David Bowie

David Bowie
Bowie smiling
Bowie in Tinley Park, Illinois, during the Heathen Tour, 2002
David Robert Jones

(1947-01-08)8 January 1947
Brixton, London, England
Died10 January 2016(2016-01-10) (aged 69)
Resting placeAshes scattered in Bali[1]
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • actor
Years active
  • 1962–2016
Children2, including Duncan Jones
Musical career
  • Vocals
  • guitar
  • keyboards
  • saxophone
  • harmonica
Associated acts

David Robert Jones (8 January 1947 – 10 January 2016), known professionally as David Bowie (i/ BOH-ee),[2] was an English singer-songwriter and actor. He was a leading figure in the music industry and is considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, acclaimed by critics and musicians, particularly for his innovative work during the 1970s. His career was marked by reinvention and visual presentation, with his music and stagecraft having a significant impact on popular music. During his lifetime, his record sales, estimated at over 100 million records worldwide, made him one of the world's best-selling music artists. In the UK, he was awarded ten platinum album certifications, eleven gold and eight silver, and released eleven number-one albums. In the US, he received five platinum and nine gold certifications. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.

Born in Brixton, South London, Bowie developed an interest in music as a child, eventually studying art, music and design before embarking on a professional career as a musician in 1963. "Space Oddity" became his first top-five entry on the UK Singles Chart after its release in July 1969. After a period of experimentation, he re-emerged in 1972 during the glam rock era with his flamboyant and androgynous alter ego Ziggy Stardust. The character was spearheaded by the success of his single "Starman" and album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, which won him widespread popularity. In 1975, Bowie's style shifted radically towards a sound he characterised as "plastic soul", initially alienating many of his UK devotees but garnering him his first major US crossover success with the number-one single "Fame" and the album Young Americans. In 1976, Bowie starred in the cult film The Man Who Fell to Earth, directed by Nicolas Roeg, and released Station to Station. The following year, he further confounded musical expectations with the electronic-inflected album Low (1977), the first of three collaborations with Brian Eno that came to be known as the "Berlin Trilogy". "Heroes" (1977) and Lodger (1979) followed; each album reached the UK top five and received lasting critical praise.

After uneven commercial success in the late 1970s, Bowie had UK number ones with the 1980 single "Ashes to Ashes", its parent album Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps), and "Under Pressure", a 1981 collaboration with Queen. He reached his commercial peak in 1983 with Let's Dance; the album's title track topped both UK and US charts. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Bowie continued to experiment with musical styles, including industrial and jungle. He also continued acting; his roles included Major Jack Celliers in Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983), Jareth the Goblin King in Labyrinth (1986), Pontius Pilate in The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), and Nikola Tesla in The Prestige (2006), among other film and television appearances and cameos. He stopped touring after 2004 and his last live performance was at a charity event in 2006. In 2013, Bowie returned from a decade-long recording hiatus with The Next Day. He remained musically active until he died of liver cancer at his home in New York City, two days after his 69th birthday and the release of his final album, Blackstar (2016).

Early life

Bowie was born David Robert Jones on 8 January 1947 in Brixton, London. His mother, Margaret Mary "Peggy" (née Burns; 2 October 1913 – 2 April 2001),[3][4] was born at Shorncliffe Army Camp near Cheriton, Kent.[5] Her paternal grandparents were Irish immigrants who had settled in Manchester.[6] She worked as a waitress at a cinema in Royal Tunbridge Wells.[7] His father, Haywood Stenton "John" Jones (21 November 1912 – 5 August 1969),[3][4] was from Doncaster, Yorkshire[8] and worked as a promotions officer for the children's charity Barnardo's. The family lived at 40 Stansfield Road, on the boundary between Brixton and Stockwell in the south London borough of Lambeth. 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.[9]

In 1953, Bowie moved with his family to Bromley. Two years later, he started attending Burnt Ash Junior School. His voice was considered "adequate" by the school choir, and he demonstrated above-average abilities in playing the recorder.[10] At the age of nine, his dancing during the newly-introduced music and movement classes was strikingly imaginative: teachers called his interpretations "vividly artistic" and his poise "astonishing" for a child.[10] The same year, his interest in music was further stimulated when his father brought home a collection of American 45s by artists including the Teenagers, the Platters, Fats Domino, Elvis Presley, and Little Richard.[11][12] Upon listening to Little Richard's song "Tutti Frutti", Bowie would later say that he had "heard God".[13]

