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David Bowie died aged sixty-nine from liver cancer on 10th of January 2016 in his New York City apartment in New York, U.S.A., just two days after the release of his final album, 'Blackstar'.
David had been diagnosed eighteen months earlier but had not made the news of his illness public. The Belgian theatre director Ivo van Hove, who had worked with the singer on his Off-Broadway musical Lazarus, explained that David Bowie was unable to attend rehearsals due to the progression of the disease. He said that David Bowie had kept working during the illness.
Bowie's producer Tony Visconti wrote that David Bowie always did what he wanted to do and that he wanted to do it his way and he wanted to do it the best way and that his death was no different from his life – a work of art. He said that David made Blackstar for us, his parting gift and that he knew for a year this was the way it would be.
David Bowie was born David Robert Jones on 8th January 1947, in Brixton, South East London, UK. to his mother, Margaret and His father, Haywood Jones. David 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, David Bowie moved with his family to the suburb of Bromley, where, 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. 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. The same year, his interest in music was further stimulated when his father brought home a collection of American 45's by artists including the Teenagers, the Platters, Fats Domino, Elvis Presley and Little Richard. Upon listening to Little Richard's song "Tutti Frutti", Bowie would later say, "I had heard God".
Elvis Presley's impact on him was likewise emphatic. 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." After taking his eleven-plus exam at the conclusion of his Burnt Ash Junior education, David Bowie went to Bromley Technical High School.
David Bowie studied art, music and design, including layout and typesetting. After Terry Burns, his half-brother, 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 a local musician. David Bowie 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, his doctors determined that the damage could not be fully repaired and David Bowie was left with faulty depth perception and a permanently dilated pupil, which gave a false impression of a change in the iris' colour. Despite their altercation, Underwood and Bowie remained good friends, and Underwood went on to create the artwork for Bowie's early albums.
In 1962 David Bowie formed his first band at the age of fifteen playing guitar-based rock and roll at local youth gatherings and weddings; the Konrads had a varying line-up of between four and eight members, Underwood among them. When David 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 bandmates' limited aspirations, David 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's partner Leslie Conn led to David Bowie's first personal management contract.
Leslie Conn quickly began to promote David 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 and Willie Dixon blues numbers, David 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", Bowie was to recall. Their cover of Bobby Bland's "I Pity the Fool" was no more successful than "Liza Jane", and David Bowie soon moved on again to join the Lower Third, a blues trio strongly influenced by the Who. "You've Got a Habit of Leaving" 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", David 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". While with the Buzz, David Bowie also joined the Riot Squad; their recordings, which included a David Bowie number and the Velvet Underground material, went unreleased. Ken Pitt, introduced by Horton, took over as David Bowie's manager.
Dissatisfied with his stage name as Davy (and Davie) Jones, which in the mid-1960s invited confusion with Davy Jones of the Monkees, David renamed himself after the 19th-century American pioneer James Bowie and the knife he had popularised. His April 1967 solo single, "The Laughing Gnome", using speeded-up thus high-pitched vocals, failed to chart. Released six weeks later, his album debut, 'David Bowie', an amalgam of pop, psychedelia, and music hall, met the same fate. It was his last release for two years.
David Bowie met dancer Lindsay Kemp in 1967 and enrolled in his dance class at the London Dance Centre. He commented in 1972 that meeting Kemp was when his interest in image "really blossomed". Studying the dramatic arts under Kemp, from avant-garde theatre and mime to commedia dell'arte, David 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; another Bowie composition, "Silly Boy Blue", was released by Billy Fury the following year. In January 1968, Kemp choreographed a dance scene for a BBC play The Pistol Shot in the Theatre 625 series, and used David Bowie with a dancer, Hermione Farthingale; the pair began dating, and moved into a London flat together. Playing acoustic guitar, Farthingale formed a group with David Bowie and guitarist John Hutchinson. Between September 1968 and early 1969 the trio gave a small number of concerts combining folk, Merseybeat, poetry and mime. David Bowie and Farthingale broke up in early 1969 when she went to Norway to take part in a film, Song of Norway. This affected him, and several songs, such as "Letter to Hermione" and "Life on Mars?" reference her, and for the video accompanying "Where Are We Now?" he wore a T-shirt with the words "m/s Song of Norway". They were last together in January 1969 for the filming of Love You till Tuesday, a 30-minute film that was not released until 1984, it featured performances from Bowie's repertoire, including "Space Oddity", which had not been released when the film was made.
After his break-up with Farthingale, David Bowie moved in with Mary Finnigan as her lodger. During this period he appeared in a Lyons Maid ice cream commercial. In February and March 1969, he undertook a short tour with Marc Bolan's duo Tyrannosaurus Rex, as third on the bill, performing a mime act. On 11 July 1969, "Space Oddity" was released five days ahead of the Apollo 11 launch, and reached the top five in the UK. 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 High Street.
David Bowie's second album 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 USA release was instead titled Man of Words/Man of Music; it was reissued internationally in 1972 by RCA Records as Space Oddity. 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.
