Brixton, London, England
Claim to Fame
Pop/Rock, Clinical, Classical Music Entry
Hard Rock, Glam Rock, Contemporary Pop/Rock, Proto-Punk, Experimental Rock, Alternative/ Indie Rock, Album Rock, Art Rock, Blue-Eyed Soul, R&B, Dance-Rock
Brooding, Eerie, Stylish, Clinical, Eccentric, Rebellious, Wry, Nocturnal, Elegant, Sophisticated, Cerebral, Literate, Detached, Theatrical, Quirky, Tense/Anxious, Provocative, Playful, Complex, Lush, Enigmatic
Keyboards, Saxophone, Guitar
David Robert Jones (8 January 1947 – 10 January 2016), known professionally as David Bowie (), was an English singer, songwriter and actor. He was a leading figure in the music industry and is often considered to be one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, acclaimed by critics and fellow 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 140 million albums 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, releasing 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.
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Profile Bio Text
David Robert Jones (8 January 1947 – 10 January 2016), known professionally as David Bowie), was an English singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, arranger, painter and actor. He was a figure in popular music for over four decades, and was considered by critics and other musicians as an innovator, particularly for his work in the 1970s. His androgynous appearance was an iconic element of his image, principally in the 1970s and 1980s.
Born and raised in Brixton, south London, Bowie developed an early interest in music although his attempts to succeed as a pop star during much of the 1960s were frustrated. "Space Oddity" became his first top five entry on the UK Singles Chart after its release in July 1969. After a three-year 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 his single "Starman" and album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Bowie's impact at that time, as described by biographer David Buckley, "challenged the core belief of the rock music of its day" and "created perhaps the biggest cult in popular culture". The relatively short-lived Ziggy persona proved to be one facet of a career marked by reinvention, musical innovation and visual presentation.
In 1975, Bowie achieved his first major American crossover success with the number-one single "Fame" and the album Young Americans, which the singer characterized as "plastic soul". The sound constituted a radical shift in style that initially alienated many of his UK devotees. He then confounded the expectations of both his record label and his American audiences by recording the electronic-inflected album Low, the first of three collaborations with Brian Eno. Low (1977), "Heroes" (1977), and Lodger (1979)—the so-called "Berlin Trilogy" albums—all 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 then reached a new commercial peak in 1983 with Let's Dance, which yielded several successful singles. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Bowie continued to experiment with musical styles, including blue-eyed soul, industrial, adult contemporary, and jungle. Bowie also had a successful, but sporadic film career. His acting roles include the eponymous character in The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), Major Celliers in Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983), Jareth, the Goblin King in Labyrinth (1986), Pontius Pilate in Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), and Nikola Tesla in The Prestige (2006), among other film and television appearances and cameos.
Bowie stopped touring after his 2003–04 Reality Tour, and last performed live at a charity event in 2006. On 8 January 2016, the date of Bowie's 69th birthday, his final studio album Blackstar was released; he died two days later. David Buckley said of Bowie: "His influence has been unique in popular culture—he has permeated and altered more lives than any comparable figure." In the BBC's 2002 poll of the 100 Greatest Britons, Bowie was placed at number 29. Throughout his career, he sold an estimated 140 million records worldwide. In the UK, he was awarded nine Platinum album certifications, eleven Gold and eight Silver, and in the US, five Platinum and seven Gold certifications. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.
Bowie was born in Brixton, south London. His mother, Margaret Mary "Peggy" (née Burns), from Kent, worked as a waitress, while his father, Haywood Stenton "John" Jones, from Yorkshire, was a promotions officer for the children's charity Barnardo's. The family lived at 40 Stansfield Road, near the border of the south London areas of Brixton and Stockwell. 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.
In 1953 Bowie moved with his family to the suburb of Bromley, where, two years later, he progressed to 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 45s by artists including Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, the Platters, Fats Domino, Elvis Presley and Little Richard. Upon listening to "Tutti Frutti", Bowie would later say, "I had heard God". Presley's impact on him was likewise emphatic: "I saw a cousin of mine dance to ... 'Hound Dog' and I had never seen her get up and be moved so much by anything. It really impressed me, the power of the music. I started getting records immediately after that." By the end of the following year he had taken up the ukulele and tea-chest bass and 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."Failing his eleven plus exam at the conclusion of his Burnt Ash Junior education, Bowie joined Bromley Technical High School.
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.
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 plastic alto saxophone in 1961; he was soon receiving lessons from a local musician. 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. Doctors feared he would become blind in that eye. After a series of operations during a four-month hospitalisation, his doctors determined that the damage could not be fully repaired and Bowie was left with faulty depth perception and a permanently dilated pupil. Despite their altercation, Underwood and Bowie remained good friends, and Underwood went on to create the artwork for Bowie's early albums.
Bowie married Mary Angela Barnett (also known as Angie Bowie) on 19 March 1970 at Bromley Register Office on Beckenham Lane, Bromley, London. They had a son together, Duncan, a film director, and divorced on 8 February 1980 in Switzerland.
