Thursday, January 28, 2010

#7 The Thin White Duke himself... David Bowie

The year was 1966 and a young man named David Robert Jones went to London's UFO club to see local psychedelic band 'The Pink Floyd'. As young David listened and watched the lead singer Syd Barrett, with his wild, tangled hair singing of transvestites and gnomes and play, he remarked to himself that he had never seen a man on stage wearing dark eye makeup the way Syd did. Through the influence their music and Syd's image and stage presence had upon him, David would go on to become one of the greatest and most influential Rock icons in all of Rock history. In late 1966 he chose "Bowie" for his stage name, after the Alamo hero ' Jim Bowie' and his famous 'Bowie Knife'. David Bowie was born there in the underground clubs of mid sixties London.

One of the Hallmarks of all Rock performers is to create a singular image that defines them as an artist. David Bowie, as a musician, performer and song writer defies this convention completely. He would become known throughout his career for continuously re-inventing himself and his art at seemingly sound breaking speeds. He has gathered a lot of criticism over the years for his seemingly total disregard for music genre loyalty and his love for combining the most un-likely sorts of music styles with his 'end of days' subject matter. While the critics may have at first despised him for this, in time they began to praise him for it. He would painstakingly create these often legendary characters only to completely deconstruct them in order to make way for a new one.

In 1969, Bowie had his first hit with his 'Space Oddity' about a 'Major Tom' going on a journey to space. This is one of my fave Bowie songs of all time. It has a great melody and is a very mellow song about adventuring in space. What's not to like about psychedelic astronaut songs? Of course, it is always up for interpretation:
-It can be seen as a story of an astronaut that has become lost, far from home and can no longer see any hope in human race. Feeling estranged not wanting to return home, he decides to get lost in eternal space.
-Or you can see it as a big metaphor for some serious hard drug use (it WAS 1969, and this is Bowie we are talking about.. just saying...).

His history of drug use reads like a primer on debauchery. Bowie has been quoted saying "It left me with emotional damage. My mind is like Swiss cheese. There are unbelievable holes in my memory" from substance abuse, and explained that he "can't remember, for instance, any of 1975." When his buddy, fellow rocker Iggy Pop was in a psychiatric hospital in 1975, Bowie and actor Dennis Hopper smuggled drugs inside. Bowie later recalled: "We thought we should bring him some drugs, because he probably hadn't had any for days."
His Heroin and Cocaine use were legendary in the 70's. At one point Bowie admitted that during a portion of 1974 he survived on a diet of Red Peppers, Cocaine and Milk. During this peak of his drug taking the 5'10" rock star weighed a meager 95 lbs.

His fame really started taking off with the release of the incredible album 'Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars'. The Ziggy Stardust character became the basis for Bowie's first large-scale tour beginning in 1972, where he donned his famous flaming red mullet and wild outfits. The tour featured a three-piece band representing The Spiders from Mars: Mick Ronson on guitar,Trevor Bolder on bass, and Woody Woodmansey on drums. (Had to show Ziggy Stardust Bowie... its classic).

This was Bowie’s first tour to visit the US, making his first appearance on 22 September 1972 at Music Hall in Cleavland Ohio. The album made number five in the UK on the strength of the number ten placing of the single 'Starman'. Their success made Bowie a star, and soon the six-month-old 'Hunky Dory' eclipsed 'Ziggy Stardust'.

The Facts:

-The David Bowie Discography is comprised of 25 studio albums, 8 live albums and 45 compilation albums and sets.
-Many different incarnations including: Ziggy Stardust; Aladdin Sane, Halloween Jack, The Thin White Duke and even as Jared the Goblin King!
-All Hail Sir Bowie! (Sir David was knighted in 2003)
-Rocking on. David was inducted into the rock and roll hall of fame in 1996.
-ApresentaĆ§Ć£o Sr. Bowie! (in 2005, Brazilian musician Seu Jorje did the soundtrack for the Wes Anderson film "The Life Aquatic" which featured a soundtrack of Bowie covers in Portuguese!
-My orange tabby cat is named 'David Bowie'

My Fave Album

-My fave album would have to be 'Ziggy Stardust'
The album presents, albeit vaguely, the story of "Ziggy Stardust," the human manifestation of an alien being who is attempting to present humanity with a message of hope in the last five years of its existence. Ziggy Stardust is the definitive rock star: sexually promiscuous, wild in drug intake and with a message, ultimately, of peace and love; but he is destroyed both by his own excesses of drugs and sex, and by the fans he inspired. Its a terrific work and well worth checking out if you haven't already

Thanks for reading folks!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great Stuff! I loved the bit about him and Hopper sneaking drugs to Iggy in the nut house hahah.