David Bowie met Angela Barnett in April 1969. They married within a year. Her impact on him was immediate, and her involvement in his career far-reaching, leaving manager Ken Pitt with limited influence which he found frustrating. Having established himself as a solo artist with "Space Oddity", David Bowie began to sense a lacking: "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, who was at the time acting as his session guitarist. A band was duly assembled. John Cambridge, a drummer David Bowie met at the Arts Lab, was joined by Tony Visconti on bass and Mick Ronson on electric guitar. Known as the Hype, the bandmates created characters for themselves and wore elaborate costumes that prefigured the glam style of the Spiders from Mars. After a disastrous opening gig at the London Roundhouse, they reverted to a configuration presenting David Bowie as a solo artist. Their initial studio work was marred by a heated disagreement between David Bowie and Cambridge over the latter's drumming style. Matters came to a head when an enraged David Bowie accused the drummer of the disturbance, exclaiming "You're fucking up my album." Cambridge summarily quit and was replaced by Mick Woodmansey. Not long after, the singer fired his manager and replaced him with Tony Defries. This resulted in years of litigation that concluded with David Bowie having to pay Pitt compensation.
The studio sessions continued and resulted in David Bowie's third album, The Man Who Sold the World (1970), which contained references to schizophrenia, paranoia and delusion. 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 USA, Mercury Records financed a coast-to-coast publicity tour across America in which David Bowie, between January and February 1971, was interviewed by radio stations and the media. Exploiting his androgynous appearance, the original cover of the UK version unveiled two months later depicted the singer wearing a dress: taking the garment with him, he wore it during interviews—to the approval of critics, including Rolling Stone's John Mendelsohn who described him as "ravishing, almost disconcertingly reminiscent of Lauren Bacall" – and in the street, to mixed reaction including laughter and, in the case of one male pedestrian, producing a gun and telling David Bowie to "kiss my ass".
During the tour, David Bowie's observation of two seminal American proto-punk artists led him to develop a concept that eventually found form in the Ziggy Stardust character: a melding of the persona of Iggy Pop with the music of Lou Reed, 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". The "Stardust" surname was a tribute to the "Legendary Stardust Cowboy", whose record he was given during the tour. David Bowie would later cover "I Took a Trip on a Gemini Space Ship" on 2002's Heathen.
'Hunky Dory' (1971) found Visconti, David Bowie's producer and bassist, supplanted in both roles by Ken Scott and Trevor Bolder respectively. The album saw the partial return of the fey pop singer of "Space Oddity", with light fare such as "Kooks", a song written for his son, Zowie , born on 30 May. Elsewhere, the album explored more serious subjects, and found David Bowie paying unusually direct homage to his influences with "Song for Bob Dylan", "Andy Warhol", and "Queen Bitch", a Velvet Underground pastiche. It was not a significant commercial success at the time.
Dressed in a striking costume, his hair dyed reddish-brown, David Bowie launched his Ziggy Stardust stage show with the Spiders from Mars—Ronson, Bolder and Woodmansey—at the Toby Jug pub in Tolworth on 10 February 1972. The show was hugely popular, catapulting him to stardom as he toured the UK over the next six months and creating, as described by Buckley, a "cult of David Bowie" that was unique. The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (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", issued as an April single ahead of the album, was to cement David Bowie's UK breakthrough: both single and album charted rapidly following his July Top of the Pops performance of the song. The album, which remained in the chart for two years, was soon joined there by the 6-month-old Hunky Dory. At the same time the non-album single "John, I'm Only Dancing", and "All the Young Dudes", a song he wrote and produced for Mott the Hoople, were successful in the UK. The Ziggy Stardust Tour continued to the United States.
David Bowie married Mary Angela Barnett on 19 March 1970 at Bromley Register Office in Bromley, London. Their son Duncan, born on 30th May 1971, was at first known as Zowie. Bowie married Mary Angela Barnett on 19 March 1970 at Bromley Register Office in Bromley, London. Their son Duncan, born on 30 May 1971, was at first known as Zowie. David Bowie and Angela divorced on 8th February 1980 in Switzerland.
David Bowie declared himself gay in an interview with Michael Watts for a 1972 issue of Melody Maker, coinciding with his campaign for stardom as Ziggy Stardust. According to Buckley, "If Ziggy confused both his creator and his audience, a big part of that confusion centred on the topic of sexuality". In a September 1976 interview with Playboy, David 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". According to his first wife, Angie, David Bowie had a relationship with Mick Jagger.
In a 1983 interview with Rolling Stone, David Bowie said his public declaration of bisexuality was "the biggest mistake I ever made" and "I was always a closet heterosexual". 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 of his own feelings. Blender asked David Bowie in 2002 whether he still believed his public declaration was his biggest mistake. After a long pause, he said, "I don't think it was a mistake in Europe, but it was a lot tougher in America. I had no problem with people knowing I was bisexual. But I had no inclination to hold any banners nor be a representative of any group of people." David Bowie said he wanted to be a songwriter and performer rather than a headline for his bisexuality, and in "puritanical" America, "I think it stood in the way of so much I wanted to do".
Buckley wrote that David Bowie "mined sexual intrigue for its ability to shock", and was probably "never gay, nor even consistently actively bisexual", instead experimenting "out of a sense of curiosity and a genuine allegiance with the 'transgressional'". Biographer Christopher Sandford said, according to Mary Finnigan—with whom David Bowie had an affair in 1969—the singer and his first wife Angie "created their bisexual fantasy". Sandford wrote that David 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 David Bowie's actual tastes swung the other way is clear from even a partial tally of his affairs with women". The BBC's Mark Easton wrote in 2016 that Britain was "far more tolerant of difference" and that gay rights, such as same-sex marriage, and gender equality would not have "enjoyed the broad support they do today without David Bowie's androgynous challenge all those years ago".
