David Bowie

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From the early Years and on

David Bowie, (born David Robert Jones on 8th January 1947 in Brixton, London - UK) probably needs no introduction to anyone who's reading this site; Bowie has probably pushed more boundaries than most other artists.

Amongst his earliest releases, David Bowie, or David Jones as he was known then, was singing on albums which were billed under the 'Can you tell the difference between these and the original artists?' category. Like other session musicians, he recorded the vocals on tracks of famous songs for compilation albums.

His first single was released in 1964, but it took until the 1969 release of "Space Oddity" before he gained public acclaim. The 1972 album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, took Bowie's popularity up another level.

In 1975 Bowie achieved his first major success in America with the single "Fame" and the hit "Young Americans", which he described as as 'Plastic Soul'. During this time, his sound took on a radical shift in style that initially alienated a number of his UK fan-base.

Then in 1977 he confounded the expectations of both his record label and his American audiences by recording the minimalist album Low: this was the first of three collaborations with the genius Brian Eno. This album and the following two albums became known as the Berlin Trilogy; each one hit the top 5 in the UK album charts, as well as receiving acclaim amongst the critics. These following two albums were Heroes also from (1977) and Lodger in (1979).

After some ups and downs within his success during the late 1970s, Bowie achieved further success with the UK number 1 hits "Ashes to Ashes" in 1980, from the album Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps), and "Under Pressure", a 1981 collaboration with Queen. Bowie's stardom increased and he attained an unprecedented level of success in 1983 with the album Let's Dance, this album gave birth to several hit singles, including the single of the same name as the album.

Throughout his career, the recordings he's released have experimented with varying musical influences, including: Soul, Industrial and even Jungle, as well as alternative edged Electronic Dance Music and New Wave. He often pre-dated these genres’ popularity, or pre-dated the point at which they were defined as genres.

Album List

1) David Bowie (1967)

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2) Space Oddity (1969)

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3) The Man Who Sold the World (1970)

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4) Hunky Dory (1971)

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5) The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972)

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6) Aladdin Sane (1973)

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7) Pin Ups (1973)

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8) Diamond Dogs (1974)

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9) Young Americans (1975)

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10) Station to Station (1976)

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11) Low (1977)

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12) Heroes (1977)

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13) Lodger (1979)

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14) Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) (1980)

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15) Let's Dance (1983)

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16) Tonight (1984)

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17) Never Let Me Down (1987)

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18) Black Tie White Noise (1993)

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19) The Buddha of Suburbia (1993)

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20) Outside (1995)

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21) Earthling (1997)

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22) 'Hours...' (1999)

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23) Heathen (2002)

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24) Reality (2003)

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25) The Next Day (2013)

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26) Blackstar (2016)

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Prestigious Career

By 2013, while The Next Day was being written, he'd been driving force on the music scene, in a career that spanned six decades. Over that time, he frequently reinvented his music, his image and even his performance personality.

Bowie's had one of the most varied musical careers; not only is he one of the most influential Rock musicians of all time, he's also sold nearly 1.5 million albums. If that wasn't achievement enough, he's also been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; he's also had success as a painter, a web-designer, a sculptor, a Broadway actor starring in The Elephant Man, and has had a variety of roles in different movies.

Awards

Bowie has many accolades, nominations and awards, below are some of the highlights:

  • 1969 Ivor Novello Award, Special Award For Originality, for Space Oddity
  • 1976 Best Actor from the Saturn Award for The Man Who Fell to Earth
  • 1984 David Bowie Best British Male
  • 1984 MTV Video Music Award for China Girl
  • 1986 MTV, Best Overall Performance in a Video for Dancing in the Street
  • 1995 Q Magazine, Q Inspiration Award
  • 1996 Outstanding Contribution to British Music
  • 1999 WB Radio Music Legend Award
  • 2000 David Bowie GQ Magazine, Most Stylish Man of the Year
  • 2006 A Grammy for Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 2007 International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, Webby Lifetime Achievement

Bowie the Actor

Film Credits:

