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David Bowie
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David Bowie in 2002
Background information
Birth name David Robert Jones
Also known as "The Thin White Duke",
"Ziggy Stardust"
Born (1947-01-08)8 January 1947
Origin Brixton, London, England, UK
Died 10 January 2016(2016-01-10) (aged 69)
Manhattan, New York City, U.S.
Genres Rock, glam rock, art rock, pop rock
Instruments vocals, guitar, piano, keyboard, saxophone, synthesizer, drums, percussion, harmonica, mandolin, koto, marimba, violin, cello, organ, vibraphone, stylophone
Years active 1964–2016

David Robert Jones (8 January 1947 – 10 January 2016), better known by his stage name David Bowie, was an English rock musician and actor.

Early life

Bowie was born in Brixton, London. He grew up in Bromley, Kent. He played the saxophone. He was a singer in London blues bands. He used the alias David Bowie because David Jones sounded too much like Davy Jones (of The Monkees). He took the name Bowie from Jim Bowie, who invented the Bowie knife.

Bowie became known to the public with the 1969 song Space Oddity. This was released when men first landed on the moon. The song is based on the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick.


Ziggy Stardust

Bowie's album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars was released in 1972. It is one of his best-known albums. As a result of his performance, Bowie became a leader of glam rock.

Ziggy Stardust became Bowie's second personality (alter ego). For a press-conference, he would show up as Ziggy. Bowie let Ziggy Stardust come to an end during a live concert in the Hammersmith Odeon theatre on 3 July 1973. In 1983, this show was released as movie and soundtrack (Ziggy Stardust – The Motion Picture).

Los Angeles and Berlin

Bowie settled in Los Angeles. A new second personality was The Thin White Duke. This was introduced on the Station to Station album in 1976. The song single Golden Years scored high in the pop charts. In 2003, the album was ranked No. 323 on Rolling Stone magazine's "list of the 500 greatest albums of all time".

After releasing Station to Station, Bowie moved to Berlin. He was interested in the German music scene. He wanted to end his drug abuse. In Berlin, he started to work with producer Brian Eno. Bowie, in his turn, was producer for Iggy Pop. The Berlin Albums are Low (1977), Heroes (1977) and Lodger (1979).


Bowie left Berlin in 1980. The last album at that time was Scary Monsters... And Super Creeps. In 1981, he had a big hit with Under Pressure, together with Queen.

Tin Machine

In 1989, Bowie formed a new band. This was his first real band since the 1970s. The band was called Tin Machine. With this band, Bowie recorded three albums: Tin Machine (1989), Tin Machine II (1991) and Oy Vey, Baby (1992).


By the 1990s, Bowie had become more interested in soul, jazz and hip hop. This was first noticed on the album Black Tie, White Noise.

Bowie was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on 17 January 1996.

In 2013, Bowie released his twenty-fourth album, The Next Day. It was nominated for Best Rock Album at the 2014 Grammy Awards.

His last album, Blackstar, was released on 8 January 2016, his 69th birthday and two days before his death.

Personal life

Bowie married Mary Angela Barnett in 1970. Their son, Duncan Jones was born in 1971. The couple divorced in 1980. Bowie married Iman in 1992. The couple's daughter, Alexandria Jones, was born in 2000.


On 10 January 2016, Bowie died after an 18-month battle with liver cancer in Manhattan, New York City. He was 69 years old. His remains were later cremated on 14 January in a private ceremony in New York.


Bowie covered many genres including art rock, hard rock, glam rock, alternative rock, krautrock, protopunk, post-punk, electronica, Blue-eyed soul, New Wave, Industrial, Techno, Jazz, Dance music, Funk, Disco, Experimental rock, Folk, Instrumental, Ambient and house.

Studio albums

  • David Bowie (1967)
  • David Bowie (also released as Space Oddity) (1969)
  • The Man Who Sold the World (1970)
  • Hunky Dory (1971)
  • The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972)
  • Aladdin Sane (1973)
  • Pin Ups (1973)
  • Diamond Dogs (1974)
  • Young Americans (1975)
  • Station to Station (1976)
  • Low (1977)
  • "Heroes" (1977)
  • Lodger (1979)
  • Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) (1980)
  • Let's Dance (1983)
  • Tonight (1984)
  • Never Let Me Down (1987)
  • Tin Machine (1989)
  • Tin Machine II (1991)
  • Black Tie White Noise (1993)
  • The Buddha of Suburbia (1993)
  • Outside (1995)
  • Earthling (1997)
  • 'Hours...' (1999)
  • Heathen (2002)
  • Reality (2003)
  • The Next Day (2013)
  • Blackstar (2016)

Filmography (selection)

  • The Image (1969)
  • The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976) - Thomas Jerome Newton
  • Just a Gigolo (1979) - Paul
  • Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983) - Maj. Jack 'Strafer' Celliers
  • Labyrinth (movie) (1986) - Jareth, the Goblin King
  • The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) - Pontius Pilate
  • Mr. Rice's Secret (2000) - Mr. Rice

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