Over the years, David Bowie made numerous references to religions and to his evolving spirituality. Beginning in 1967, he showed an interest in Buddhism; after a few months' study at Tibet House in London, he was told by a Lama, "You don't want to be Buddhist. ... You should follow music". By 1975 Bowie admitted, "I felt totally, absolutely alone. And I probably was alone because I pretty much had abandoned God".
In 1976, speaking as The Thin White Duke, Bowie's persona at the time, and "at least partially tongue-in-cheek", he made statements that expressed support for fascism and perceived admiration for Adolf Hitler in interviews with Playboy, NME and a Swedish publication. David Bowie was quoted as saying: "Britain is ready for a fascist leader... I think Britain could benefit from a fascist leader. After all, fascism is really nationalism... I believe very strongly in fascism, people have always responded with greater efficiency under a regimental leadership." He was also quoted as saying: "Adolf Hitler was one of the first rock stars" and "You've got to have an extreme right front come up and sweep everything off its feet and tidy everything up." David Bowie later retracted these comments in an interview with Melody Maker in October 1977, blaming them on mental instability caused by his drug problems at the time, saying: "I was out of my mind, totally, completely crazed."
David Bowie declared himself gay in an interview with Michael Watts for a 1972 issue of Melody Maker, coinciding with his campaign for stardom as Ziggy Stardust. According to Buckley, "If Ziggy confused both his creator and his audience, a big part of that confusion centred on the topic of sexuality". In a September 1976 interview with Playboy, David 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". According to his first wife, Angie, David Bowie had a relationship with Mick Jagger.
In a 1983 interview with Rolling Stone, David Bowie said his public declaration of bisexuality was "the biggest mistake I ever made" and "I was always a closet heterosexual". 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 of his own feelings.
After David Bowie married Iman in a private ceremony in 1992, he said they knew that their "real marriage, sanctified by God, had to happen in a church in Florence". Earlier that year, he knelt on stage at The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert and recited the Lord's Prayer before a television audience of up to one billion people. In 1993, David Bowie said he had an "undying" belief in the "unquestionable" existence of God. Interviewed in 2005, David Bowie said whether God exists "is not a question that can be answered. ... I'm not quite an atheist and it worries me. There's that little bit that holds on: 'Well, I'm almost an atheist. Give me a couple of months. ... I've nearly got it right'". In his will, David Bowie stipulated that he be cremated and his ashes scattered in Bali "in accordance with the Buddhist rituals".
David Bowie contributed backing vocals to Lou Reed's 1972 solo breakthrough Transformer, co-producing the album with Mick Ronson. His own Aladdin Sane (1973) topped the UK chart, his first number-one album. Described by David Bowie as "Ziggy goes to America", it contained songs he wrote while travelling to and across the USA 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" and "Drive-In Saturday".
David Bowie's love of acting led his total immersion in the characters he created for his music. 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, David 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 loincloth or simulating oral sex with Ronson's guitar. David 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 the same year for the film Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.
After breaking up the Spiders from Mars, David Bowie attempted to move on from his Ziggy persona. His back catalogue was now highly sought after: 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 peaked at No. 3 on the UK Singles Chart. Entering the same chart in September, David Bowie's novelty record from 1967, "The Laughing Gnome", reached No. 6. Pin Ups, a collection of covers of his 1960s favourites, followed in October, producing a UK No. 3 hit in his version of the McCoys's "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 David Bowie albums concurrently on the UK chart to six.
David Bowie moved to the USA in 1974, initially staying in New York City before settling in Los Angeles. Diamond Dogs (1974), parts of which found him heading towards soul and funk, was the product of two distinct ideas: a musical based on a wild future in a post-apocalyptic city, and setting George Orwell's 1984 to music. The album went to number one in the UK, spawning the hits "Rebel Rebel" and "Diamond Dogs", and No. 5 in the US. To promote it, David Bowie launched the Diamond Dogs Tour, visiting cities in North America between June and December 1974. Choreographed by Toni Basil, and lavishly produced with theatrical special effects, the high-budget stage production was filmed by Alan Yentob. The resulting documentary, Cracked Actor, featured a pasty and emaciated Bowie: the tour coincided with the singer's slide from heavy cocaine use into addiction, producing severe physical debilitation, paranoia and emotional problems. He later commented that the accompanying live album, David Live, ought to have been titled "David Bowie Is Alive and Well and Living Only in Theory". David Live nevertheless solidified David Bowie's status as a superstar, charting at No. 2 in the UK and No. 8 in the USA. It also spawned a UK No. 10 hit in David Bowie's cover of Eddie Floyd's "Knock on Wood". After a break in Philadelphia, where Bowie recorded new material, the tour resumed with a new emphasis on soul.
The fruit of the Philadelphia recording sessions was Young Americans (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 David Bowie did now." The album's sound, which the singer identified as "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", co-written with John Lennon, who contributed backing vocals, and Carlos Alomar. Lennon called David Bowie's work "great, but it's just rock'n'roll with lipstick on". Earning the distinction of being one of the first white artists to appear on the US variety show Soul Train, David Bowie mimed "Fame", as well as "Golden Years", his November single, which was originally offered to Elvis Presley, who 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 David 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, David Bowie, in the words of Sandford, "for all his record sales 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, David Bowie's lawyer during the negotiations, became his new manager; Lippman in turn was awarded substantial compensation when David Bowie fired him the following year.