Bowie was first impressed with Presley when he saw his cousin dance to "Hound Dog".[12] By the end of the following year, he had taken up the ukulele and tea-chest bass, begun to participate in skiffle sessions with friends, and had started to play the piano; meanwhile, his stage presentation of numbers by both Presley and Chuck Berry—complete with gyrations in tribute to the original artists—to his local Wolf Cub group was described as "mesmerizing ... like someone from another planet".[12] After taking his eleven-plus exam at the conclusion of his Burnt Ash Junior education, Bowie went to Bromley Technical High School.[14]

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

Despite its status it was, by the time David arrived in 1958, as rich in arcane ritual as any [English] public school. There were houses named after eighteenth-century statesmen like Pitt and Wilberforce. There was a uniform, and an elaborate system of rewards and punishments. There was also an accent on languages, science and particularly design, where a collegiate atmosphere flourished under the tutorship of Owen Frampton. In David's account, Frampton led through force of personality, not intellect; his colleagues at Bromley Tech were famous for neither, and yielded the school's most gifted pupils to the arts, a regime so liberal that Frampton actively encouraged his own son, Peter, to pursue a musical career with David, a partnership briefly intact thirty years later.[14]

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

Other Languages
Afrikaans: David Bowie
Alemannisch: David Bowie
العربية: ديفيد بوي
aragonés: David Bowie
asturianu: David Bowie
azərbaycanca: Devid Boui
تۆرکجه: دیوید بویی
Bân-lâm-gú: David Bowie
башҡортса: Дэвид Боуи
беларуская: Дэвід Боўі
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Дэйвід Боўі
भोजपुरी: डेविड बोवी
Bikol Central: David Bowie
български: Дейвид Боуи
Boarisch: David Bowie
bosanski: David Bowie
brezhoneg: David Bowie
català: David Bowie
Чӑвашла: Боуи Дэвид
čeština: David Bowie
Cymraeg: David Bowie
Deutsch: David Bowie
emiliàn e rumagnòl: David Bowie
español: David Bowie
Esperanto: David Bowie
euskara: David Bowie
føroyskt: David Bowie
français: David Bowie
Gaeilge: David Bowie
galego: David Bowie
հայերեն: Դեյվիդ Բոուի
Արեւմտահայերէն: Տէյվիտ Պոուի
हिन्दी: डेविड बोवी
hornjoserbsce: David Bowie
hrvatski: David Bowie
Ilokano: David Bowie
Bahasa Indonesia: David Bowie
interlingua: David Bowie
íslenska: David Bowie
italiano: David Bowie
ქართული: დეივიდ ბოუი
қазақша: Дэвид Боуи
Latina: David Bowie
latviešu: Deivids Bovijs
Lëtzebuergesch: David Bowie
lietuvių: David Bowie
Limburgs: David Bowie
lumbaart: David Bowie
magyar: David Bowie
македонски: Дејвид Боуви
Malagasy: David Bowie
მარგალური: დევიდ ბოუი
Bahasa Melayu: David Bowie
Nederlands: David Bowie
norsk nynorsk: David Bowie
occitan: David Bowie
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: David Bowie
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਡੇਵਿਡ ਬੋਵੀ
Piemontèis: David Bowie
Plattdüütsch: David Bowie
polski: David Bowie
português: David Bowie
română: David Bowie
Runa Simi: David Bowie
русский: Боуи, Дэвид
sicilianu: David Bowie
Simple English: David Bowie
slovenčina: David Bowie
slovenščina: David Bowie
ślůnski: David Bowie
српски / srpski: Дејвид Боуи
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: David Bowie
svenska: David Bowie
татарча/tatarça: Devid Bowi
Türkçe: David Bowie
українська: Девід Бові
Tiếng Việt: David Bowie
West-Vlams: David Bowie
Winaray: David Bowie
粵語: 大衛寶兒
Zazaki: David Bowie