  • 2009, he performed in the movie "Bandslam".
  • 2008, he was Cyrus Ogilvie in the movie "August".
  • 2007, he even played the voice of a character in "SpongeBob SquarePants", the character being "Lord Royal Highness".
  • 2006, he played himself in the TV show "Extras"
  • 2005, he was uncredited, but appeared in he TV series "Nathan Barley"
  • 1999-2000, he played The Host/Julian Priest, in the TV series, "The Hunger"
  • 2000, he appeared in "Empty"
  • 1998, he played the roll of Jack Sikora, in "Il mio West"
  • 1996, he played a legendary roll as Andy Warhol in "Basquiat"
  • 1991, he had the roll of, Sir Roland Moorecock, in the TV series "Dream On"
  • 1986, one of his finest rolls as Jareth the Goblin King, in the fantasy movie "Labyrinth"
  • 1983, found him as John Blaylock, in the movie "The Hunger"
  • 1982, he had the title roll in the TV movie, "Baal"

The Bowie effect

Bowie is widely regarded as an innovator and has been cited as an influence by many musicians from many walks of life, he's also commonly known as an inventor behind a number of styles and genres.

The effect on Glam

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1) Bowie's influence on Glam Rock, is highly regarded. He is often seen as the creator of the entire image, particularly during his Ziggy Stardust era. Following is a clip from the rockumentary about "Ziggy Stardust", quite possibly one of the most important music movies of all time.

2) We're sure that you can all see the effect of his images on the likes of Mötley Crüe.

The effect on Indie

  1. His influence on Indie, isn't always immediately clear, but a number of the original Indie artists cite Bowie as an inspiration. One such band is Placebo; their album "Battle For The Sun" was widely considered as a 'Bowie inspired album.' Further to this, Placebo opened a number of gigs for David Bowie in Italy, France, and Switzerland as part of the "Outside" Tour. Bowie had only heard one of their demos when this was agreed. It is a testament to his belief in their talent that Placebo played for Bowie at his 50th birthday at New York's Madison Square Garden in 1997.
  2. The Pixies, Bowie has claimed that the music The Pixies produced was, "the most compelling music in the entire 80s." The Pixies frontman, Frank Black returned the favour and claimed, "So many Bowie tracks have become an international and permanent part of the pop culture. This is a testament to not only great songwriting but beautiful recordings."
  3. Suede, The lead singer of Suede, Brett Anderson told the magazine "Uncut", that "Bowie gave me a strong sense of ambition for the band. There's a sense of him wanting to create something rather than just making a muddy-brown sound. The stuff Brian Eno did with Bowie - Low, Heroes and Lodger - is probably my favourite. I love that period when they're making something together that's out there, but still has a pop sensibility."
  4. Klaxons: Guitarist, Jamie Reynolds told NME;- "You couldn't call him Indie or Rock or dance. He's had so many different periods of experimentation and yet still he's a real pop star with it - that's something special.

The effect on Punk

  1. Punk: Bowie broke the tradidtional mould of the Rock star, being aided by the outrageous guitar stylings of Mick Ronson. Later Punk bands, like Slaughter & The Dogs and Shanne from the Nips, who swore he had the sexiest handshake, were to emulate this style.
  2. It's also possible to see a connection between an image created by Bowie and the look of Dave Vanian, frontman of The Damned.
  3. One of the major influences on Punk, Iggy Pop, was well known to be good friends with Bowie: there must have been a connection between the sounds that they both created!

The effect on Gothic

  1. From the Gothic and Post Punk/New Wave world, it's clear that the fashion sense of Depeche Mode, contained many similarities to Bowie; there is clearly a mutual respect between the two parties, as made clear by the fact that Depeche Mode have covered Bowie's tracks on a number of occasions.
  2. Robert Smith, frontman of the The Cure, and David Bowie became good friends. Smith once described Bowie's Low as the best record ever made, he went on to say, "Low was the album that had a huge impact on me, just how I saw sound. No other album has done that to me."
  3. There's a very well known link between Bowie and Bauhaus. Bauhaus covered Ziggy Stardust, which became very well known and even Bowie said he loved it. Bauhaus also performed in the 1983 movie The Hunger, in which Bowie performed.

The effect on New Romantic

  1. Duran Duran is a great example of Bowie's influence on popular culture. Their image was obviously inspired by the early 70s Glam Rock era, in which Bowie was a leading light.
  2. Many other New Romantic acts like Japan, Spandau Ballet, Ultravox, and Visage can be seen to have a very "Bowie like" image.

The effect on Rock

  1. Out of the world of Rock, Queen were David Bowie's first ever collaboration with another artist, this was the release 'Under Pressure' which was a huge worldwide hit.
  2. Lou Reed of The Velvet Underground was great friends with Bowie. Although they fell-out a few times, their ideas and talents have undoubtedly rubbed off on each other.

