"I know about Kylie and Robbie and 'Pop Idol' and stuff like that. You can't get away from that when you hit the [British] shore, so I know all about the cruise ship entertainment aspect of British pop." David Bowie
English rock musician and actor commonly known as the “Chameleon of Pop,” David Bowie is well-known for his 1969 folk rock single “Space Oddity” and his 1972 album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, which spawned the hit songs "Suffragette City" and "Starman." The artsy rock star released such albums as Hunky Dory (1971, with hit single "Changes"), Aladdin Sane (1973), Low (1977), Heroes (1977), Let's Dance (1983), 'hours...' (1999), and Reality (2003). As an actor, Bowie appeared in The Man Who Fell To Earth (1976), The Hunger (1983, with Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon), Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983), Labyrinth (1986) and Basquiat (1996). He will soon appear in the upcoming films Arthur and the Minimoys (voice) and The Prestige.
David Bowie, formerly known with his Ziggy Stardust persona, was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1996 and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1997. The second-richest entertainer in the U.K. (behind Sir Paul McCartney) and one of “Greatest Artist in Rock 'n' Roll,” according to Rolling Stone, allegedly refused the British honor of C.B.E. (Commander of the order of British Empire) in 2000. The husband of supermodel Iman, Bowie was once married to actress Mary Angela Barnett and once dated dancer Melissa Hurley (born in 1967).
"I'm an instant star; just add water." David Bowie
David Robert Hayward
Childhood and Family:
On January 8, 1947, David Robert Hayward-Jones was born in Brixton, South London, U.K. to parents Hayward Stenton Jones and Margaret Mary Burns. He later took the stage name "David Bowie," after the Alamo hero Jim Bowie and his famous Bowie Knife, to avoid being confused with Davy Jones of the Monkees. Bowie has one brother, Terry Jones (institutionalized), who inspired Bowie’s song "All the Madmen." Teenage David Bowie attended Bromley Technical High School in London, U.K.
"You would think that a rock star being married to a super-model would be one of the greatest things in the world. It is." David Bowie
David Bowie married actress Mary Angela Barnett (a.k.a. Angela Bowie) on March 20, 1970, in Kent, England, and has one son, Zowie Duncan Heywood Bowie (a.k.a. Joe Bowie; born on May 30, 1971). After 10 years of marriage, David and Angela divorced in 1980. In November of 1991, Bowie proposed to Somali-born supermodel and actress Iman. The couple exchanged wedding vows on June 6, 1992, and has two daughters: Alexandria Zahra Jones (born on August 15, 2000) and Zulekha Haywood (born on July 5, 1978; mother: Iman, father: NBA star Spencer Haywood).
"I once asked [John] Lennon what he thought of what I do. He said 'It's great, but its just rock and roll with lipstick on.’” David Bowie
Accidentally discovered as a saxophonist, David Bowie found himself playing for blues groups like "The King Bees," "The Mannish Boys" and "The Lower Third" in the 1960s. He apprenticed in Lindsay Kemp's mime troupe, exchanging musical scores for pantomime lessons and mimed at T. Rex concerts. In 1967, Bowie acted in The Image, a 15-minute commercial for ice cream. That same year, he launched his debut solo album for Dream records, titled David Bowie, an amalgam of Psychedelic Rock and Easy Listening, which released the non-charted singles "The Laughing Gnome" and "The Gospel According to Tony Day." Bowie also acted on the BBC-TV play "The Pistol Shot" (1968) and with The Pistol Shot costar, he started a mime troupe called Feathers. Bowie then made a feature debut with a small role in The Virgin Soldiers (1969).
