy confused both his creator and his audience, a big part of that confusion centred on the topic of sexuality." Bowie declared himself bisexual in an interview with Michael Watts of Melody Maker
Melody Maker
Melody Maker, published in the United Kingdom, was, according to its publisher IPC Media, the world's oldest weekly music newspaper. It was founded in 1926 as a magazine targeted at musicians; in 2000 it was merged into "long-standing rival" New Musical Express.-1950s–1960s:Originally the Melody...

in January 1972, a move coinciding with the first shots in his campaign for stardom as Ziggy Stardust. In a September 1976 interview with Playboy
Playboy
Playboy is an American men's magazine that features photographs of nude women as well as journalism and fiction. It was founded in Chicago in 1953 by Hugh Hefner and his associates, and funded in part by a $1,000 loan from Hefner's mother. The magazine has grown into Playboy Enterprises, Inc., with...

, Bowie said: "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."


In a 1983 interview with Rolling Stone, Bowie said his public declaration of bisexuality was "the biggest mistake I ever made", and on other occasions he said his interest in homosexual and bisexual culture had been more a product of the times and the situation in which he found himself than his own feelings; as described by Buckley, he said he had been driven more by "a compulsion to flout moral codes than a real biological and psychological state of being".

Asked in 2002 by Blender
Blender (magazine)
Blender was an American music magazine that billed itself as "the ultimate guide to music and more". It was also known for sometimes steamy pictorials of celebrities....

whether he still believed his public declaration was the biggest mistake he ever made, he replied:
Buckley's view of the period is that Bowie, "a taboo-breaker and a dabbler ... mined sexual intrigue for its ability to shock", and that "it is probably true that Bowie was never gay, nor even consistently actively bisexual ... he did, from time to time, experiment, even if only out of a sense of curiosity and a genuine allegiance with the 'transgressional'." Biographer Christopher Sandford says that according to Mary Finnigan, with whom Bowie had an affair in 1969, the singer and his first wife Angie "lived in a fantasy world [...] and they created their bisexual fantasy." Sandford tells how, during the marriage, Bowie "made a positive fetish of repeating the quip that he and his wife had met while 'fucking the same bloke' [...] Gay sex was always an anecdotal and laughing matter. That Bowie's actual tastes swung the other way is clear from even a partial tally of his affairs with women."

Musicianship



From the time of his earliest recordings in the 1960s, Bowie has employed a wide variety of musical styles. His early compositions and performances were strongly influenced not only by rock and rollers like Little Richard
Little Richard
Richard Wayne Penniman , known by the stage name Little Richard, is an American singer, songwriter, musician, recording artist, and actor, considered key in the transition from rhythm and blues to rock and roll in the 1950s. He was also the first artist to put the funk in the rock and roll beat and...

 and Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley
Elvis Aaron Presley was one of the most popular American singers of the 20th century. A cultural icon, he is widely known by the single name Elvis. He is often referred to as the "King of Rock and Roll" or simply "the King"....

 but also by the wider world of show business. He particularly strove to emulate the British musical theatre singer-songwriter and actor Anthony Newley
Anthony Newley
Anthony George Newley was an English actor, singer and songwriter. He enjoyed success as a performer in such diverse fields as rock and roll and stage and screen acting.-Early life:...

, whose vocal style he frequently adopted, and made prominent use of for his 1967 debut release, David Bowie
David Bowie (album)
-Bonus tracks :# "Rubber Band" – Mono Single A-side # "The London Boys" – Mono Single B-side # "The Laughing Gnome" – Mono Single A-side # "The Gospel According To Tony Day" – Mono Single B-side...

(to the disgust of Newley himself, who destroyed the copy he received from Bowie's publisher). Bowie's music hall
Music hall
Music Hall is a type of British theatrical entertainment which was popular between 1850 and 1960. The term can refer to:# A particular form of variety entertainment involving a mixture of popular song, comedy and speciality acts...

 fascination continued to surface sporadically alongside such diverse styles as hard rock and heavy metal, soul, psychedelic folk and pop.

Musicologist James Perone observes Bowie's use of octave switches for different repetitions of the same melody, exemplified in his commercial breakthrough single, "Space Oddity", and later in the song "Heroes", to dramatic effect; Perone notes that "in the lowest part of his vocal register [...] his voice has an almost crooner-like richness."

Voice instructor Jo Thompson describes Bowie's vocal vibrato technique as "particularly deliberate and distinctive". Schinder and Schwartz call him "a vocalist of extraordinary technical ability, able to pitch his singing to particular effect." Here, too, as in his stagecraft and songwriting, the singer's chamaeleon-like nature is evident: historiographer Michael Campbell says that Bowie's lyrics "arrest our ear, without question. But Bowie continually shifts from person to person as he delivers them [...] His voice changes dramatically from section to section."

