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David Bowie

David Robert Jones (born January 8, 1947), better known as David Bowie, is a British rock and roll musician, artist, and occasional actor, from the 1960s to the present.

Bowie was born in Brixton, an area of London, but grew up in the town of Bromley[?], in Kent (now part of Greater London). Initially a saxophonist and vocalist with various blues groups, such as The Lower Third, in 1960s London, Bowie's greatest strength through his career has been his ability to adapt his public image to fit, and often in advance of, the prevailing musical trends. Heavily influenced by the dramatic arts, from avant-garde theatre and mime to Commedia dell'arte much of his work has involved the creation of characters or personae, to present to the world.

His first flirtation with fame came in 1969 when his single Space Oddity was released to coincide with the first moon landing. A failure the first time out, along with his first two albums, it later became a UK hit record. His first notable album, The Man Who Sold The World (1970), rejected the acoustic guitar sound of Oddity, replacing it with the heavy rock[?] backing provided by long-term collaborator Mick Ronson. (The title track provided an unlikely hit for UK pop singer Lulu, and would later be recorded by Kurt Cobain's Nirvana.) His next record, Hunky Dory (1971), saw the partial return of the fey pop singer of Oddity, with light fare such as the droll "Kooks" (dedicated to his young son known to the world as Zowie Bowie but legally named Duncan Jones) and "Oh You Pretty Things" sitting along side the verbose philosophising of "The Bewlay Brothers". Lyrically, Bowie also took the time to pay tribute to some of his influences, on "Song for Bob Dylan", "Andy Warhol" and "Queen Bitch" (dedicated to The Velvet Underground. The next year, Bowie would produce Lou Reed's solo breakthrough, Transformer). Supported by another hit single in "Life On Mars", Hunky Dory sold tremendously well and lifted Bowie into first rank of stars (in an 18 month period in 1972 and '73 he would have four top 10 albums and eight top ten singles in the UK).

The cover of the first of these albums, on which Bowie is seen reclining in a dress, was an early indication of his interest in expoloiting his androgynous looks in his appearance. This would be taken further with his next record, the seminal Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars. Ziggy Stardust (as it is widely known) was a concept album concerning the career of an extraterrestrial rock singer. Bowie took the character to extreme ends, touring and giving press conferences as Ziggy before a dramatic onstage "retirement" in 1973. More importantly, the record contained some of Bowie's best work, much of it a reaction to his own fame and the difference between his beliefs and the reality of stardom. These themes were further explored, with the same musicians, on 1973's Aladdin Sane, a further concept work about the disintegration of society, which included the hit "Jean Genie".

After Pin Ups, a weak collection of cover versions of 1960s hits, came Diamond Dogs, another ambitious album with some spoken-word passages and with a song-cycle about a fascist state based (loosely) on George Orwell's 1984.

In 1975 came the first of Bowie re-inventions of his image, having taken the genderless-alien-cum-rock-star to (and possibly beyond) its limit, including the lead role in Nicolas Roeg's film "The Man Who Fell To Earth". He shed the glam rock trappings and, with Young Americans, became a consummate soul musician, based largely around the then-popular "Sound Of Philadelphia", with backing from the youthful Luther Vandross. 1976's Station To Station featured a somewhat scarier verson of this soul persona, called ("The Thin White Duke"). By then Bowie was heavily dependent on drugs, especially cocaine, and had become notorious for a supposed fascist salute given at London's Victoria Station. Many have attributed the chopped rhythms and emotionless sheen of the record to the influence of the drug. That year, Bowie's interest in the growing German music scene and the appeal of the nightlife caused him to move to Berlin, where he produced two more of his own classic albums, and others, notably by Iggy Pop.

The brittle sound of Station to Station was a precursor to that found on Low, the first of three recorded with the assistance of Brian Eno. Heavily influenced by the Krautrock sound of Kraftwerk et al., the new songs were relatively simple, repetitive and stripped, a clear and typically perverse reaction to punk rock, with the second side wholly instrumental. (By way of tribute, proto-punk Nick Lowe recorded an EP entitled "Bowi".) The next record, "Heroes", was similar in sound to Low, but was more accessible. The mood of these record fit the zeitgest of the Cold War, symbolised by the divided city that provided inspiration, and in which it was recorded. The title track was a worldwide hit and remains one of Bowie's best known. Lodger (1979) was the final, and probably weakest, of his so-called Berlin albums, although it did feature the hits "D.J" and "Boys Keep Swinging".