Bowie enjoyed his first prominence with the international hit ballad single “Space Oddity,” which was released in 1969 to coincide with the first moon landing. Despite the failure in its first release, “Space Oddity” soon became a UK hit record and topped at #5 in the UK. Bowie quickly released a second album, Man of Words, Man of Music (1969), in the US, which was re-released as Space Oddity in 1972 and charted in the UK at #17 and the US at #16. He also released the album The Man Who Sold the World (1970) and re-issued it in 1972. The re-issue album reached #26 on UK album charts. Another album, Hunky Dory, arrived in 1971 and only went to #93 on the US album charts. It was re-released in 1972 and peaked the UK album charts at #3. Hunky Dory spawned the singles "Kooks" (dedicated to his young son known to the world as Zowie Bowie), "Oh! You Pretty Things" and the semi-autobiographical "The Bewlay Brothers." In the album, Bowie also took a deep stand against other popular musicians of the time in his songs "Song for Bob Dylan," "Andy Warhol" and "Queen Bitch." Within 18 months, between 1972 and 1973, Bowie already collected four top 10 albums and eight top ten singles in the UK.
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, a concept album about the career of a celestial rocker, arrived in 1972. It produced many hit singles, including "Ziggy Stardust," "Soul Love," "Starman" and "Suffragette City." The album peaked at #5 in the UK but only reached #75 in the US. The next year, Bowie released another conceptual album about the degeneration of society, Aladdin Sane (1973). It spawned the hit singles "Jean Genie" and a cover of The Rolling Stones' "Let's Spend the Night Together." The album peaked the UK charts at #1 and #17 in the US. Also in 1973, Bowie released Pin Ups, an apathetically-received collection of cover versions of 1960's hits that managed to climb to #1 in the UK and #23 in the US. That same year, Bowie made his feature film debut as a performer and songwriter in the concert documentary, Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, which was not released in the USA until 1984.
On April 24, 1974, the album Diamond Dogs, whose subject was the apocalyptic nature of the novel 1984 by George Orwell, was released by RCA. It delivered the singles "Diamond Dogs," "Rebel Rebel" and "1984." The album was a marvelous success, peaking the UK charts at #1 and #5 in the US. On March 7, 1975, Bowie made a sudden and very jolting step in a new direction with the release of the album Young Americans, a mix of glam rock and Philadelphia soul with backing from a young Luther Vandross. It contains Bowie's first number one hit in the US, "Fame," which Bowie co-wrote with John Lennon (who also contributed backing vocals) and one of Bowie's favorite guitarists and band members, Carlos Alomar. Other singles included "Young Americans" and "Across the Universe" (written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney). The album climbed to #2 on the UK charts and #9 in the US.
A bleaker version of Bowie's soul persona, called The Thin White Duke, was featured in the album Station to Station (UK #5, US #3), released by RCA on January 23, 1976. The album offered a new direction in Bowie's music with an application of synthesizer and electronic rhythms that bent toward German pop music. It delivered the hit singles "Golden Years" and "TVC15." The album cover is a frame from the 1976 film directed by Nicolas Roeg and based on Walter Tevis' novel, The Man Who Fell to Earth. In the sci-fi drama film, Bowie starred as Thomas Jerome Newton, a humanoid alien who comes to Earth to get water for his dying planet.
In 1977, Bowie toured Europe and America as Iggy Pop's pianist. He produced Pop's albums "Raw Power," "The Idiot" and "Lust for Life." Bowie also made his US TV debut in Bing Crosby's Merry Olde Christmas special (taped in London), in which he performed the duet of "Little Drummer Boy" with Crosby. As for his music career, Bowie released one of his most influential albums, titled Low, which was released by RCA on January 14, 1977. The album, recorded in France and mixed in Berlin, was the first of the "Berlin Trilogy,” a series of collaborations with Brian Eno. Despite being influenced by German bands like Kraftwerk and Neu!, Low is often praised for its originality. The released singles "Sound and Vision” went to #3 in the UK. Bowie also co-wrote the song "Warszawa" with Brian Eno.
The second installment of Bowie and Eno's "Berlin Trilogy," "Heroes," was released on October 14, 1977. The title track was well-liked around the world and continues to be one of Bowie's best known. It reflects a classic tale of two lovers who meet at the Berlin Wall. It spawned the singles "V-2 Schneider" (a tribute to Kraftwerk's Florian Schneider), dark and atmospheric instrumentals like "Sense Of Doubt" and "Neuköln," as well as the sprawling confessional "Blackout." It also consists of the rocking opener "Beauty and the Beast" (released as the second single in January 1978), the raucous "Joe the Lion" and the light-hearted closer "The Secret Life Of Arabia." The album “Heroes” reached the UK charts at #3 but only went to #35 in the US.
