|David Bowie"David Bowie, as a musician, performer and songwriter, continuallyre-invents himself and his art." – VH1 LegendsThe hallmark of rock-n-roll greats often lies in their ability to hone to perfection a strong and easily assimilated iconic, but singular image. It may evolve slowly and surely over the years, but will always be presumed to be a natural maturing. David Bowie, as a musician, performer and songwriter, defies this convention completely. He continually re-invents himself and his art at breakneck speed and illogical disjointedness. It seems as though time is always at a premium. With complete disregard for music style, loyalty or so-called integrity, he often combines the most unlikely forms of music with angst ridden end-of-millennium subject matter, presenting the rock world with its first truly post-modernist star. After living each legendary character to the utmost, he deconstructs that which made him singular; then a new element would arise to confound and entice the masses who thought they had just figured out his latest incarnation. Bowie exemplifies the new aesthetic, from his humble folkie beginnings to the glitter and glam of Ziggy Stardust to the elegance of the Thin White Duke, at each twist and turn of his career, creating more than one myth to harken back to his creative visions.In the beginning ...David Robert Jones was born in Brixton on January 8, 1947. At age thirteen, inspired by the jazz of the West End, he picked up the saxophone and called up Ronnie Ross for lessons. Early bands he played with--the Kon-Rads, The King Bees, the Mannish Boys and the Lower Third--provided him with an introduction into the showy world of pop and mod, and by 1966 he was David Bowie, with long hair and aspirations of stardom rustling about his head. Kenneth Pitt signed on as his manager, and his career began with a handful of mostly forgotten singles but a head full of ideas. It was not until 1969 that the splash onto the charts would begin, with the legendary "Space Oddity" (which peaked at No. 5 in the UK). Amidst his musical wanderings in the late 60's, he experimented with mixed media, cinema, mime, Tibetan Buddhism, acting and love. The album, originally titled David Bowie then subsequently Man of Words, Man of Music, pays homage to all the influences of the London artistic scene. It shows the early song-writing talent that was yet to yield some of rock-n-roll's finest work, even if it would take the rest of the world a few years to catch up with him.Early 70's Bowie's first album, The Man Who Sold The World, was recorded as an entity in itself and marks the first definitive creative stretch for the listener. Mick Ronson's guitars are often referred to as the birthpoint of heavy metal, and certainly the auspicious beginnings of glam rock can be traced here. The album was released by Mercury in April 1971 tominimal fanfare and Bowie took his first trip to the United States to promote it that spring. In May of the same year, Duncan Zowie Haywood Bowie was born to David and his then wife Angela.RCA was the next label to sign Bowie, and after a trip to America to complete the legalities, he returned to London to record two albums nearly back to back. Hunky Dory was built from a six-song demo that had enticed the label to sign him and features "Changes" and "Life On Mars." Almost immediately, it was followed up by the instant classic The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars.1972 was certainly the year that Bowie began to get a glimpse of the power of pop. Previewed in London that spring, his rock-n-roll creation Ziggy Stardust staged one of the most spectacular and innovative live shows to date, and the craze that followed was the beginning of his superstar myth. The summer of 1972 was also a busy one for him in the studio, as he produced albums for Lou Reed (Transformer) and Mott the Hoople (All The Young Dudes, for which he wrote the hit title track). The US "Ziggy" tour began in September, with sold-out shows full of theatrically inspired Japanese costumes, snarling guitars courtesy of Mick Ronson, and a bold, daring approach to performance that propelled the audience into a rock-n-roll fervor. He abruptly put his own creation to rest on June 3, 1973 with the pronouncement: "Of all the shows on the tour, this one will stay with us the longest because not only is this the last show of the tour, but it is the last show we will ever do." This surprised everyone in the house--not least the members of his band.Amidst the Ziggy fever, Aladdin Sane was released in April 1973, inspired by his experiences in America while touring. After putting the Stardust show to bed, he traveled to France to begin work on his next albums. Pin-Ups was the last time that Bowie would record an album with Mick Ronson on guitar and Ken Scott at the production helm. His tribute to the artists that he admired in the London years of 1964-67 was released in October 1973. In April of 1973, his proto-Bladerunner project Diamond Dogs debuted full of tension and angst standing in stark contrast to the disco music that was beginning to crowd the airwaves. In the summer of 1974, he undertook his greatest US tour yet, with an enormous set and choreographed tableaus. The double album David Live was recorded in Philadelphia's Tower Theatre, and serves as a souvenir of this tour.Mid 70's The two previous albums showed hints of Bowie's interest in the music he heard in America. The most direct result of this fascination is the rhythmic, soul-laden Young Americans, released in 1975. A collaboration with John Lennon on "Fame" came out of an impromptu session at Electric Ladyland in New York and was a last-minute addition to the LP. It resulted in Bowie's first ever No. 1 single in the US. Not long after the album came out, he moved to Los Angeles and starred in the science fiction film The Man Who Fell To Earth. After completion of filming, he almost immediately returned to the studio for the recording of Station to Station, a travelogue of sorts. The "White Light" tour followed, this time with an electronic-driven line-up, played out with Brecht- inspired theatricality. A compilation of hits, ChangesOneBowie, was released by RCA in May 1976. Never one to stay in one place too long, shortly after his tour finished, David relocated to the Schonenberg section of Berlin.Late 70's Low and Heroes were recorded during Bowie's sojourn in East Germany where collaborators Brian Eno, Tony Visconti and he adopted new approaches to the songwriting process. In an interview for French radio, Bowie said, "Berlin has the strange ability to make you write only the important things. Anything else you don't mention…and in the end you produce Low." Surrealism and experimentation were the