Despite the decline in both quantity and quality of Bowie's output in the 1980s, he still showed flashes of his previous talent, as well as embarking on a number of ambitious world tours. Scary Monsters and Super Creeps (1980) included "Ashes To Ashes", revisiting the character of Major Tom from "Space Oddity". Bowie alienated some longtime fans but scored his biggest commercial success with Let's Dance (1983), a slightly tepid soul/funk album with co-production Chic's Nile Rodgers, featuring the singles "Modern Love" and "China Girl", the latter causing something of a stir due to its suggestive promotional video. This album is also notable as a stepping stone for the career of Texan guitar virtuoso Stevie Ray Vaughan who played on the album and supported Bowie on tour. Tonight featured collaborations with Tina Turner and a version of the Beach Boys' "God Only Knows". Never Let Me Down (1987) was a further let down.

In 1989, for the first time since the early 1970s, Bowie formed a regular band, Tin Machine, a hard-rocking quartet that released two studio albums and a live record.

Bowie began the 1990s with a stadium tour in which he played many of his biggest hits for what he said would be the last time. He reneged on that promise, but did explore new directions on albums such as 1993's "Buddha of Suburbia" (built on incidental music composed for a TV series), 1995's "Outside" (supposed to be the first volume in a still-unfinished nonlinear narrative of art and murder), 1997's "Earthling" (incorporating experiments in jungle and drum and bass and including a single released over the Internet) and 1999's "Hours..." (featuring a collaboration with the winner of an Internet competition) and in live performances, throughout the decade, usually accompanied by Tin Machine guitarist Reeve Gabrels. The decade also saw him launch a branded ISP (BowieNet) and engage in a novel fundraising scheme to raise cash on the strength of future royalties (Bowie Bonds).

The 1998 Todd Haynes[?] film Velvet Goldmine[?] drew its title from an obscure Bowie song and contained many events paralleling Bowie's life on and off stage. The tagline "The Rise of a Star... the Fall of a Legend" obviously recalls the name of one of Bowie's most famous albums.

The 2002 album "Heathen" reunited him with Tony Visconti[?], producer of many of his best 1970s efforts, and won critical acclaim for his best chart performance in years.

In 2003, a report in the Sunday Express named Bowie as the second-richest entertainer in the U.K. (behind Paul McCartney), with an estimated fortune of 510 million pounds.

Today, living in New York with his second wife, Iman, and their daughter, Bowie remains a dynamic, ever-changing artist.

Bowie as actor

Whilst Bowie's first major acting role, in "The Man Who Fell To Earth" earned him many plaudits, as did his performance on stage as "The Elephant Man", since then his acting career has been patchy. In 1983, the film Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence[?], (based loosley on a novel by Laurens van der Post[?], The Seed and the Sower), was released, with Bowie appearing in the role of a newly-arrived Prisoner Of War (POW), with another famous musician, Ryuichi Sakamoto also appearing in the role of the camp commandant.

Mr Lawrence was well received but his next project, the rock musical Absolute Beginners (1986) was both a critical and box office disaster. The same year he appeared in the Jim Henson movie Labyrinth, playing the king of the goblins.

Along with numerous appearances as himself, he also appeared in: The Hunger[?], a modern vampire movie, with Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon; Basquiat, a biopic of the artist, in which Bowie played Andy Warhol and Twin Peaks:Fire Walk With Me.

Bowie appears in the 2002 List of "100 Great Britons" (sponsored by the BBC and voted for by the public), alongside such other greats as David Beckham, Aleister Crowley and Johnny Rotten.

