11th January 2016. Is a sad day, a day when this world lost a true Legend one of the greats!
One of my personal heroes passed away - The Man who fell to Earth has left this planet. R.I.P David Bowie....
So this blog is totally dedicated to the Original Chameleon - taking a look at his looks and personas over the decades.
Born David Robert Jones on the 8th of January 1947, in Brixton South London, his interest in music started very early, though the 1960s if a few bands were formed but any attempts to musical success were falling flat.
Space Oddity, the now iconic Bowie song reached number 5 in the Uk charts in July 1969 - England had a new star twinkling star... and the first Bowie persona, Major Tom - An Astronaut that has lost contact with Earth - he will be revisited in the 80s track 'Ashes to Ashes'
The couple of years that followed saw months of experimentation. The album the Man that sold the world (covered later by Nirvana) was released - there was a clear faster pace and the folky roots were slowly being discarded and a move towards rocker riffs ensued.
Famously he once said that he gets bored of things quickly - but perhaps it was just that which made him special and changed look style and sound so often!
Before launching himself into Ziggy Stardust, being always interested in the Arts he also trained as an actor - (In 1980 he played the lead role in The Elephant Man in broadway to critical acclaim) he particularly was interested in the life of a mime - if one looks carefully this trait can be seen clearly through the years.
But in 1972 he was ready to unleash Ziggy Stardust to the world, as biographer David Buckley described: (Ziggy Stardust) 'challenged the core belief of the rock music of its day'. At the time Rock Music was very Macho we could now call it Hetero - and no one was ready for the persona of a flame haired bisexual Alien who was acting as a messenger for extra terrestrial beings. Ziggy Stardust propelled him to global stardom while creating one of the biggest impacts in popular culture.
“I always had a repulsive need to be something more than human. I felt very puny as a human. I thought, "Fuck that. I want to be a superhuman.”
widely considered to be one of the best albums of all time 'The Rise of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars' went on to sell an estimated 7.5 million copies and coincided with him coming out as gay during an interview with Melody Maker. ( He would then come out as bisexual in an interview with Playboy in 1976)
Following a U.S tour a new persona was born - Aladdin Sane which was described as 'Ziggy goes to America' ... The album which had a nod to Mental Illness, Schizophrenia , Depression and Paranoia is also an anagram of 'A Lad Insane'
Coinciding with the release of Diamond Dogs we had another persona known as Halloween Jack ('A real Cool Cat' who lives in the decaying 'hunger city') - The Pop pirate persona was short-lived and just like Aladdin Sane - the 3 personas are regularly confused as being all Ziggy Stradurst.
But it was not till the mid seventies that Bowie got major success in the U.S with 'Fame' and the album 'Young Americans' The change in look confounded both his fans as his label, the flamboyant looks were toned down dramatically and The Thin White Duke was born.
The Thin White Duke was the darkest of all of Bowie's personas, It was a time when Bowie said he was living on a diet of Red Peppers, Cocaine and Milk, and although he seemed far more normal than his previous characters he was far more complex than what meets the eye. as described by Bowie himself:
A very Aryan, fascist-type; a would-be romantic with absolutely no emotion at all but who spouted a lot of neo-romance”
Impeccable dressed in a white shirt and waist coat the Duke looked a bit like a mad aristocrat he sung about love songs with intensity yet felt nothing. Bowie described him as a 'Nasty Character Indeed'
As his Cocaine addiction ate at his physical and mental health Bowie decided to leave Los Angeles and head back to Europe, first landing in Paris, and then moving to West Berlin were the now famous Berlin Trilogy: Low, Heroes & Lodger albums were recorded with Brian Eno and Tony Visconti.
The 1980's started with a Pierrot look for Heroes. The New Romantics which were currently more of an underground movement that was creating noise had their now famous club Blitz and the Blitz kidz which are credited to launch the New Romantic look are the ones walking on that beach in the Ashes to Ashes video. Though Bowie never properly embraced the New Romantics he went to the Blitz to choose a few characters for the video.
That was probably the last proper flamboyant look for Bowie.
But that did not make things boring.... The 80's gave us Let's dance , and let's not forget Labyrinth!
The 90's Album Earthling was another gorgeous sonic experimentation Drum n bass went mainstream, We had the Outsider persona which was a far more accessible look it was spiky hair goatee and crazy coats,... it evolved between the albums Outside and Earthling.
The new Millenium gave us the Meta Bowie....
No one knew what would come after that with the Next Day taking the music world by storm....
and while fans and the music world were getting excited over the release of Blackstar, and everyone was wishing him a Happy 69th Birthday just 3 days ago, little did we know that that would be our parting gift.
As Tony Visconti explains:
'He always did what he wanted to do.... and he wanted to do it in his way and he wanted to do it the best way. His death was no different to his life - a work of art. He made 'Blackstar' for us, his parting gift. I knew for a year this was the way it would be. I wasn't however prepared for it. He was an extraordinary man, full of love and life. He will always be with us. For now, It is appropriate to cry.
David Bowie (1947 - 2016)