The effect on Pop

  1. Adam Lambert: The American singer said that he is inspired by a lot of British artists, he told the Daily Star, "A lot of my male vocal influences are British - people like David Bowie, Freddie Mercury and Robert Plant. Those are the people I really gravitate towards."
  2. Madonna once accepted an award for David Bowie and her speech was a homage to the star, "Before I saw David Bowie live, I was just your normal, dysfunctional, rebellious teenager from the Midwest, and he has truly changed my life. I've always had a sentimental attachment to David Bowie."
  3. Just in case anyone has a clue what Lady Gaga looks like, it's clear that she must have looked to Bowie for at least a little of her image!

The effect on Industrial

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1. Not necessarily as well known is Bowie's influence over Industrial; Trent of Nine Inch Nails fame is a massive Bowie fan. In 1995 Nine Inch Nails hit the road with David Bowie - Trent claimed him to be his lifelong hero. Reznor bought Bowie on stage towards the end of the Nine Inch Nails set for a few duets which led into Bowie's headlining set. This meant there wasn't a traditional support band followed by a break, followed by the headline; the show opened with Nine Inch Nails then the two bands jammed together. Finally, Reznor left the stage and Bowie just carried on with the show.

The effect on Others

Artists that cannot be defined:

1. Moby, his voice was once compared to Bowie's, his reply to this was - "I just laugh at that because I don't think I have a very good voice and I think David Bowie has one of the best, most interesting voices ever."

Bowie Live

Bowie is a multi-instrumentalist, he is known for playing the guitar, as well as piano, and saxophone, but also plays the harmonica, drums, cello, marimba, bass guitar, koto, and stylophone.

He often includes other elements into his live shows, these elements have included, the worlds of high art, as well as mime, and straight theatre.

Bowie Personae

He also uses many different personas, some of his most famous that have been seen on stage are;- "Ziggy Stardust", "Halloween Jack", "Aladdin Sane", and the "Thin White Duke". Below is a list of those personas:

  • Arnold Corns – a little bit of an arty side project, Bowie had teemed up with the students from Dulwich College under the guise of Arnold Corns in 1971. The name was a play on the Pink Floyd song Arnold Layne. This challenging project released two singles to limited success.
  • Major Tom – This was his fictional astronaut, who was, an ambitious hedonist.
  • Ziggy Stardust – Possibly his most well known persona, Ziggy had flame coloured hair, platform-booted and highly Glam Rock style clothing. With Bowie having trained in mime and cabaret, Bowie combined these disciplines with this character.
  • Aladdin Sane – Viewed by many as a character from one of his most productive periods (the early 1970s), Bowie described Aladdin Sane as - "a pun on A Lad Insane" also as "merely a development on his Ziggy Stardust character". Aladdin Sane had the same red hair as Ziggy and was almost Ziggy, but as a more traditional style rock star.
  • The Thin White Duke – This was an impeccably dressed and emaciated protagonist born out of "Station to Station". The Duke's personality also showed Bowie's interest in cabaret. This persona also behaved amoral and waved any sexual orientation. Bowie described the Duke as “a nasty character indeed.

Other personas that could be included are;-

  • Halloween Jack (1974): Loosely inspired by George Orwell’s 1984, Bowie’s 1974 album Diamond Dogs is set in the dystopian Hunger City, stalked by feral gangs of dog-men. Bowie had originally intended to produce a stage musical, and later a film, but neither project came to fruition.
  • The Man Who Sold the World - A persona, as well as a song, and a classic example of transgender dressing
  • The Man Who Fell to Earth - From when Bowie relocated to Berlin to get away from LA
  • Pierrot - Found during the 80s New Romantic era and seen in the Ashes to Ashes video
  • Tin Machine - This was more of a side project than a persona, but it was a distinctive name for Bowie around the late '80s and early '90s.
  • The Outsider - The mid 90s persona, where Bowie found himself adding Industrial to his long list of genres
  • The Elder Statesman - A suave, long-haired Soho resident, generated along with albums like …Hours and Heathen.
  • Meta-Bowie - The 2013 persona

You Tube clips

Classic song with amazing lyrics.

Heavily covered, most well known cover by Nirvana

Bowie, later in his career performing this classic song: The Man Who Sold the World

Bowie performing "Under Pressure" with Annie Lennox, of The Eurythmics. The Eurythmics were a band who undoubtably some influence from Bowie.

This is the personal favourite of the author of this page.

External Links

www.davidbowie.com

Facebook Page

Review in The Independent Voice

bbc.co.uk David Bowie: Ten things we've learned since his death