Billboard Album Charts for David Bowie (year (link to year in music)/title/chart/highest position)

  • 1973 Aladdin Sane Pop Albums No. 17
  • 1973 Bowie Pin Ups Pop Albums No. 23
  • 1973 Images 1966-1967 Pop Albums No. 144
  • 1973 Space Oddity Pop Albums No. 16
  • 1973 Man Who Sold The World Pop Albums No. 105
  • 1973 The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars Pop Albums No. 75
  • 1974 David Live Pop Albums No. 8
  • 1974 Diamond Dogs Pop Albums No. 5
  • 1975 Hunky Dory Pop Albums No. 93
  • 1975 Young Americans Pop Albums No. 9
  • 1976 Changesonebowie Pop Albums No. 10
  • 1976 Station To Station Pop Albums No. 3
  • 1977 &Heroes& Pop Albums No. 35
  • 1977 Low Pop Albums No. 11
  • 1978 David Bowie narrates Prokofiev's &Peter and The Wolf& Pop Albums No. 136
  • 1978 Stage Pop Albums No. 44
  • 1979 Lodger Pop Albums No. 20
  • 1980 Scary Monsters Pop Albums No. 12
  • 1982 Changestwobowie Pop Albums No. 68
  • 1982 Christiane F. Pop Albums No. 135
  • 1983 Let s Dance The Billboard 200 No. 23
  • 1983 Ziggy Stardust - The Motion Picture The Billboard 200 No. 89
  • 1983 Let s Dance Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums No. 70
  • 1983 Golden Years Pop Albums No. 99
  • 1983 Let's Dance Pop Albums No. 4
  • 1983 Ziggy Stardust/The Motion Picture Pop Albums No. 89
  • 1983 Let's Dance Black Albums No. 21
  • 1984 Fame And Fashion - David Bowie s All Time Greatest Hits The Billboard 200 No. 147
  • 1984 Let s Dance The Billboard 200 No. 41
  • 1984 Tonight The Billboard 200 No. 11
  • 1984 Ziggy Stardust - The Motion Picture The Billboard 200 No. 124
  • 1985 Tonight The Billboard 200 No. 40
  • 1987 Never Let Me Down The Billboard 200 No. 34
  • 1989 Sound + Vision The Billboard 200 No. 97
  • 1990 Changesbowie The Billboard 200 No. 39
  • 1990 Rise The Billboard 200 No. 93
  • 1993 Black Tie White Noise The Billboard 200 No. 39
  • 1995 Outside The Billboard 200 No. 21
  • 1997 Earthling The Billboard 200 No. 39
  • 1998 I'm Afraid Of Americans Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales No. 10
  • 1999 Hours... The Billboard 200 No. 47
  • 1999 Hours... Top Internet Albums No. 13
  • 2000 David Bowie Live At The Beeb: 1968--1972 The Billboard 200 No. 181
  • 2000 David Bowie Live At The Beeb: 1968--1972 Top Internet Albums No. 9
  • 2002 Heathen The Billboard 200 No. 14
  • 2002 Heathen Top Internet Albums No. 14
  • 2002 Heathen Top Canadian Albums No. 9

Billboard Single Charts for David Bowie (year/title/chart/highest position)

