5 important facts about David Bowie

Since September 16, 2022, the documentation Moontime Daydream, dedicated to David Bowie’s fifty-year career, is available in all cinemas. Through recordings, videos, drawings, images taken by fans and excerpts from concerts, it allows us to delve into the rich, varied and atypical work of the British artist. Because the anecdotes about the one who is described by the famous American magazine as the 23rd “greatest singer of all time”. Rolling Stone do not miss. On the occasion of the release of this film by Brett Morgen, a look back at this icon like no other.

Why the pseudonym David Bowie?

The artist, whose real name was David Robert Jones, was born on January 8, 1947 in London to a mother who worked in the cinema and a father who was responsible for public relations for a charity. He discovered music through his half-brother, who was ten years older than him, and began playing music after dropping out of technical college at the age of 17. As a member of various groups, he feared possible confusion with another then popular singer in England, Monkee Davy Jones. David Robert Jones then decides to adopt the nickname Tom Jones… But no luck, his namesake, the Welsh interpreter of It’s not uncommon in particular enjoys growing success at the same time.

Bowie’s pseudonym first appeared in 1966: the single Can’t help but think of me is credited to “David Bowie with The Lower Third”. “I don’t have to tell you why I changed my name”, the musician wrote the following year in a letter to his first American fan. But he will later admit that “Bowie” comes from the knife of the same name that was popular in the United States in the 19th century. In the book America in the British Imagination The author John F. Lyons, published in 2013, will even claim that it is more precisely the creator of the opinel, an American pioneer who would have inspired David Robert Jones. A fan of Hollywood cinema, he would have been a fan of the film too The Alamo (1960), whose hero is none other than the famous Jim Bowie. But he never confirmed this hypothesis.

The Alter Egos of David Robert Jones

The song that launched his career space oddity (1969) – and was the end credits of the Apollo 11 mission programs – introduces a recurring character from his work: Major Tom, a fictional astronomer, a sort of alter ego of Bowie. In addition, it is he who opens the clip of Dark Star, whose eponymous project was released two days before the death of the artist, who died of liver cancer on January 10, 2016. Another role he will take on is the extravagant and glamorous Ziggy Stardust, with extravagant costumes and looks and redhead. He will play this alien who descended to earth with the aim of becoming a rock icon during a sold-out tour for his album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spider from Mars (1972), which will become a hit.

However, his concerts become increasingly theatrical and shocking, made worse by drug use. Bowie gradually becomes unable to detach himself from this projection and leaves Ziggy Stardust. He prefers a darker version, that of Aladdin Sane, the namesake of his 1973 album and famous for the red and blue flash on his face. His love for Tell stories doesn’t stop there as it is the character from “Halloween Jack” who will appear on the cover and for the tour of his concept album diamond dogs (1974). from station to station (1976) marked the creation of “Thin White Duke”, inspired in part by his role in The man who came from somewhere else (1976) – for which he received the Saturn Awards for best actor.

Five decades of style change

It was his half-brother Terry Burns who introduced David Bowie to modern jazz so much that at the age of 13 he began playing a Grafton alto saxophone that his mother had given him. During his lifetime he will be able to play harmonica, ukulele, guitar, keyboards, stylophone, koto, marimba or even drums. Skills he developed in his first rock ‘n’ roll-inspired bands (the Konrads, royal bees, manly boys, Lower third…). But very quickly he added blues, folk and soul. His first album The Buzz (1967) is a mixture of baroque pop and vaudeville. In his 50-year career – and his 28 studio albums – he will also devote a constant fascination to this latter genre.

In all of these, the singer-songwriter goes as far as exploring electric or psychedelic sounds, including hard rock. While his beginnings will be marked by space rock, he will be part of the musical New Wave that emerged in the late 1970s alongside artists like Iggy Pop, with whom he composes. Her second single to reach #1 on the charts US Billboard Hot 100 (With Famous) is a pure funk rock and post disco track, let’s Dance (1983). After immersing himself in drum and bass and hip-hop culture in the late 1990s and keeping a low profile, he eventually returned to his first love, jazz, in the 2000s.

Mismatched eyes making it unique

Contrary to what his odd look might suggest, David Bowie did not have odd eyes (heterochromia). This feature is actually the result of a battle between young David Robert Jones and his friend George Underwood. As teenagers, they lusted after the same girl, so much so that the former was hit in the left eye by the latter. Multiple surgeries are not enough to heal the damaged muscles to allow the organ to adapt to the surrounding light. So that his pupil remains constantly dilated (permanent mydriasis)… until the blue of his eye turns brown with the deficit of light being received by the iris. Despite this incident, the two friends remained on good terms, so George designed some of the artist’s covers.

Pioneer against gender stereotypes

He did not want “Be representative of any group of people”he agreed mixer in 2002. However, David Bowie has become an LGBT icon against his will. Not only because of his sexuality, which initially defined itself as gay (Melody Maker1972), then bisexual (playboy, 1976) and finally “outside the box”. Through his clips, his appearances on stage, also through his words, which convey a liberating message. But also and above all by its appearance. In his productions he presents a thousand faces and a thousand characters with whom he plays with dress codes without worrying about gender – moreover, he is very often an androgynous quality. On the cover of his third The man who sold the world (1970), for example, he wears a dress unafraid of shocking his time.

Did you know ? An asteroid (Davidbowie, 342843) a species of spider (Heteropoda davidbowie) as well as extinct mammal species in Brazil (Brazilian Stardusti) and a wasp (Archaeotelia astropulvis) got the nickname in homage to David Bowie or his character Ziggy Stardust.

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