The world lost one of the most iconic musicians with the passing of David Bowie on January 10th, 2016. David Bowie had been creating influential music since the 1960s, and it came as a shock to many when he passed away after battling liver cancer. The shock is perhaps felt all the stronger when you consider that his most recent album, Blackstar, was released earlier this month. Bowie, whose birth name was David Robert Jones, was 69 at the time of his passing.
When it comes to remembering the life David Bowie there is no shortage of qualities that helped make him stand out as an individual. Above all else, Bowie’s willingness to be himself helped made him one of the most influential artists of all time.
There is perhaps no bigger point of influence than in the emergence of the character Ziggy Stardust in the early 1970s. Bowie helped re-energize the music genre of Glam Rock. The genre was defined by musicians wearing outrageous clothes and makeup, and altering their hair wildly, and don’t even get me started on the role of glitter (huge role!). Bowie was well worthy of his nickname as the King of Glam Rock, and he helped influence countless fellow artists to help bring their own sense of style out.
This was not the last persona that Bowie would adopt, as he also took on the Thin White Duke when his 1976 album Station to Station released. There was no doubting that when it came to being a musician, for Bowie it meant more than just singing songs. There was a style and a culture that came with Bowie that helped make him all the more endearing to his fans.
With a life that was clearly marked with so much originality, there is no shortage of facts that you did not know about the life of David Bowie. Take some time to listen to his music, whether it’s old stuff or even his newest, and even if you are not a fan, take a moment to realize the far reaching impact that David Bowie had on the world.
He will be greatly missed.
10. He Went Through Several Bands
When you think of David Bowie, you are quickly blown away by some of the stuff that he did as an individual artist. It may be surprising, but not all that shocking, to find out that when Bowie was starting out, he attempted to join several bands. Bowie started with a band entitled “The Kon-rads”, who played smaller gigs and weddings. After growing frustrated with the band, Bowie joined The Hooker Brothers, then The King Bees.
The King Bees only satisfied Bowie for a month however before he moved on to join the Manish Boys, and then after them, the Lower Third. Bowie was also in the band Turquoise who then went with The Buzz. There was also a group called Turquoise, and also Feathers and The Hype for a little while. Bowie also worked alongside Riot Squad, along with having other backing bands/groups throughout his career. Clearly he was not afraid to take inspiration from a variety of sources.
9. His First Album Got Him Dropped From His Record Label
It is easy to think of David Bowie’s career now and assume that music was always something that came easy to him. It was far from the case however, and his first album (titled David Bowie) which was released in 1967, was not well received by critics and the general public. As a result it was a financial failure and Bowie’s record label, Deram Records, dropped the musician in 1968. While it was clearly not the end of Bowie as an artist, it absolutely must have been a difficult time for Bowie.
8. Bowie Battled Addiction
One of the pitfalls that hinders many musicians is a drug addiction. It can seem like it just comes with part of the lifestyle, but it can still cause an incredible amount of damage to your body and mind.
Bowie was open about the fact that he battled a cocaine addiction for most of the 1970s. While not justifying his actions, Bowie stated that he used cocaine to help fuel the incredible amount of energy that he produces on stage. One look at one of his shows from the 70s and it will be clear to see that it would take a superhuman amount of energy to keep that up.
When Bowie took on the character of the Thin White Duke in 1976, he said his diet was “red peppers, cocaine and milk”.
Thankfully when Bowie was given custody of his son in the late 70s, he gave up the drug.
7. Bowie Collaborated With Several Artists
David Bowie was incredibly passionate about the world of music, and that included not only performing but producing and writing much of his own content. Throughout his career Bowie worked with several artists including but not limited to Iggy Pop (who he lived with at one point) and Mott The Hoople. If you are not a fan of Bowie’s original work, other music such as “Under Pressure”, which he did with Queen, includes some of the best songs out there. It is clearly a life well lived when you can leave a legacy of not only things that you created, but knowledge that you also helped other artists find their own voice.
6. Bowie Has Plenty Of Live Theater Experience
When you consider how much of a performer Bowie was, it may not be all too surprising that he also tried his hand at live theater. In the early 1980s, Bowie took on the lead role of the show The Elephant Man. This included taking the show to multiple cities, as well as doing a run on Broadway. There was also an off-Broadway production, “Lazarus”, which features original songs by Bowie and has performances from December 7th, 2015 through January 17th, 2016 at the New York Theater Workshop. The play also stars Michael C. Hall, though I don’t think he’ll do anything too Dexter-like.
5. His Last Public Performance Was With Alicia Keys
It may be fitting for a man who helped so many others careers, that his last public performance was done alongside other artists. It was back in November, 2006 when Bowie went on stage for a Black Ball fundraiser supporting the foundation “Keep A Child Alive”. Bowie performed “Changes” alongside Alicia Keys, as well as performing “Wild Is The Wind” and “Fantastic Voyage”. Bowie was scheduled to do a comeback gig in 2007, but it was cancelled before anything came to fruition. While it would have been a shock to think that would be his last performance, it will definitely get some new found appreciation now.
4. Bowie Is The Goblin King
I can’t create a list about things you don’t know about David Bowie, and not include his awesome role in the classic film Labyrinth which was created by Jim Henson (yes, the maker of the Muppets). Bowie killed it as Jareth, the king of the Goblins in a role that you need to see to understand. This is far from Bowie’s only acting experience (and it wasn’t his first). Bowie was also outstanding in The Man Who Fell To Earth, he was in Zoolander, he even played Pontius Pilot for Martin Scorsese’s film The Last Temptation of Christ. It was clear that if it involved entertainment, Bowie could be your guy, as he appeared in 28 different films in his career.
3. Bowie’s Left Pupil Is Permanently Dilated
When it comes to David Bowie there were several different traits that helped make him stand out, but it is hard to say whether this in particular is one of them. It may be interesting however to know that he has seemingly different colored eyes, after one of his pupils had become dilated. When Bowie was younger, he was in a schoolyard fight and needless to say, it did not exactly go so well. The fight was allegedly over a girl (typical!) and his friend George Underwood got his fingernail caught in Bowie’s eye which required two different surgeries.
While it may be hard to see this when you look at some of his over the top personas such as Ziggy Stardust, it is still a small part that helped make Bowie who he was.
2. His Various Accolades
When you are in the music industry for as long as David Bowie was, it is only natural to achieve some pretty remarkable things. Bowie’s various contributions to the world of music may be best recognized with the lifetime achievement award that he received at the Grammy’s in 2006. When Bowie released his album The Next Day in 2013, it was well received by most critics including Andy Gill who called it “the greatest comeback album in rock n’ roll history.” Bowie is also a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It’s hard to discredit Bowie for any of these accomplishments, as the artist sold an estimated 140 million records worldwide.
1. Bowie Was Suicidal At 28
For all of the energy and enthusiasm that Bowie put onto his performances, there was a man that still had some deeper issues (including the drug addiction). When Bowie was 28 and living in LA he was severely depressed. Bowie stated “I really did think that my thoughts about not making 30 would come true,” he recalls. “Drugs had taken my life away from me. I felt as though I would probably die and it was going to be all over.” Had Bowie’s assistant not moved Bowie from America to Berlin (where he stopped his drug use), it is very possible that Bowie would not have made it to 30 like he had feared.