David Bowie: The Life Story You May Not Know

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David Bowie: The Life Story You May Not Know

David Bowie performs on stage on the first night of his Serious Moonlight world tour in 1983.

David Bowie was one of the most intriguing musicians of our time, continually reinventing himself and influencing countless others along the way.

Bowie’s theatrical brilliance, creativity, sexual ambiguity, and incredible music kept audiences engaged time and time again. With the Sept. 16 release of “Moonage Daydream,” a 2022 documentary film about Bowie’s life and career with never-before-seen footage, Stacker has compiled a list of 25 things about David Bowie’s life that you might not know, culled from news reports, biographies, magazine interviews, and film and music databases.

He made more than two dozen albums, including “Blackstar,” which was released just two days before his death. He played over a dozen instruments, including a right-handed guitar even though he was left-handed. Bowie’s concept album, “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars”, introduced the world to his glam-rock persona in 1972. Four years later, he starred in the film “The Man Who Fell to Earth”. In the late 1970s, he quit his drug addiction and appeared in “The Elephant Man” on Broadway.

Two years after suffering a heart attack in 2004, Bowie performed three songs on stage with Alicia Keys in New York. It was his last performance. In the year since his death, Bowie and “Blackstar” have won four Grammy Awards. The BBC reported in 2019 that David Bowie had won the broadcaster’s viewer poll for the greatest entertainer of the 20th century, beating Charlie Chaplin, Billie Holiday and Marilyn Monroe.

“I like crazy art and, most of the time, extravagant music”, Bowie once said. “Rather than having a hit song these days, I like the idea that I’m here to change the blueprint of what society and culture looks like. I changed things; I knew that I would. It’s awesome and very rewarding.

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1947: Born in Brixton

David Bowie was born on January 8, 1947 as David Robert Hayward-Jones in Brixton, London. His father, Haywood Stenton Jones, came from a wealthy family whose members were partners in the Public Benefit Boot Company.

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1960-1962: Learning to play the sax, getting hit

Bowie became a jazz fan and at age 13 started playing the saxophone. He attended Bromley Technical High School with Peter Frampton, whose father was the schoolmaster. When he was 15, he was punched in the eye by a friend. The injury left one of his pupils permanently dilated, making his blue eyes look like two different colors.

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1962: Beginning of Kon-Rad

Bowie formed his first band, the Kon-Rads, in 1962. He was a member of the Hookers Brothers, then the King Bees, and later joined the Lower Third.

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1966: Davy Jones becomes David Bowie

The musician adopted the nickname David Bowie in 1966. He had tried to go by Davy Jones, but it was the same name as the singer of the Monkees. He chose his new name in honor of the American pioneer Jim Bowie, to whom we owe the Bowie knife. A year later, he released his first self-titled album.

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1969: Release of “Space Oddity”

Bowie’s single “Space Oddity” was released days before the US launch of Apollo 11 on the Moon. It was his breakthrough success, reaching the top five in Britain.

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1970: Marry Angela Barnett

Bowie married model and actress Angela Barnett in March 1970. Their marriage lasted 10 years. As part of their divorce settlement, Barnett was unable to reveal details of their marriage for several years. In 1992 she published a memoir titled “Backstage Passes: Life on the Wild Side with David Bowie”.

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1970: A trip to America

Bowie released “The Man Who Sold the World” in late 1970. He made his first trip to America to promote it the following spring.

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1971: A son is born

Duncan Zowie Haywood Jones was born to David Bowie and Angela Barnett on May 9, 1971. First named Zowie, Bowie’s son went through Joe and then Duncan Jones. He became a screenwriter and director.

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1972: The Rise of Ziggy Stardust

Bowie released the iconic album “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” in June 1972. Many music fans first encountered Bowie’s glam-rock character Ziggy Stardust when he appeared live on the 1972 “Top of The Pops” show. Bowie toured as Ziggy Stardust until mid-1973.

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1972: Production of Lou Reed, Iggy, Mott the Hoople

In 1972, Bowie produced Lou Reed’s “Transformer” album (featuring the hit song “Walk on the Wild Side”) as well as Iggy & The Stooges’ “Raw Power” and Mott the Hoople. He also wrote the title track for the album Mott the Hoople.

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1972: Coming out in an interview

In a magazine interview in 1972 Bowie declared he was gay. But in a later 1983 interview with “Rolling Stone,” he said he made it up, calling himself a “closet heterosexual.” At other times, he has called himself bisexual.

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1975: “Young Americans”, collaboration with John Lennon

The album “Young Americans” was released in March 1975. It featured a collaboration with John Lennon on the song “Fame”, which became Bowie’s first US No. 1 single. R&B singer Luther Vandross performed backup vocals on the album.

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1976: “The Man Who Fell to Earth”

The musician starred in the 1976 science fiction film “The Man Who Fell to Earth.” He played an alien who travels to Earth to seek help in saving his home planet.

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1977: Christmas with Bing Crosby

Bowie appeared on Bing Crosby’s Christmas TV special which was taped in London and aired after Crosby’s death. The couple sang a duet version of “The Little Drummer Boy”.

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1977-1979: Living, working in Berlin

From 1977 to 1979, Bowie lived in the German capital and released what became his “Berlin trilogy” of albums: “Low”, “Heroes” and “Lodger”. After Bowie’s death, fans tried to have the street where he lived renamed “David-Bowie-Straße” or David Bowie Street.

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1978: Narration of “Peter and the Wolf”

While on tour in 1978, Bowie performed “Peter and the Wolf” with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Now out of print, the album has become a collector’s item.

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1980: A divorce and a show on Broadway

Bowie, who had moved to Switzerland, and Angela Barnet filed for divorce in early 1980. Later that year, Bowie starred in “The Elephant Man” on Broadway.

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1981: Collaboration with Queen

Bowie collaborated with Freddie Mercury and Queen to create the single “Under Pressure” in 1981. It became his third song to reach No. 1 on the UK charts. Bowie originally wanted it to be titled “People on the Streets”.

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1983: “Let’s Dance” sells millions

Released in April 1983, “Let’s Dance” quickly became Bowie’s best-selling album, selling some 7 million copies worldwide. The album’s producer said it was made in just 17 days.

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1992: Marry model Iman

Bowie and model Iman married in 1992. Bowie’s son, Duncan Jones, acted as best man. Bowie had proposed to Iman under the Pont Neuf in Paris.

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1996: Inducted into the Hall of Fame

In 1996, the musician was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by Madonna. The following year, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2000 he declined the royal honor of Commander of the Order of the British Empire, and three years later he also declined knighthood.

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2001: A Tribute to New York

Bowie and Iman had a daughter, Alexandria Zahra Jones, in 2001. Later that year, he gave a moving performance at the New York Concert at Madison Square Garden after the 9/11 attacks. He performed the Simon and Garfunkel song “America” ​​and his own piece, “Heroes”.

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2004: A heart attack on stage

While on tour to promote his album “Reality”, Bowie suffered a heart attack during a performance in Germany. He immediately underwent emergency angioplasty.

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2016: Death from cancer

On his 69th birthday, Bowie released his album “Blackstar.” Two days later he died of cancer. “David Bowie passed away peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18-month battle with cancer,” a statement on his website read.


2016: Ashes spread in Bali

At the time of his death, Bowie’s estate was estimated at $100 million. His body was cremated and his ashes were spread on the peaceful island of Bali.

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