'Station to Station' (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 same year. Developing the funk and soul of Young Americans, Station to Station's synthesizer-heavy arrangements prefigured the krautrock-influenced music of his next releases. The extent to which drug addiction was now affecting David Bowie was made public when Russell Harty interviewed the singer for his London Weekend Television 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 Francisco Franco was announced. David 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 lengthy conversation with Harty, Bowie was incoherent and looked "disconnected". 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. David Bowie's positive comments about Adolf Hitler, and Eric Clapton's about immigration restrictions in 1976, led to the establishment of Rock Against Racism.
'Station to Station's January 1976 release was followed in February by a 3½-month-long 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, the ballads "Wild Is the Wind" and "Word on a Wing", and the funkier "TVC 15" and "Stay". The core band that coalesced to produce this album and tour—rhythm guitarist Carlos Alomar, bassist George Murray, and drummer Dennis Davis—continued as a stable unit for the remainder of the 1970s. The tour was highly successful but mired in political controversy. David Bowie was quoted in Stockholm as saying that "Britain could benefit from a Fascist leader", and was 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 convertible, David Bowie waved to the crowd in a gesture that some alleged was a Nazi salute, which was captured on camera and published in NME. David 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." David Bowie's cocaine addiction, which had caused these controversies, had much to do with his time living in Los Angeles, a city which alienated him hugely. Discussing his flirtations with fascism in a 1980 interview with NME, David Bowie explained that Los Angeles was "where it had all happened. The fucking place should be wiped off the face of the Earth. To be anything to do with rock and roll and go and live in Los Angeles is, I think, just heading for disaster. It really is."
David Bowie moved to Switzerland in 1976, purchasing a chalet in the hills to the north of Lake Geneva. In the new environment, his cocaine use decreased and he found time for other pursuits outside his musical career. He devoted more time to his painting, and produced 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 and the Brücke Museum in Berlin, David 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, David Bowie's interest in the burgeoning German music scene, as well as his drug addiction, prompted him to move to West Berlin to clean up and revitalise his career. There he was often seen riding a bicycle between his apartment on Hauptstraße in Schöneberg and Hansa Tonstudio, the recording studio he used, located on Köthener Straße in Kreuzberg, near the Berlin Wall. While working with Brian Eno and sharing an apartment with Iggy Pop, he began to focus on minimalist, ambient music for the first of three albums, co-produced with Tony Visconti, that became known as his Berlin Trilogy.
The album 'Low' (1977), partly influenced by the Krautrock sound of Kraftwerk and Neu!, evinced a move away from narration in David Bowie's songwriting to a more abstract musical form in which lyrics were sporadic and optional. Although he completed the album in November 1976, it took his unsettled record company another three months to release it. It received considerable negative criticism upon its release—a release which RCA, anxious to maintain the established commercial momentum, did not welcome, and which David Bowie's former 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 No. 3 single "Sound and Vision", and its own performance surpassed that of Station to Station in the UK chart, where it reached No. 2. Leading contemporary composer Philip Glass 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 Low's minimalist, instrumental approach, the second of the trilogy, "Heroes" (1977), incorporated pop and rock to a greater extent, seeing David Bowie joined by guitarist Robert Fripp. Like Low, "Heroes" evinced the zeitgeist of the Cold War, symbolised by the divided city of Berlin. Incorporating ambient sounds from a variety of sources including white noise generators, synthesisers and koto, the album was another hit, reaching Number 3 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, David Bowie performed the song for Marc Bolan's television show Marc, and again two days later for Bing Crosby's final CBS television Christmas special, when he joined Crosby in "Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy", a version of "The Little Drummer Boy" with a new, contrapuntal verse. Five years later, the duet proved a worldwide seasonal hit, charting in the UK at No. 3 on Christmas Day, 1982.
After completing Low and "Heroes", David 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 "David 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 David Bowie called his "triptych", Lodger (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 and world music, in places incorporating Hijaz non-Western scales. Some tracks were composed using Eno and Peter Schmidt's Oblique Strategies 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." 'Lodger' reached No. 4 in the UK and No. 20 in the USA and yielded the UK hit singles "Boys Keep Swinging" and "DJ". Towards the end of the year, David Bowie and Angie initiated divorce proceedings, and after months of court battles the marriage was ended in early 1980.
'Scary Monsters and Super Creeps' (1980) produced the number-one hit "Ashes to Ashes", featuring the textural work of guitar-synthesist Chuck Hammer and revisiting the character of Major Tom from "Space Oddity". The song gave international exposure to the underground New Romantic movement when David Bowie visited the London club "Blitz"—the main New Romantic hangout—to recruit several of the regulars (including Steve Strange of the band Visage) to act in the accompanying video, renowned as one of the most innovative of all time. While Scary Monsters used 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, Chuck Hammer and Pete Townshend. As "Ashes to Ashes" hit number one on the UK charts, David Bowie opened a three-month run on Broadway on 24 September, starring in The Elephant Man.