Buckley writes, "If Ziggy confused both his creator and his audience, a big part of that confusion centred on the topic of sexuality." Bowie declared himself gay in an interview with Michael Watts in the 22 January 1972 issue of Melody Maker, a move which coincided with the first shots in his campaign for stardom as Ziggy Stardust. In a September 1976 interview with Playboy, 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, Bowie had a relationship with Mick Jagger.
In a 1983 interview with Rolling Stone, 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 his own feelings; as described by Buckley, he said he had been driven more by "a compulsion to flout moral codes than a real biological and psychological state of being."
Asked in 2002 by Blender whether he still believed his public declaration was the biggest mistake he ever made, he replied: interesting. [Long pause] 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. I knew what I wanted to be, which was a songwriter and a performer, and I felt that bisexuality became my headline over here for so long. America is a very puritanical place, and I think it stood in the way of so much I wanted to do.
Buckley's view of the period is that Bowie, "a taboo-breaker and a dabbler ... mined sexual intrigue for its ability to shock", and that "it is probably true that Bowie was never gay, nor even consistently actively bisexual ... he did, from time to time, experiment, even if only out of a sense of curiosity and a genuine allegiance with the 'transgressional.'" Biographer Christopher Sandford says that according to Mary Finnigan, with whom Bowie had an affair in 1969, the singer and his first wife Angie "lived in a fantasy world ... and they created their bisexual fantasy. Sandford tells how, during the marriage, 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 Bowie's actual tastes swung the other way is clear from even a partial tally of his affairs with women."
On 24 April 1992, David Bowie married Somali-American model Iman in a private ceremony in Lausanne. The wedding was later solemnized on 6 June in Florence. They had one daughter, Alexandria "Lexi" Zahra Jones, born in August 2000.The couple resided primarily in New York City and London, as well as owning an apartment in Sydney.
Regarding religion, in 2005 he said, "Questioning my spiritual life has always been germane to what I was writing. Always." He added that he was bothered by being "not quite an atheist". In the Esquire interview "What I've Learned", he stated, "I'm in awe of the universe, but I don't necessarily believe there's an intelligence or agent behind it. I do have a passion for the visual in religious rituals, though, even though they may be completely empty and bereft of substance. The incense is powerful and provocative, whether Buddhist or Catholic."
Bowie showed an interest in Buddhism that began in 1967. He frequently studied in London under the Tibetan Lama Chime Rinpoche before becoming a solo artist. During a 2001 interview, Bowie claimed that "after a few months of study, he told me, 'You don't want to be Buddhist ... You should follow music.'" Bowie later wrote the song "Silly Boy Blue" in tribute to Rinpoche on his 1967 album David Bowie. Bowie also became a student of the crazy wisdom Tulku Chögyam Trungpa.
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. 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." 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." In the Melody Maker interview, he claimed to be apolitical, stating: "The more I travel and the less sure I am about exactly which political philosophies are commendable. The more government systems I see, the less enticed I am to give my allegiance to any set of people, so it would be disastrous for me to adopt a definitive point of view, or to adopt a party of people and say 'these are my people'".
In 1990, Queen and Bowie filed a lawsuit against American rapper Vanilla Ice for copying the bass line of "Under Pressure" with only minor modifications in his song "Ice Ice Baby". The dispute was later resolved with an undisclosed out-of-court settlement.
On 10 January 2016, two days after releasing the album Blackstar on his 69th birthday, Bowie died from cancer at his New York home. He had been diagnosed with the malignancy eighteen months earlier, but had not made public the news of his illness. Belgian theatre director Ivo van Hove, who worked with the singer on his Off-Broadway musical Lazarus, explained that Bowie was unable to attend rehearsals due to progression of the disease. He noted that "Bowie was still writing on his deathbed, I saw a man fighting. He fought like a lion and kept working like a lion through it all."
Bowie's producer Tony Visconti wrote: He always did what he wanted to do. And he wanted to do it his way and he wanted to do it the best way. His death was no different from his life – a work of Art. He made Blackstar for us, his parting gift. I knew for a year this was the way it would be. I wasn't, however, prepared for it. He was an extraordinary man, full of love and life. He will always be with us. For now, it is appropriate to cry.
Bromley Technical High School, London, England
Full Name at Birth
David Robert Jones
Haywood Stenton "John" Jones (promotions officer)
Margaret Mary "Peggy" (cinema usherette)
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Musician, Songwriter, Actor, Record producer
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Music Profile Complete
Terry Jones (step brother)
Rock, Art Rock, Glam Rock, Pop, Experimental Rock
Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards, Saxophone
Deram, RCA, Virgin, EMI, ISO, Columbia, BMG, PYE, Vocalion, Parlophone
Carlos Alomar, The Riot Squad, Arnold Corns, Tin Machine, The Hype, Iggy Pop, Brian Eno, Lou Reed
Imam (wife), Alexandria Zahra Jones ( daughter), Duncan Jones (son)
Adrian Belew, Mick Ronson
John Lennon, Queen, Trent Reznor, Mick Jagger
Cause of Death
Place of Death
Manhattan, New York
Nine Inch Nails, Tina Turner
Tony Visconti, Mott the Hoople
Different Eye Color (blue-green)
Arcade Fire, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Reeves Gabrels
Ashes scattered in Bali