Bowie plays many instruments, among them electric, acoustic, and twelve-string guitar, alto, tenor and baritone saxophone, keyboards including piano, synthesizers and Mellotron
Mellotron
The Mellotron is an electro-mechanical, polyphonic tape replay keyboard originally developed and built in Birmingham, England in the early 1960s. It superseded the Chamberlin Music Master, which was the world's first sample-playback keyboard intended for music...

, harmonica, Stylophone, xylophone
Xylophone
The xylophone is a musical instrument in the percussion family that consists of wooden bars struck by mallets...

, vibraphone
Vibraphone
The vibraphone, sometimes called the vibraharp or simply the vibes, is a musical instrument in the struck idiophone subfamily of the percussion family....

, koto
Koto (musical instrument)
The koto is a traditional Japanese stringed musical instrument, similar to the Chinese guzheng, the Mongolian yatga, the Korean gayageum and the Vietnamese đàn tranh. The koto is the national instrument of Japan. Koto are about length, and made from kiri wood...

, drums and percussion, and string instruments including viola
Viola
The viola is a bowed string instrument. It is the middle voice of the violin family, between the violin and the cello.- Form :The viola is similar in material and construction to the violin. A full-size viola's body is between and longer than the body of a full-size violin , with an average...

 and cello.

Legacy



Bowie's innovative songs and stagecraft brought a new dimension to popular music in the early 1970s, strongly influencing both its immediate forms and its subsequent development. A pioneer of glam rock, Bowie, according to music historians Schinder and Schwartz, has joint responsibility with Marc Bolan for creating the genre. At the same time, he inspired the innovators of the punk rock music movement—historian Michael Campbell calls him "one of punk's seminal influences". While punk musicians trashed the conventions of pop stardom, Bowie moved on again—into a more abstract style of music making that would in turn become a transforming influence. Biographer David Buckley writes, "At a time when punk rock was noisily reclaiming the three-minute pop song in a show of public defiance, Bowie almost completely abandoned traditional rock instrumentation." Bowie's record company sought to convey his unique status in popular music with the slogan, "There is old wave, there is new wave, and there is Bowie..." Musicologist James Perone credits him with having "brought sophistication to rock music", and critical reviews frequently acknowledge the intellectual depth of his work and influence.

Buckley writes that, in an early 1970s pop world that was "Bloated, self-important, leather-clad, self-satisfied, ... Bowie challenged the core belief of the rock music of its day." As described by John Peel
John Peel
John Robert Parker Ravenscroft, OBE , known professionally as John Peel, was an English disc jockey, radio presenter, record producer and journalist. He was the longest-serving of the original BBC Radio 1 DJs, broadcasting regularly from 1967 until his death in 2004...

, "The one distinguishing feature about early-70s progressive rock was that it didn't progress. Before Bowie came along, people didn't want too much change." Buckley says that Bowie "subverted the whole notion of what it was to be a rock star", with the result that "After Bowie there has been no other pop icon of his stature, because the pop world that produces these rock gods doesn't exist any more. ... The fierce partisanship of the cult of Bowie was also unique—its influence lasted longer and has been more creative than perhaps almost any other force within pop fandom." Buckley concludes that "Bowie is both star and icon. The vast body of work he has produced ... has created perhaps the biggest cult in popular culture. ... His influence has been unique in popular culture—he has permeated and altered more lives than any comparable figure."

Bowie was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is a museum located on the shore of Lake Erie in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, United States. It is dedicated to archiving the history of some of the best-known and most influential artists, producers, engineers and others who have, in some major way,...

 in 1996. Through perpetual reinvention, he has seen his influence continue to broaden and extend: music reviewer Brad Filicky writes that over the decades, "Bowie has become known as a musical chameleon, changing and dictating trends as much as he has altered his style to fit", influencing fashion and pop culture to a degree "second only to Madonna". Biographer Thomas Forget adds, "Because he has succeeded in so many different styles of music, it is almost impossible to find a popular artist today that has not been influenced by David Bowie."

Awards and recognition


Bowie's 1969 commercial breakthrough, the song "Space Oddity", won him an Ivor Novello
Ivor Novello Awards
The Ivor Novello Awards, named after the Cardiff born entertainer Ivor Novello, are awards for songwriting and composing. They are presented annually in London by the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors and were first introduced in 1955.Nicknamed The Ivors, the awards take place...

 Special Award For Originality. For his performance in the 1976 science fiction film The Man Who Fell to Earth
The Man Who Fell to Earth (film)
The Man Who Fell to Earth is a 1976 British science fiction film directed by Nicolas Roeg.The film is based on the 1963 novel of the same name by Walter Tevis, about an extraterrestrial who crash lands on Earth seeking a way to ship water to his planet, which is suffering from a severe drought...