David Bowie paired with Queen in 1981 for a one-off single release, "Under Pressure". The duet was a hit, becoming Bowie's third UK number-one single. David Bowie was given the lead role in the BBC's 1982 televised adaptation of Bertolt Brecht's play Baal. Coinciding with its transmission, a five-track EP of songs from the play, recorded earlier in Berlin, was released. In March 1982, the month before Paul Schrader's film Cat People came out, David Bowie's title song, "Cat People (Putting Out Fire)", was released as a single, becoming a minor US hit and entering the UK Top 30.
David Bowie reached his peak of popularity and commercial success in 1983 with Let's Dance. Co-produced by Chic's Nile Rodgers, the album went platinum in both the UK and the US. Its three singles became Top 20 hits in both countries, where its title-track reached number one. "Modern Love" and "China Girl" each made No. 2 in the UK, accompanied by a pair of "absorbing" promotional videos that biographer David Buckley said "activated key archetypes in the pop world. 'Let's Dance', with its little narrative surrounding the young Aborigine couple, targeted 'youth', and 'China Girl', with its bare-bummed beach lovemaking scene (a homage to the film From Here to Eternity), was sufficiently sexually provocative to guarantee heavy rotation on MTV". Stevie Ray Vaughan was guest guitarist playing solo on "Let's Dance", although the video depicts David Bowie miming this part. By 1983, David Bowie had emerged as one of the most important video artists of the day. Let's Dance was followed by the Serious Moonlight Tour, during which David Bowie was accompanied by guitarist Earl Slick and backing vocalists Frank and George Simms. The world tour lasted six months and was extremely popular. At the 1984 MTV Video Music Awards David Bowie received two awards including the inaugural Video Vanguard Award.
'Tonight' (1984), another dance-oriented album, found David Bowie collaborating with Tina Turner and, once again, Iggy Pop. It included a number of cover songs, among them the 1966 Beach Boys hit "God Only Knows". The album bore the transatlantic Top 10 hit "Blue Jean", itself the inspiration for a short film that won David Bowie a Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video, "Jazzin' for Blue Jean". David Bowie performed at Wembley Stadium in 1985 for Live Aid, a multi-venue benefit concert for Ethiopian famine relief. During the event, the video for a fundraising single was premiered, David Bowie's duet with Mick Jagger. "Dancing in the Street" quickly went to number one on release. The same year, David Bowie worked with the Pat Metheny Group to record "This Is Not America" for the soundtrack of The Falcon and the Snowman. Released as a single, the song became a Top 40 hit in the UK and USA.
David Bowie was given a role in the 1986 film Absolute Beginners. It was poorly received by critics, but David Bowie's theme song, also named "Absolute Beginners", rose to No. 2 in the UK charts. He also appeared as Jareth, the Goblin King, in the 1986 Jim Henson film Labyrinth, for which he wrote five songs. His final solo album of the decade was 1987's 'Never Let Me Down', where he ditched the light sound of his previous two albums, instead offering harder rock with an industrial/techno dance edge. Peaking at Number 6 in the UK, the album yielded the hits "Day-In, Day-Out" (his 60th single), "Time Will Crawl" and "Never Let Me Down". Supporting Never Let Me Down, and preceded by nine promotional press shows, the 86-concert Glass Spider Tour commenced on 30th May. David Bowie's backing band included Peter Frampton on lead guitar. Contemporary critics maligned the tour as overproduced, saying it pandered to the current stadium rock trends in its special effects and dancing, although years after the tour's conclusion, critics acknowledged that the tour influenced how other artists performed concerts, including Britney Spears, Madonna, and U2.
David 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 came into being after David Bowie began to work experimentally with guitarist Reeves Gabrels. The line-up was completed by Tony and Hunt Sales, whom David Bowie had known since the late 1970s for their contribution, on bass and drums respectively, to Iggy Pop's 1977 album Lust For Life.
Although heintended Tin Machine to operate as a democracy, David Bowie dominated, both in songwriting and in decision-making. The band's album debut, Tin Machine (1989), was initially popular, though its politicised lyrics did not find universal approval. The album nevertheless reached No. 3 in the UK charts.
Tin Machine's first world tour was a commercial success, but there was growing reluctance—among fans and critics alike—to accept David Bowie's presentation as merely a band member. A series of Tin Machine singles failed to chart, andDavid Bowie, after a disagreement with EMI, left the label. Like his audience and his critics, David Bowie himself became increasingly disaffected with his role as just one member of a band. Tin Machine began work on a second album, but David 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 Angie, David Bowie and Somali-born supermodel Iman were introduced by a mutual friend. David Bowie recalled, "I was naming the children the night we met ... it was absolutely immediate." They married 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'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 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' failed commercially, the band drifted apart, and David Bowie, though he continued to collaborate with Gabrels, resumed his solo career.
On 20th April 1992, David Bowie appeared at The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, following the Queen singer's death the previous year. As well as performing "Heroes" and "All the Young Dudes", he was joined on "Under Pressure" by Annie Lennox, who took Mercury's vocal part; during his appearance, David Bowie knelt and recited the Lord's Prayer at Wembley Stadium. Four days later, David 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 began the day they arrived. They settled in New York instead.