  • 1972 Changes Pop Singles No. 66
  • 1972 Starman Pop Singles No. 65
  • 1972 Jean Genie Pop Singles No. 71
  • 1973 Space Oddity Pop Singles No. 15
  • 1974 Rebel Rebel Pop Singles No. 64
  • 1975 Fame Club Play Singles No. 2
  • 1975 Changes Pop Singles No. 41
  • 1975 Fame Pop Singles No. 1
  • 1975 Young Americans Pop Singles No. 28
  • 1975 Fame Black Singles No. 21
  • 1976 Stay/Golden Years Club Play Singles No. 9
  • 1976 Golden Years Pop Singles No. 10
  • 1976 TVC 15 Pop Singles No. 64
  • 1977 Sound And Vision Pop Singles No. 69
  • 1980 Ashes To Ashes/Fashion Club Play Singles No. 21
  • 1981 Under Pressure Mainstream Rock No. 7
  • 1981 Fashion Pop Singles No. 70
  • 1982 Cat People (Putting Out Fire) Club Play Singles No. 14
  • 1982 Cat People (Putting Out Fire) Mainstream Rock No. 9
  • 1982 Cat People (Putting Out Fire) Pop Singles No. 67
  • 1982 Under Pressure Pop Singles No. 29
  • 1983 Modern Love The Billboard Hot 100 No. 14
  • 1983 China Girl/Shake It Club Play Singles No. 51
  • 1983 Let's Dance Club Play Singles No. 1
  • 1983 Cat People (Putting Out Fire) Mainstream Rock No. 11
  • 1983 China Girl Mainstream Rock No. 3
  • 1983 Criminal World Mainstream Rock No. 31
  • 1983 Let's Dance Mainstream Rock No. 8
  • 1983 Modern Love Mainstream Rock No. 6
  • 1983 China Girl Pop Singles No. 10
  • 1983 Let's Dance Pop Singles No. 1
  • 1983 Modern Love Pop Singles No. 14
  • 1983 Let's Dance Black Singles No. 14
  • 1984 Blue Jean The Billboard Hot 100 No. 8
  • 1984 Tonight The Billboard Hot 100 No. 53
  • 1984 Without You The Billboard Hot 100 No. 73
  • 1984 Blue Jean Mainstream Rock Tracks No. 2
  • 1984 Neighborhood Threat Mainstream Rock Tracks No. 40
  • 1984 Tonight Mainstream Rock Tracks No. 32
  • 1984 Blue Jean/Dancing With The Big Boys Hot Dance Music/Club Play No. 2
  • 1985 This Is Not America The Billboard Hot 100 No. 32
  • 1985 This Is Not America Mainstream Rock Tracks No. 7
  • 1985 Tonight/Tumble And Twirl Hot Dance Music/Club Play No. 28
  • 1985 This Is Not America Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales No. 42
  • 1986 Absolute Beginners The Billboard Hot 100 No. 53
  • 1986 Absolute Beginners Mainstream Rock Tracks No. 9
  • 1986 Underground Mainstream Rock Tracks No. 18
  • 1986 Underground (Remix) Hot Dance Music/Club Play No. 22
  • 1986 Absolute Beginners Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales No. 50
  • 1987 Day-In Day-Out The Billboard Hot 100 No. 21
  • 1987 Never Let Me Down The Billboard Hot 100 No. 27
  • 1987 Bang Bang Mainstream Rock Tracks No. 38
  • 1987 Day In, Day Out Mainstream Rock Tracks No. 3
  • 1987 Never Let Me Down Mainstream Rock Tracks No. 15
  • 1987 Time Will Crawl Mainstream Rock Tracks No. 7
  • 1987 Day-In Day-Out (Remix) Hot Dance Music/Club Play No. 10
  • 1987 Day-In Day-Out (Remix) Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales No. 38
  • 1987 Never Let Me Down (Remix) Hot Dance Music/Club Play No. 17
  • 1990 Fame 90 Hot Rap Singles No. 12
  • 1990 Fame 90 Hot Dance Music/Club Play No. 6
  • 1990 Fame 90 (Remix) Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales No. 14
  • 1992 Real Cool World Modern Rock Tracks No. 11
  • 1992 Real Cool World Hot Dance Music/Club Play No. 9
  • 1992 Real Cool World Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales No. 20
  • 1993 Jump They Say Modern Rock Tracks No. 4
  • 1993 Jump They Say Hot Dance Music/Club Play No. 6
  • 1993 Jump They Say Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales No. 9
  • 1995 Hearts Filthy Lesson The Billboard Hot 100 No. 92
  • 1995 Hearts Filthy Lesson Modern Rock Tracks No. 20
  • 1996 Hallo Spaceboy Hot Dance Music/Club Play No. 40
  • 1997 I'm Afraid Of Americans Canadian Singles Chart No. 14
  • 1997 I'm Afraid Of Americans The Billboard Hot 100 No. 66
  • 1998 I'm Afraid Of Americans Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales No. 24
  • 1998 I'm Afraid Of Americans Modern Rock Tracks No. 29
  • 1999 Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy Canadian Singles Chart No. 3
  • 2000 Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy Canadian Singles Chart No. 3
  • 2000 Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy Canadian Singles Chart No. 4
  • 2002 I've Been Waiting For You Canadian Singles Chart No. 11

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