, he won a Saturn Award for Best Actor
Saturn Award for Best Actor
The Saturn Award is an award presented annually by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films to honor the top works in science fiction, fantasy, and horror in film, television, and home video. The Saturn Awards were devised by Dr. Donald A. Reed, who felt that films within those genres...

. In the ensuing decades he has been honoured with numerous awards for his music and its accompanying videos, receiving, among others, two Grammy Award
Grammy Award
A Grammy Award — or Grammy — is an accolade by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States to recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry...

s and two BRIT Awards
Brit Awards
The Brit Awards are the British Phonographic Industry's annual pop music awards. The name was originally a shortened form of "British", "Britain" or "Britannia", but subsequently became a backronym for British Record Industry Trust...

.

In 1999, Bowie was made a Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
The Ordre des Arts et des Lettres is an Order of France, established on 2 May 1957 by the Minister of Culture, and confirmed as part of the Ordre national du Mérite by President Charles de Gaulle in 1963...

 by the French government. He received an honorary doctorate from Berklee College of Music
Berklee College of Music
Berklee College of Music, located in Boston, Massachusetts, is the largest independent college of contemporary music in the world. Known primarily as a school for jazz, rock and popular music, it also offers college-level courses in a wide range of contemporary and historic styles, including hip...

 the same year. He declined the royal honour of Commander of the British Empire
Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

 in 2000, and turned down a knight
Knight
A knight was a member of a class of lower nobility in the High Middle Ages.By the Late Middle Ages, the rank had become associated with the ideals of chivalry, a code of conduct for the perfect courtly Christian warrior....

hood in 2003, stating: "I would never have any intention of accepting anything like that. I seriously don't know what it's for. It's not what I spent my life working for."

Throughout his career he has sold an estimated 136 million albums. In the United Kingdom, he has been awarded 9 Platinum, 11 Gold and 8 Silver albums, and in the United States, 5 Platinum and 7 Gold. In the BBC's 2002 poll of the 100 Greatest Britons
100 Greatest Britons
100 Greatest Britons was broadcast in 2002 by the BBC. The programme was the result of a vote conducted to determine whom the United Kingdom public considers the greatest British people in history. The series, Great Britons, included individual programmes on the top ten, with viewers having further...

, he was ranked 29. In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him 39th on their list of the 100 Greatest Rock Artists of All Time and the 23rd best singer of all time. Bowie was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is a museum located on the shore of Lake Erie in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, United States. It is dedicated to archiving the history of some of the best-known and most influential artists, producers, engineers and others who have, in some major way,...

 on 17 January 1996.

Discography


  • David Bowie
    David Bowie (album)
    -Bonus tracks :# "Rubber Band" – Mono Single A-side # "The London Boys" – Mono Single B-side # "The Laughing Gnome" – Mono Single A-side # "The Gospel According To Tony Day" – Mono Single B-side...

    (1967)
  • Space Oddity
    Space Oddity (album)
    -Release history:-7" open reel tape releases:There was only one release of Space Oddity on open reel, in 1972 duplicated by Magtec, North Hollywood, CA 91605. This is a high speed 7.5 ips release...

    (1969)
  • The Man Who Sold the World (1970)
  • Hunky Dory
    Hunky Dory
    Hunky Dory is the fourth album by English singer-songwriter David Bowie, released by RCA Records in 1971. It was Bowie's first release through RCA, which would be his label for the next decade...

    (1971)
  • The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
    The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
    The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars is a 1972 concept album by English musician David Bowie, which is loosely based on a story of a rock star named Ziggy Stardust. It peaked at number five in the United Kingdom and number 75 in the United States on the Billboard Music...

    (1972)
  • Aladdin Sane
    Aladdin Sane
    Aladdin Sane is the sixth album by David Bowie, released by RCA Records in 1973 . The follow-up to his breakthrough The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, it was the first album Bowie wrote and released as a bona fide rock star...

    (1973)
  • Pin Ups
    Pin Ups
    - Personnel :* David Bowie – vocals, guitar, tenor and alto saxophone, harmonica, arrangements, backing vocals, Moog synthesizer* Mick Ronson – guitar, piano, vocals, arrangements* Trevor Bolder – bass* Aynsley Dunbar – drums- Additional personnel :...

    (1973)
  • Diamond Dogs
    Diamond Dogs
    Diamond Dogs is a concept album by David Bowie, originally released by RCA Records in 1974. Thematically it was a marriage of the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell and Bowie's own glam-tinged vision of a post-apocalyptic world...