In 1993, David Bowie released his first solo offering since his Tin Machine departure, the soul, jazz and hip-hop influenced 'Black Tie White Noise'. Making prominent use of electronic instruments, the album, which reunited Bowie with Let's Dance producer Nile Rodgers, confirmed David Bowie's return to popularity, hitting the number-one spot on the UK charts and spawning three Top 40 hits, including the Top 10 single "Jump They Say". David Bowie explored new directions on 'The Buddha of Suburbia' (1993), ostensibly a soundtrack album of his music composed for the BBC television adaptation of Hanif Kureishi's novel. Only the title track had been used in the television adaptation, although some of his themes for it were also present on the album. It contained some of the new elements introduced in Black Tie White Noise, and also signalled a move towards alternative rock. The album was a critical success but received a low-key release and only made Number 87 in the UK charts.
Re-uniting Bowie with Eno, the quasi-industrial 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 David Bowie, the album achieved UK and US 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' as his tour partner for the Outside Tour. Visiting cities in Europe and North America between September 1995 and February 1996, the tour saw the return of Gabrels as Bowie's guitarist.' On 7th January 1997, David Bowie celebrated his half century with a 50th birthday concert at Madison Square Garden, New York, at which he was joined in playing his songs and those of his guests, Lou Reed, Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters, Robert Smith of the Cure, Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins, Black Francis of the Pixies and Sonic Youth.
David Bowie was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on 17th January 1996. Incorporating experiments in British jungle and drum 'n' bass, Earthling (1997) was a critical and commercial success in the UK and the US, and two singles from the album – Little Wonder and Dead Man Walking – became UK Top 40 hits. David Bowie's song "I'm Afraid of Americans" from the Paul Verhoeven film Showgirls was re-recorded for the album, and remixed by Trent Reznor for a single release. The heavy rotation of the accompanying video, also featuring Trent Reznor, contributed to the song's 16-week stay in the US Billboard Hot 100. The Earthling Tour took in Europe and North America between June and November 1997. In November 1997, David Bowie performed on the BBC's Children in Need charity single "Perfect Day", which reached number one in the UK. David Bowie reunited with Visconti in 1998 to record " Sky Life" for The Rugrats Movie. Although the track was edited out of the final cut, it was later re-recorded and released as "Safe" on the B-side of David Bowie's 2002 single "Everyone Says 'Hi'". The reunion led to other collaborations including a limited-edition single release version of Placebo's track "Without You I'm Nothing", co-produced by Visconti, with David Bowie's harmonised vocal added to the original recording.
Bowie Bonds, an early example of celebrity bonds, were asset-backed securities of current and future revenues of the 25 albums (287 songs) that David Bowie recorded before 1990. Bowie Bonds were pioneered by rock and roll investment banker David Pullman. Issued in 1997, the bonds were bought for US$55 million by the Prudential Insurance Company of America. The bonds paid an interest rate of 7.9% and had an average life of ten years, a higher rate of return than a 10-year Treasury note (at the time, 6.37%). Royalties from the 25 albums generated the cash flow that secured the bonds' interest payments. Prudential also received guarantees from David Bowie's label, EMI Records, which had recently signed a $30m deal with David Bowie. By forfeiting ten years worth of royalties, David Bowie received a payment of US$55 million up front. David Bowie used this income to buy songs owned by his former manager.David Bowie's combined catalogue of albums covered by this agreement sold more than 1 million copies annually at the time of the agreement. By March 2004, Moody's Investors Service lowered the bonds from an A3 rating (the seventh highest rating) to Baa3, one notch above junk status. The downgrade was prompted by lower-than-expected revenue "due to weakness in sales for recorded music" and that an unnamed company guaranteed the issue. Nonetheless, the bonds liquidated in 2007 as originally planned, without default, and the rights to the income from the songs reverted to David Bowie.
David Bowie created the soundtrack for Omikron, 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' 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 David Bowie's exit from heavy electronica. Sessions for the planned album Toy, intended to feature new versions of some of David Bowie's earliest pieces as well as three new songs, commenced in 2000, but the album was never released. David 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.
On 25 June 2000, David Bowie made his second appearance at the Glastonbury Festival in England UK playing 30 years after his first. On 27th June, David Bowie performed a concert at BBC Radio Theatre in London, which was released in the compilation album Bowie at the Beeb, which also featured BBC recording sessions from 1968 to 1972. David Bowie and Iman's daughter was born on 15 August.
In October 2001, David Bowie opened the Concert for New York City, 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. Taking place in Europe and North America, the tour opened at London's annual Meltdown festival, for which David Bowie was that year appointed artistic director. Among the acts he selected for the festival were Philip Glass, Television and the Dandy Warhols. As well as songs from the new album, the tour featured material from David Bowie's Low era. 'Reality' (2003) followed, and its accompanying world tour, the 'A Reality Tour', with an estimated attendance of 722,000, grossed more than any other in 2004. Onstage in Oslo, Norway, on 18th June, David 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 in Scheeßel, Germany. Originally thought to be a pinched nerve in his shoulder, the pain was later diagnosed as an acutely blocked coronary artery, requiring an emergency angioplasty in Hamburg. The remaining 14 dates of the tour were cancelled. That same year, his interest in Buddhism led him to support the Tibetan cause by performing at a concert to support the New York Tibet House.
In the years following his recuperation from the heart attack, David Bowie reduced his musical output, making only one-off appearances on stage and in the studio. He sang in a duet of his 1971 song "Changes" with Butterfly Boucher for the 2004 animated film Shrek 2.
