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David Bowie: Biography and Quotes

Instructor: Summer Stewart

Summer has taught creative writing and sciences at the college level. She holds an MFA in Creative writing and a B.A.S. in English and Nutrition

Musician David Bowie took the world by storm with his music. In this lesson, we will learn about his musical career and read a few quotes that were recorded throughout his life.


David Bowie was a musician known for his glamorous costumes and music that seemed to connect everybody. He received numerous awards during his lifetime and produced over twenty studio albums. In this lesson, we will take a look at David Bowie's biography and a few things that Bowie said throughout his career.


Early Life

David Bowie was born David Robert Jones on January 8, 1947, in Brixton, a South London neighborhood. Bowie demonstrated an interest in music in his early teens and learned how to play the saxophone at 13.

Bowie was introduced to rock music and beat literature by his half-brother, Terry. During the 1960s, he played in bands such as The Kon-Rads, The King Bees, the Mannish Boys, and the Lower Third, many of which inspired his eccentric fashion sense and aspirations to become a known artist.

By 1966, Bowie had signed Kenneth Pitt on as his manager. He had many singles produced, but it wasn't until 1969 with his debut of Space Oddity that he started on his journey to international stardom.

The 1970s

During the 1970s, David Bowie did more than just make music: he transformed himself into Ziggy Stardust. After the release of the 1972 album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, Bowie embodied the character by dressing in crazy costumes and making the persona come to life in the public and private eye.

As his reputation began to climb the ladders of the music industry, he dropped the Ziggy Stardust persona and slipped into a public persona fit with glitter and gold. He produced albums for big names like Iggy Pop and Lou Reed, while producing his own album Aladdin Sane in 1973. The outlandish costumes, make up, and concerts quickly became a thing of the past. In 1975, he revamped his look and released Young Americans. For the album, he collaborated with Luther Vandross and John Lennon. Fame, the song featuring John Lennon and Carlos Alomar gave Bowie his number one single in America.

Throughout the 1970s, Bowie continued to rise in the music industry, producing a handful of internationally successful albums and performing at sold-out tours. Bowie also began acting in several movies, including The Man Who Fell To Earth and Just A Gigolo. Between 1975 and 1980, Bowie lived in Berlin, Indonesia, Africa, France, and The United States.

The 1980s

Scary Monsters was released in 1980, while Bowie resided in New York City. Briefly, Bowie hid from the private eye between 1981 and 1982, but it didn't last long. Bowie dedicated several years to acting by performing in The Hunger (1982), Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1982), and Labyrinth (1986).

The eighties marked a decline in success in David Bowie's music. His albums Tin Machine and Tin Machine II lacked the appeal that Bowie's listeners were used to hearing. His new band, 'Tin Machine' didn't continue after 1992.

The 1990s

Bowie released Black Tie White Noise in 1993. The album reached number 1 in the United Kingdom, but failed to garner much success among American listeners. Bowie produced and released the album as a dedication to his new wife, Iman.

Demonstrating his chameleon-like abilities, Bowie went on tour with Nine Inch Nails in 1996. He performed with Neil Young at the Bridge Benefit Concert in San Francisco that same year. During that year he produced the album Earthling, which was inspired by his work during the tours he performed throughout the summer.

His song, Telling Lies, was the first downloaded song in 1996. Over 350 thousand Americans downloaded it, marking the upcoming changes in music distribution. Bowie was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, securing his place in music history.

During the last half of the 90s, Bowie continued to tour and produce music at a rapid speed. He collaborated with Eno, The Smashing Pumpkins, Marilyn Manson, Foo Fighters, and Placebo.

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