    (1974)
  • Young Americans
    Young Americans (album)
    Young Americans, released in 1975, shows off David Bowie’s 1970’s shift to his “obsession” with soul music . For this album, Bowie let go of the influences he had drawn from in the past, replacing them with sounds from “local dance halls”, which, at the time, were blaring with “…lush strings,...

    (1975)
  • Station to Station
    Station to Station
    Station to Station is the tenth studio album by English musician David Bowie, released by RCA Records in 1976. Commonly regarded as one of his most significant works, Station to Station is also notable as the vehicle for Bowie's last great 'character', The Thin White Duke...

    (1976)
  • Low (1977)
  • "Heroes" (1977)


  • Lodger
    Lodger (album)
    Lodger is an album by British singer-songwriter David Bowie, released in 1979. The last of the 'Berlin Trilogy' recorded in collaboration with Brian Eno , it was more accessible than its immediate predecessors Low and "Heroes", having no instrumentals and being somewhat lighter and more pop-oriented...

    (1979)
  • Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)
    Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)
    Scary Monsters is an album by David Bowie, released in September 1980 by RCA Records. It was Bowie's final studio album for the label and his first following the so-called Berlin Trilogy of Low, "Heroes" and Lodger . Though considered significant in artistic terms, the trilogy had proved less...

    (1980)
  • Let's Dance (1983)
  • Tonight (1984)
  • Never Let Me Down
    Never Let Me Down
    Never Let Me Down is an album by David Bowie, released in April 1987. Written over a 3-month period and recorded in Switzerland, Bowie regarded the album at the time as a "move back to rock 'n roll music...

    (1987)
  • Black Tie White Noise
    Black Tie White Noise
    Black Tie White Noise is an album by David Bowie. Released in 1993, it was his first solo release in the 1990s after spending time with his hard rock band Tin Machine, retiring his old hits on his Sound+Vision Tour, and marrying supermodel Iman Abdulmajid. This album featured his old guitarist from...

    (1993)
  • Outside (1995)
  • Earthling
    Earthling (album)
    Earthling is an album by David Bowie released in February 1997 via BMG. The album showcases an electronica-influenced sound partly inspired by the Industrial and drum and bass culture of the 1990s.-Album background and development:...

    (1997)
  • 'Hours...'
    'Hours...'
    'Hours...' is a 1999 album by British musician David Bowie. It was released on Virgin Records. This was Bowie's final album for the EMI sub-label....

    (1999)
  • Heathen (2002)
  • Reality (2003)


See also


  • Best selling music artists
  • Bowie Bonds
    Bowie Bonds
    Bowie Bonds are asset-backed securities of current and future revenues of the 25 albums that David Bowie recorded before 1990.Issued in 1997, the bonds were bought for US$55 million by the Prudential Insurance Company. The bonds paid an interest rate of 7.9% and had an average life of ten years, a...

  • List of artists who reached number one on the Hot 100 (US)
  • List of artists who reached number one on the US Dance chart
  • List of David Bowie tours
  • List of number-one hits (United States)
  • List of Number 1 Dance Hits (United States)
  • List of people who have declined a British honour

Further reading


  • Trynka Paul, Starman: David Bowie – The Definitive Biography, Little, Brown Book Group Limited, 2011
  • Cann, David, Any Day Now: David Bowie the London Years 1947–1974, Kenneth Pitt in Books, 2011
  • Jacke, Andreas, David Bowie – Station To Station, Psychosozial- Verlag, 2011
  • Seabrook, Thomas Jerome, Bowie in Berlin: A New Career in a New Town, Jawbone Press, 2008.
  • Spitz, Marc
    Marc spitz
    Marc Spitz is a music journalist, author and playwright. Spitz's writings on rock n' roll and popular culture have appeared in Spin as well as The New York Times, Maxim, Blender, Harp, Nylon and the New York Post...

    , Bowie: A Biography
    Bowie: A Biography
    BOWIE: A Biography is an expansive biography on the life and times of musician David Bowie, one of the twentieth century's greatest music and cultural icons...

    , Crown Publishers, 2009.
  • Tremlett, George, David Bowie: Living on the Brink, Carroll and Graf, 1997.
  • Waldrep, Shelton, "Phenomenology of Performance", The Aesthetics of Self-Invention: Oscar Wilde to David Bowie, University of Minnesota Press, 2004.
  • Welch, Chris
    Chris Welch
    Chris Welch is a music journalist, reviewer and critic with Melody Maker, famous during the 1960s and 1970s for reporting on the rise of such bands as The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Traffic, If, Cream and Jeff Beck. During that time he also reported on the UK jazz scene.- Career...

    , David Bowie: We Could Be Heroes: The Stories Behind Every David Bowie Song, Da Capo Press, 1999.
  • Wilcken, Hugo, 33⅓: David Bowie's Low, Continuum, 2005.


External links