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. He returned to the stage on 8th 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 backing vocals on TV on the Radio's song "Province" for their album Return to Cookie Mountain, made a commercial with Snoop Dogg for XM Satellite Radio and joined with Lou Reed on Danish alt-rockers Kashmir's 2005 album No Balance Palace.
David Bowie was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award on 8th 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's 29th May concert at the Royal Albert Hall 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, at the Black Ball, a New York benefit event for Keep a Child Alive, a performance marking the last time David Bowie performed his music on stage.
David Bowie was chosen to curate the 2007 High Line Festival, selecting musicians and artists for the Manhattan event, including electronic pop duo AIR, surrealist photographer Claude Cahun and English comedian Ricky Gervais. David Bowie performed on Scarlett Johansson's 2008 album of Tom Waits covers, Anywhere I Lay My Head.[ On the 40th anniversary of the July 1969 moon landing—and David 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 double album of live material from the 2003 concert tour, was released in January 2010. In late March 2011, Toy, David 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.
On 8th January 2013, his 66th birthday, his website announced a new album, to be titled The Next Day and scheduled for release 8th March for Australia, 12th March for the United States and 11th March for the rest of the world. David Bowie's first studio album in a decade, 'The Next Day' contains 14 songs plus 3 bonus tracks. His website acknowledged the length of his hiatus. Record producer Tony Visconti said 29 tracks were recorded for the album, some of which could appear on David Bowie's next record, which he might start work on later in 2013. The announcement was accompanied by the immediate release of a single, "Where Are We Now?", written and recorded by David Bowie in New York and produced by longtime collaborator Visconti.
A music video for "Where Are We Now?" was released onto Vimeo the same day, directed by New York artist Tony Oursler. The single topped the UK iTunes Chart within hours of its release, and debuted in the UK Singles Chart at No. 6,[ his first single to enter the Top 10 for two decades. A second video, "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)", was released 25th February. Directed by Floria Sigismondi, it stars David Bowie and Tilda Swinton as a married couple. On 1st March, the album was made available to stream for free through iTunes. The Next Day debuted at Number 1 on the UK Albums Chart, was his first album to achieve that position since Black Tie White Noise (1993), and was the fastest-selling album of 2013 at the time. The music video for the song "The Next Day" created some controversy, initially being removed from YouTube for terms-of-service violation, then restored with a warning recommending viewing only by those 18 or over.
According to The Times, David Bowie ruled out ever giving an interview again. An exhibition of David Bowie artefacts, called "David Bowie Is", was organised by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and shown there in 2013. The London exhibition was visited by 311,956 people, making it one of the most successful exhibitions ever staged at the museum. Later that year the exhibition began a world tour, starting in Toronto and including stops in Chicago, Paris, Melbourne, and Groningen. David Bowie was featured in a cameo vocal in the Arcade Fire song "Reflektor". A poll carried out by BBC History Magazine, in October 2013, named Bowie as the best-dressed Briton in history.
At the 2014 Brit Awards on 19 February, David Bowie became the oldest recipient of a Brit Award in the ceremony's history when he won the award for Best British Male, which was collected on his behalf by Kate Moss. His speech read: "I'm completely delighted to have a Brit for being the best male – but I am, aren't I Kate? Yes. I think it's a great way to end the day. Thank you very, very much and Scotland stay with us." David Bowie's reference to the forthcoming September 2014 Scottish independence referendum garnered a significant reaction throughout the UK on social media. On 18th July, David Bowie indicated that future music would be forthcoming, though he was vague about details.
New information was released in September 2014 regarding his next compilation album, ,Nothing Has Changed', which was released in November. The album featured rare tracks and old material from his catalogue in addition to a new song titled "Sue (Or in a Season of Crime)". In May 2015, "Let's Dance" was announced to be reissued as a yellow vinyl single in conjunction with the "David Bowie is" exhibition at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne, Australia.
In August 2015, it was announced that David Bowie was writing songs for a Broadway musical based on the SpongeBob SquarePants cartoon series. David Bowie wrote and recorded the opening title song to the television series The Last Panthers, which aired in November 2015. The theme that was used for The Last Panthers was also the title track for his January 2016 release 'Blacksta'r which is said to take cues from his earlier krautrock influenced work. According to The Times: "Blackstar may be the oddest work yet from David Bowie". On 7th December 2015, David Bowie's musical 'Lazarus' debuted in New York. His last public appearance was at opening night of the production.
Blackstar was released on 8th January 2016, David Bowie's 69th birthday, and was met with critical acclaim. Following his death on 10th January, producer Tony Visconti revealed that David Bowie had planned the album to be his swan song, and a "parting gift" for his fans before his death. Several reporters and critics subsequently noted that most of the lyrics on the album seem to revolve around his impending death, with CNN noting that the album "reveals a man who appears to be grappling with his own mortality". Visconti later said that David Bowie had been planning a post-Blackstar album, and had written and recorded demo versions of five songs in his final weeks, suggesting that he believed he had a few months left. The day following his death, online viewing of David Bowie's music skyrocketed, breaking the record for Vevo's most viewed artist in a single day. On 15th January, Blackstar debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart; nineteen of his albums were in the UK Top 100 Albums Chart, and thirteen singles were in the UK Top 100 Singles Chart. Blackstar also debuted at number one on album charts around the world, including Australia, France, Germany, Italy, New Zealand and the US Billboard 200. At the 59th Annual Grammy Awards, David Bowie won all five nominated awards: Best Rock Performance; Best Alternative Music Album; Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical; Best Recording Package; and Best Rock Song. The wins marked David Bowie's first ever in musical categories.
