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David Bowie is an English rock star known for dramatic musical transformations, including his character Ziggy Stardust. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.
David Bowie - Full Biography (45:20)
David Bowie - Berlin (2:36)
David Bowie shocked the world as the androgynous glam-rock icon Ziggy Stardust. The man who made make-up cool, he's best known for his hits "Under Pressure" and "Space Oddity."
Mick Rock talks about the photo of David Bowie that became legendary.
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David Bowie was born in South London on January 8, 1947. His first hit was the song "Space Oddity" in 1969. The original pop chameleon, Bowie became a science fiction character for his breakout Ziggy Stardust album. He later co-wrote "Fame" with John Lennon which became his first American number one single. An accomplished actor, Bowie starred in The Man Who Fell to Earth in 1976. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.
"When I'm stuck for a closing to a lyric, I will drag out my last resort: overwhelming illogic."
"I always had a repulsive need to be something more than human."
Known as a musical chameleon for his ever-changing appearance and sound, David Bowie was born David Robert Jones in Brixton, South London, England, on January 8, 1947.
David showed an interest in music from an early age and began playing the saxophone at age 13. He was greatly influenced by brother Terry, who was nine years older and exposed young David to the worlds of rock music and beat literature.
But Terry had his demons, and his mental illness, which forced the family to commit him to an institution, haunted David for a good deal of his life. Terry committed suicide in 1985, a tragedy that became the focal point of Bowie's later song, "Jump They Say."
After graduating from Bromley Technical High School at 16, David started working as a commercial artist. He also continued to play music, hooking up with a number of bands and leading a group himself called Davy Jones and the Lower Third. Several singles came out of this period, but nothing that gave the young performer the kind of commercial traction he needed.
Eventually, Bowie went out on his own. But after recording an unsuccessful solo album, Bowie exited the music world for a temporary period. Like so much of his later life, these few years proved to be incredibly experimental for the young artist. For several weeks in 1967 he lived at a Buddhist monastery in Scotland, and in 1968 he started his own mime troupe called Feathers.
Around this time he also met the American-born Angela Barnett. The two married on March 20, 1970 and had one son together, Zowie, in 1971, before divorcing in 1980.
By early 1969 Bowie had returned full-time to music. He signed a deal with Mercury Records and that summer released the single "Space Oddity." Bowie later said the song came to him after seeing Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. "I went stoned out of my mind to see the movie and it really freaked me out, especially the trip passage."
The song quickly resonated with the public, sparked in large part by the BBC's use of the single during its coverage of the Apollo 11 moon landing. The song enjoyed later success in the U.S., when it was released in 1972 and climbed to Number 15 on the charts.
Bowie's next album, The Man Who Sold the World, further catapulted him to stardom. The record offered up a heavier rock sound than anything Bowie had done before and included the song "All the Madmen," about his institutionalized brother, Terry.
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