David Bowie: A Legend Passes

David Bowie from the cover of his album "Heroes."
David Bowie from the cover of his album “Heroes.”

Rock icon David Bowie died earlier today at the age of 69, according to his family

Here are some facts you may not have known about the musical innovator.

Bowie was born David Jones in Brixton, South London on January 8, 1947. His mother worked as a waitress and his father worked for a charity.

At the age of nine, Bowie’s father brought home a collection of American 45s, including artists such as Elvis Presley, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, the Platters, Fats Domino and Little Richard.

It was Little Richard’s “Tutti Frutti” that had a particular impact on the young Bowie’s life.

He would later say, “I had heard God.”

Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog” was also influential. “It really impressed me, the power of the music. I started getting records immediately after that.”

He also began performing, including dancing to songs by Elvis and Chuck Berry, that was called “mesmerizing … like someone from another planet.”

He began playing a plastic alto saxophone in 1961. A year later he would be seriously injured in a fight with a schoolmate over a girl. Doctors feared Bowie’s left eye would be left blind. He recovered slightly, although he was left with poor depth perception and a permanently dilated pupil. He and the classmate, George Underwood, remained friends. Underwood created artwork for some of Bowie’s early albums.

He started playing in a band called the Konrads in 1962 at the age of 15. He moved from band to band and manager to manager over the next several years. His habit of firing managers would prove quite expensive in later years.

In 1967, he changed his stage name to David Bowie, in order to avoid confusion with Davy Jones of The Monkees. He took his new last name from American frontiersman Jim Bowie, despite the difference in pronunciation. He also released his self titled debut solo album that year.

In 1969, days ahead of the launch of Apollo 11, “Space Oddity” was released, which was his first hit, reaching the Top 5 in the UK. It reached No. 124 in the United States on its first release. (Although it would be rereleased in 1973 and hit No. 15 in the U.S.). It was followed by another self-titled album.

Also that year he met Angela Barnett, whom he would marry, less than a year later.  The marriage would produce a son, film director Duncan Jones. 1970 saw Bowie release the album, “The Man Who Sold the World.”

In 1971, he released his landmark album, “Hunky Dory,” which featured the single “Changes” and the song “Life on Mars.” Despite it’s only moderate success at the time, “Hunky Dory” has consistently been rated among the greatest albums of all time.

In 1972, Bowie created the character of Ziggy Stardust, the definitive rock star, who also acts as a messenger for extra terrestrial beings. This might be his most influential phase, at the peak of the Glam Rock period. The album “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars,” spawned the hits, “Starman,” Suffragette City,” “Moonage Daydream,” and the closest thing to a title track the album has, “Ziggy Stardust.” He took the role of Ziggy Stardust so seriously that it began affecting his life off stage, leading him to doubt his sanity. In 1973, Ziggy Stardust “retired” during a show at London’s Hammersmith Odeon.

The next year, Bowie moved to the United States where he worked on his next album “Diamond Dogs,” which veered more into soul and funk. Also at this time he fell into a deep cocaine addiction, leading to physical issues, paranoia and other emotional problems. Despite these issues, “Diamond Dogs,” and a live album were successful. In 1975, he released “Young Americans” the sound of which Bowie described as “plastic soul.” The album produced Bowie’s first No. 1 single in the U.S., “Fame,” which was co-written with John Lennon. He was also one of the first white acts to appear on “Soul Train,” where he performed “Fame” and “Golden Years.”

His next alter ego, the “Thin White Duke” was introduced on his next album “Station to Station.” The character featured immaculate taste in clothing, but was obviously troubled by the massive amounts of cocaine he was taking. The cocaine use eventually got so bad, Bowie decided to move back to Europe, where he recorded what is known as his Berlin Trilogy: “Low,” “Heroes,” and “Lodger.”

In 1981, he worked with Queen to write and record “Under Pressure.” The song was Bowie’s third No. 1 single and Queen’s second, after “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

In 1983, Bowie released his best-selling album “Let’s Dance,” which featured the title track, which went to No. 1 in the U.S., “China Girl,” and “Modern Love.”

In 1986, he appeared as Jareth the Goblin King in Jim Henson’s film, “Labyrinth.” He also wrote five songs for the soundtrack.

In 1992, he married Iman, and the couple had a daughter in 2000.

Bowie continued releasing music for the rest of his life. His most recent album, “Blackstar” was released last Friday, his 69th birthday.

David Bowie died earlier today after an 18-month battle with cancer.

Our question, what blues guitarist played the solos on the single “Let’s Dance”?

Today is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day in the United States, it’s Children’s Day in Tunisia and Republic Day in Albania. It’s Learn Your Name in Morse Code Day, Milk Day, and National Hot Toddy Day. It’s the birthday of U.S. founding father Alexander Hamilton, suffragist Alice Paul and singer Naomi Judd.

Now a look back on entertainment charts of the past.

5 years ago in 2011, the top song in the U.S. was “Grenade” by Bruno Mars; the No. 1 movie was the remake of “True Grit” and “Dead or Alive” by Tom Clancy with Grant Blackwood topped the New York Times Bestsellers list.










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