Lodger (UK #4, US #20), the last of the "Berlin Trilogy," was released on May 18, 1979. The album, with no instrumentals and being somewhat lighter and more pop-orientated, was a major commercial success. It contains the amusing lead single "Boys Keep Swinging," the sarcastic second single "DJ," the surprising examination of a wife-basher’s mindset, "Repetition," and a tune courtesy of Bowie and Iggy Pop’s song "Sister Midnight," "Red Money." Other tracks included "African Night Flight," a dreamlike and energetic tribute to the music and culture of the veldt "Move On," Bowie’s lyrical tribute to his own desire to travel, "Yassassin," an incompatible reggae song with a Turkish flavor and "Red Sails," a strutting classic partly inspired by the German band Neu!. That same year, Bowie also returned to the silver screen. He starred as Paul, a veteran looking for work in Berlin, in director David Hemmings' post-war drama Schöner Gigolo, armer Gigolo (a.k.a. Just a Gigolo).
Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) is Bowie's last album with RCA Records. Released in September 1980, with the first single "Ashes to Ashes," the album debuted on the UK charts at #1. Besides the second single "Fashion," the album also included tracks like the hard-rocking opener "It’s No Game (Part 1)," the bittersweet love song "Because You’re Young" and probably the album’s most personal lyric "Teenage Wildlife." Additionally, the title track was released as a single in early 1981 in both vinyl record and compact cassette form. The album peaked the UK charts at #1 and #12 in the US.
Bowie spent the subsequent years acting. He debuted on Broadway in 1981 as John Merrick in "The Elephant Man" and played the title role of the immoral, murdering and alcoholic ex-soldier in the BBC-TV production of Bertolt Brecht's Baal (1982). He narrated the re-released version of Dianne Jackson's 26-minute animated film, inspired by Raymond Briggs' books, The Snowman (1982) and costarred with Catherine Deneuve, playing a stylish couple teaching music by day and feeding on humans at night, in Tony Scott's cult classic The Hunger (1983, also starring Susan Sarandon). Bowie played the lead role of WWII British Major Jack 'Strafer' Celliers, who comes to a Japanese prison camp in 1942, in Nagisa Oshima's first English-language film Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (opposite Tom Conti) and then appeared as a cameo in Mel Damski's comedy Yellowbeard (starring Graham Chapman, both in 1983).
Back to the music scene, Bowie released the album Let's Dance, on April 14, 1983. It was Bowie’s first truly commercial blockbuster album, climbing to #1 on the UK album charts and #4 in the US. Under the new label EMI, Bowie co-produced the dance album with Chic's Nile Rodgers. Besides spawning the title track, the album also featured the singles "Modern Love" and "China Girl." Bowie followed it up with the release of his next big dance album titled Tonight (UK #1, US #11), on September 1, 1984. It features collaborations with Tina Turner and a cover of the Beach Boys' "God Only Knows." The album spawned the minor hits "Blue Jean," "Loving the Alien," "Neighbourhood Threat" and "Tonight."
Meanwhile, moviegoers watched Bowie in John Landis' Into the Night (1985, starring Jeff Goldblum and Michelle Pfeiffer), Julien Temple's musical adaptation of Colin MacInnes' novel about life in late 1950s London, Absolute Beginners (1986, costarring with Patsy Kensit and Eddie O'Connell) and star as the evil Goblin King Jareth in Jim Henson's Labyrinth (1986, alongside Jennifer Connelly). Bowie then returned to the music studio and released the album Never Let Me Down (UK #6, US #34) in April 1987. It spawned the singles "Day-In, Day-Out" and "Time Will Crawl."
