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Who is David Bowie?

By Kathy Hawkins
Updated Mar 06, 2024
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David Bowie is an English musician, famous for his innovative work from the 1970s through today. He frequently adopted various personas for each album; the most famous is that of Ziggy Stardust, a bisexual alien. Along with bands like T Rex, David Bowie was one of the primary members of the 1970s "glam rock" movement, which was famous for high-energy rock music and sexual ambiguity.

David Bowie was born as David Robert Jones in London, in 1947. He changed his name to avoid confusion with the Monkees singer, Davey Jones, and chose the last name of "Bowie" after the Bowie knife. Bowie was interested in music from a young age, and recorded his first album in 1967. The album, simply called David Bowie, was a commercial failure.

David Bowie's first musical success came in 1969, with the release of the single "Space Oddity." His next release, 1971's "Hunky Dory," brought more commercial acclaim with the success of a single called "Changes."

However, Bowie's real breakthrough occurred in 1972, with the release of his legendary concept album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. The album produced numerous classic songs, including "Ziggy Stardust," "Five Years," and "Suffragette City." On the tour for the Ziggy Stardust album, Bowie dressed in drag and wore a bright red wig. He made headlines for publicly acknowledging his bisexuality.

Since that time, David Bowie has met with much critical and commercial success for albums including Aladdin Sane, Diamond Dogs, Young Americans, and many others. He performed duets with artists ranging from Bing Crosby to Queen's Freddie Mercury. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.

David Bowie has also acted in numerous films throughout his long career. In The Hunger, which also starred Susan Sarandon and Catherine Deneuve, Bowie played a vampire. He also played a goblin king in the classic Jim Henson film, Labyrinth, in 1986. Most recently, he appeared in 2006's The Prestige.

A 1998 film called Velvet Goldmine is loosely based on David Bowie's early life and his associations with the world of glam rock. The film focuses on the relationship between the Bowie character and a character played by Ewan McGregor, based on the punk singer, Iggy Pop. David Bowie is married to Iman, a former model from Somalia. They have a daughter, Alexis, and live in Manhattan, New York.

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Discussion Comments

By OceanSwimmer — On Nov 11, 2010

@dinoleash: David Bowie has been in 10 different bands over the years. They are: The Konrads, The Hooker Brothers, The King Bees, The Manish Boys, The Lower Third, The Buzz, The Riot Squad, The Hype, Tin Machine, and Tao Jones Index.

Bing Crosby’s last single was recorded with David Bowie. They did a duet of The Little Drummer Boy. It was recorded in 1977 and became a hit 5 years later.

By SnowyWinter — On Nov 11, 2010

@dinoleash: David Bowie is an icon. I agree with your mom! There are a few things that weren’t listed in the article that I might be able to help you out with.

When Bowie was in high school, rock guitarist Peter Frampton was one of his closest friends. Bowie’s right pupil is permanently dilated due to a friend punching him in the eye at school. David Bowie started playing the saxophone at the age of 12.

Bowie seemed to have unfortunate luck sometimes. He was hit in the eye by a lollipop during a concert in Oslo, Norway in 2004. Bowie has also worked doing a voiceover in an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants.

By DinoLeash — On Nov 11, 2010

I am doing a research paper in my band class on music from the 70's and 80's. I got assigned David Bowie. I don't know a whole lot about him, however my mom loves him! I am looking for more information if anyone can help me out. Thanks.

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