The beginnings of Bowie's acting career predate his commercial breakthrough as a musician. Studying avant-garde theatre and mime under Lindsay Kemp, 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 (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's 1966 comic novel The Virgin Soldiers saw David 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, directed by Nicolas Roeg. Just a Gigolo (1979), an Anglo-German co-production directed by David Hemmings, saw David Bowie in the lead role as Prussian officer Paul von Przygodski, who, returning from World War I, is discovered by a Baroness (Marlene Dietrich) and put into her Gigolo Stable.
David Bowie played Joseph Merrick in the Broadway theatre production The Elephant Man, which he undertook wearing no stage make-up, and which earned high praise for his expressive performance. He played the part 157 times between 1980 and 1981. Christiane F. – We Children from Bahnhof Zoo, a 1981 biographical film focusing on a young girl's drug addiction in West Berlin, featured Bowie in a cameo appearance as himself at a concert in Germany. Its soundtrack album, Christiane F. (1981), featured much material from his Berlin Trilogy albums. David Bowie starred in The Hunger (1983), with Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon. In Nagisa Oshima's film the same year, Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, based on Laurens van der Post's novel The Seed and the Sower, David Bowie played Major Jack Celliers, a prisoner of war in a Japanese internment camp. Bowie had a cameo in Yellowbeard, a 1983 pirate comedy created by Monty Python members, and a small part as Colin, the hitman in the 1985 film Into the Night. He declined to play the villain Max Zorin in the James Bond film A View to a Kill (1985).
Absolute Beginners (1986), a rock musical film adapted from Colin MacInnes' book of the same name about life in late 1950s London, featured Bowie's music and presented him with a minor acting role. The same year, Jim Henson's dark fantasy Labyrinth found him with the part of Jareth, the king of the goblins. Two years later, he played Pontius Pilate in Martin Scorsese's 1988 film The Last Temptation of Christ. David Bowie portrayed a disgruntled restaurant employee opposite Rosanna Arquette in The Linguini Incident (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 in Basquiat, artist/director Julian Schnabel's 1996 biopic of Jean-Michel Basquiat, and co-starred in Giovanni Veronesi's Spaghetti Western Il Mio West (1998, released as Gunslinger's Revenge 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 (1999), and appeared in the television horror series of The Hunger. In Mr. Rice's Secret (2000), he played the title role as the neighbour of a terminally ill 12-year-old, and the following year appeared as himself in Zoolander.
David Bowie portrayed physicist Nikola Tesla in Christopher Nolan's film The Prestige (2006), which was about the bitter rivalry between two magicians in the late 19th century. In the same year, he voice-acted in the animated film Arthur and the Invisibles as the powerful villain Maltazard and appeared as himself in an episode of the Ricky Gervais television series Extras. In 2007, he lent his voice to the character Lord Royal Highness in the SpongeBob's Atlantis SquarePantis television film. In the 2008 film August, directed by Austin Chick, he played a supporting role as Ogilvie, alongside Josh Hartnett and Rip Torn, with whom he had worked in the 1976 film The Man Who Fell to Earth.
From the time of his earliest recordings in the 1960s, David Bowie employed a wide variety of musical styles. His early compositions and performances were strongly influenced by rock and rollers like Little Richard and Elvis Presley, and also the wider world of show business. He particularly strove to emulate the British musical theatre singer-songwriter and actor Anthony Newley, whose vocal style he frequently adopted, and made prominent use of for his 1967 debut release, David Bowie (to the disgust of Newley himself, who destroyed the copy he received from Bowie's publisher). David Bowie's music hall 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 role playing is evident: historiographer Michael Campbell says that Bowie's lyrics "arrest our ear, without question. But David Bowie continually shifts from person to person as he delivers them ... His voice changes dramatically from section to section." In a 2014 analysis of 77 "top" artists' vocal ranges, Bowie was 8th, just behind Christina Aguilera and just ahead of Paul McCartney. In addition to the guitar, Bowie also played keyboards, harmonica, saxophone, stylophone, viola, cello, koto, thumb piano, drums and percussion.
Following David Bowie's death, fans gathered at impromptu street shrines. At the mural of Bowie in his birthplace of Brixton, south London, which shows him in his Aladdin Sane character, fans laid flowers and sang his songs. Other memorial sites included Berlin, Los Angeles, and outside his apartment in New York. After news of his death, sales of his albums and singles soared.David Bowie had insisted that he did not want a funeral, and according to his death certificate he was cremated in New Jersey on 12 January.
On 7th January 2017 the BBC broadcast the 90-minute documentary David Bowie: The Last Five Years, taking a detailed look at David Bowie's last albums, The Next Day and Blackstar, and his play Lazarus. On 8 January 2017, which would have been Bowie's 70th birthday, a charity concert in his birthplace of Brixton was hosted by the actor Gary Oldman, a close friend. A David Bowie walking tour through Brixton was also launched, and other events marking his birthday weekend included concerts in New York, Los Angeles, Sydney and Tokyo.
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