Bowie subsequently took a deserved break from releasing solo albums and began experimenting with his hard rock band, Tin Machine. He also went in front of the camera and acted the part of Pontius Pilate in Scorsese's adaptation of Nikos Kazantzakis' novel, The Last Temptation of Christ (1988, starring Willem Dafoe) and costarred with Rosanna Arquette, playing two disgruntled restaurant employees who rob their employers (played by Buck Henry and Andre Gregory), in Richard Shepard's The Linguini Incident (1991). Bowie was also cast to play Phillip Jeffries in David Lynch's film version of David Lynch and Mark Frost's earlier TV series, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992, starring Sheryl Lee).
Black Tie/White Noise (UK #1, US #39), Bowie's first solo release in the 1990s, hit the music stores on April 5, 1993, under BMG’s label. It spawned the tracks "The Wedding" (inspired by his own wedding to supermodel Iman), the title track "Black Tie/White Noise" (inspired by the issue of racism in the legal system in Los Angeles), "Jump They Say" (a tribute to Bowie's half-brother who committed suicide), "Miracle Goodnight" and "Pallas Athena." That same year in December, Bowie released The Buddha of Suburbia (UK #87), a soundtrack of a BBC series based on the book by Hanif Kureishi. The title track was released as a single, which featured both versions of the title track as well as "South Horizon" and "Dead Against It." Two years later, alongside Brian Eno and David Richards, Bowie co-produced the album 1.OUTSIDE (UK #8, US #21), which was first released on September 26, 1995, by Virgin Records. Bowie's most complicated and frightening concept album put Bowie back into the mainstream of rock music with its singles "Hallo Spaceboy" and "The Hearts Filthy Lesson."
The rest of the 1990s saw Bowie with his album Earthling (released on January 30, 1997, UK #6, US #39), which brought out the minor hits "I'm Afraid of Americans," "Dead Man Walking," "Seven Years in Tibet," "Telling Lies," and the album's biggest hit "Little Wonder." Bowie also released his final album for the EMI sub-label on October 4, 1999, 'hours...' (UK #5, US #47), a much mellower album Bowie co-produced with Reeves Gabrels. As an actor, Bowie portrayed Andy Warhol in Julian Schnabel's biopic Basquiat (1996, starring Jeffrey Wright) before he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on February 12, 1997. He then costarred as gun-fighter Jack Sikora in Giovanni Veronesi's adaptation of Vincenzo Pardini's novel, the Western drama comedy Mio West, Il (1998, a.k.a. Gunslinger's Revenge, with Leonardo Pieraccioni and Harvey Keitel). He also costarred in writer-director Andrew Goth's crime drama Everybody Loves Sunshine (1999) and played the regular lead role of Julian Priest (1999-2000), opposite Terence Stamp, on the vampire TV show "The Hunger."
In the new millennium, Bowie portrayed the title role of the elderly and mysterious Mr. Rice in Nicholas Kendall's family drama Mr. Rice's Secret (alongside Bill Switzer). Afterward, Bowie returned to the music scene and released the album Heathen (UK #5, US #14) on June 11, 2002, an interesting mix of nostalgia with a cutting edge. Reunited with producer Tony Visconti, the album spawned the singles "Slip Away" (a tribute to Uncle Floyd), "Slow Burn," "Sunday", "I Would Be Your Slave" and "Heathen (The Rays)." He followed it up with the next year’s album, Reality (September 16, 2003; UK #3, US #29), under the ISO label.
Bowie is currently on set and will soon complete Luc Besson's animated family fantasy movie Arthur and the Minimoys (will lend his voice for character Maltazard) and Christopher Nolan's take on Christopher Priest's 1996 novel, the thriller The Prestige. In the film, starring Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale and Michael Caine, Bowie will play inventor Nikola Tesla.
"Any list of advice I have to offer to a musician always ends with, 'If it itches, go and see a doctor.’ " David Bowie
Daytime Emmy: Outstanding Special Class Special for Hollywood Rocks the Movies: The 1970s, 2003
Grammy: Best Video (Short Form), David Bowie, 1984
MTV Video Music: Male Video, "China Girl," 1984
MTV Video Music: Vanguard Award; cited with The Beatles and Richard Lester, 1984
Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films: Golden Scroll - Best Actor, The Man Who Fell to Earth, 1977