David Bowie (1947 – 2016)
After an 18 month battle with cancer, rockstar David Bowie dies at 69 years old. The Carouser’s very own David examines the life of the man who sold the world through sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.
Bowie was one of the undisputed giants of rock music; a highly original, prolific and influential artist. Born David Jones in Brixton, London 1947 his recording career began as early as 1964. However it wasn’t until after 9 flop singles including the execrable Laughing Gnome and one flop LP that he hit the big time with “Space Oddity” which got to number 5 in the UK charts in ’69. This record was released at the same time (July 1969) that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men to land on the moon.
Despite the top 5 success of “Space Oddity” the next 3 Bowie albums all failed to make any impact on the charts. It was not until 1972 that Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars launched Bowie as a major star. This LP got to number 5 in the UK album charts. It was then that he announced his bi-sexuality to the media and became an immediate role model to many gay people. The 1970’s was the golden age of rock and saw Bowie score major hits in the UK and USA with classic albums such as Aladdin Sane, Pin-ups, Diamond Dogs, Young Americans, Station to Station, Low and Heroes.
Although his success seemed calculated, Bowie admitted that he couldn’t recall much of the ’70s due to an excessive amount of drugs landing him with the name “old vaccum-cleaner nose”. His antics were well documented including rumoured relationships with Elizabeth Taylor, Bianca Jagger, Marianne Faithful and even Mick Jagger. He once said of his cocaine splurge, “I blew my nose one day in California and half my brains came out. Something had to be done.”
The rise of punk decimated many rock acts but Bowie moved with the times and became more dance orientated in his music. Albums such as Let’s Dance, Tonight, and Never Let Me Down were global big sellers. The only real dip in his career was from 1989 -1992 with the Tin Machine Project. He was back on track in 1993 with a number one LP Black Tie, White Noise, which was followed by big hits such as “Outside, Earthling and Hours”.
His output in C21 has been rather limited with nothing from Reality (2003) until the Number One LP The Next Day in 2013. Ironically he had only just released his last album, the jazz tinged, Blackstar on his 69th birthday, 8 Jan 2016, just 3 days before his untimely death from cancer. Bowie was a great singer, songwriter and musician but he will be remembered for his ability to keep re-inventing himself: “Androgynous Spider from Mars”, “Thin White Duke”, “New Wave”, “Champion of Electronic Music”, etc. Bowie remained at the top of his game for over 40 years and was always an original artist. Sadly, we are not likely to see another artist like him again.