themes of the day, and the incorporation of cut-and-paste techniques into unique instrumentation birthed what are now heralded as luminary ambient soundscapes. Released in 1977, Low confused RCA and though the masses were not quite sure what to make of the effort, the single "Sound and Vision" eventually hit No. 2 on the British charts. Friend Iggy Pop was in Berlin at the time as well and Bowie took time out of his own recording to produce and collaborate with him on The Idiot and later Lust for Life. He also overcame his long-publicized fear of flying to accompany Pop on tour as pianist that summer.The second in his three-album triptych, Heroes prominently features Robert Fripp on guitar and a more optimistic outlook overall. One of his greatest singles, the title track from this album recounts a romantic liaison between lovers near the Berlin Wall. His next foray into film occurred in Just A Gigolo, which he described as "all my thirty-two Elvis Presley movies rolled into one." March of 1978 found him on tour again, and during a May break he narrated "Peter and the Wolf" with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the first of many children's projects he would consistently support over the years (now out of print, the result was a collectible green-vinyl album). Stage was released in September 1978, culled from his recent tour of the States, and features live material from his "Berlin" period. A relocation to Switzerland was to follow, abandoned frequently due to his ever developing love affair with the exotic Indonesia, Africa and the Far East.Recorded in France, Lodger was released in May 1979, and by the end of the year he was again in the studio. Rehearsals also began for his Broadway debut, in the part of the Elephant Man, which opened in September 1980 to rave reviews.The 80's In the same month, Scary Monsters was released. After this period, he dropped out of the public eye, while remaining involved with various film projects. 1982 saw him playing the male lead in The Hunger, the role of Celliers in Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, and writing the theme song for the movie Cat People. Another greatest hits compilation, ChangesTwoBowie, came out in 1982. Officially signed to EMI in 1983, the album Let's Dance followed along with the world-encompassing "Serious Moonlight" tour. In October, RCA released Ziggy Stardust: The Motion Picture Album, capturing the energy of Ziggy and the Spiders during their last show. Shortly thereafter, the movie, originally filmed in 1973, was released as well.During this period Bowie reinvented himself once again. The album Let's Dance, produced by Chic mastermind Nile Rodgers, was perhaps the most straightforward album of his career. It was a collection of elegantly produced, impeccably sung dance floor numbers including the Motown-styled "Modern Love," the darkly romantic "China Girl" (first cut with Iggy Pop in Berlin) and a remake of the movie theme "Cat People." All of the above were substantial radio hits, as was the glossy and romantic title track. The upbeat romantic theme extended to his next album Tonight (1984), though the single "Loving the Alien" drew a prophetic scenario on the Islam/Christian tensions.A moving appearance at Live Aid (where he dedicated "Heroes" to his young son), a duet single with Mick Jagger, and the heavily theatrical Glass Spider tour (with lead guitar by Peter Frampton) all kept Bowie's popularity and mass acceptance going into the 1980's. However, his creative drive had slowed somewhat. Then 1988 brought the biggest surprise of all: he had formed a new band, Tin Machine, with the Sales Brothers (Hunt and Tony, sons of Soupy) and a hot guitar find from Boston, Reeves Gabrels. He was adamant that this would be a full-time band, not a superstar solo project. On their two million-selling albums (plus a limited edition live disc), Tin Machine proved their mettle as a modern alternative live act, with a stripped-down guitar sound, all-new material and a few real surprises (a Pixies cover!). Some fans loved it, others were confused by it and Tin Machine was on hiatus by 1992. Meanwhile, Bowie supported the 1989 release of Rykodisc's box set Sound and Vision with his first full-fledged greatest hits tour, recruiting long-time collaborator Adrian Belew to play lead guitar. At many of the gigs, fans were allowed to pick the songs via phone poll.90's 1993 brought the long-awaited return to solo projects Black Tie White Noise and one of rock's first CD – ROMs entitled Jump. With Nile Rodgers again producing, the album came close to summing up every period of Bowie: with the opening instrumental "The Wedding" (inspired by Bowie's own marriage to model Iman) offering a dance-and-house-inspired, brighter-toned return to the sound of Low; the single "Jump They Say" harking back to funkier times; and the old Cream tune "I Feel Free" marking a long-awaited reunion with Ziggy-era partner Mick Ronson (sadly, Ronson passed away soon after). Reaching No. 1 in the UK album charts, Black Tie White Noise reassured fans that Bowie's creative curiosity was by no means exhausted.By 1994, Bowie and Eno were again collaborating in the studio. The result was the concept album Outside. This complex project touches on the increasing obsession with the human body as art and the paganization of western society. With its package-arts broken-down style, its haunted sound of ruin and its non-linear story-line of art, murder and technology, Outside predates the new sensibility of movies such as Seven, Copycat and the TV shows "The X-Files" and "Millennium." As befits the multiphrenic nature of outsider art and emotion, Bowie sings in any number of voices: one minute the melodramatic crooner, another the stylized Londoner, another the quiet, intimate recluse of the Berlin years. Or, he is vari-speeded among the album's seven characters: on one song a 14-year-old girl, on another a sleazy 78-year-old, on another a 46-year-old Tyrannical Futurist. It is only now, when he has reached his own mid-life, that Bowie can make music that can encompass the point of young, middle-aged and old.1996 was an extraordinarily active year even by David's own feverish standards, switching styles and moods effortlessly, embarking on a confrontational tour around the US with Nine Inch Nails and performing acoustically with Neil Young and Pearl Jam at the Bridge Benefit Concert in San Francisco. He had a triumphant summer headlining Roskilde and the Phoenix Festival, and his electric performance at the VH-1 Fashion Awards on October 25, where he debuted his new single "Little Wonder," was the talk of New York. Then there was the new album Earthling, all very direct, hard-hitting and to the point. The album arose out of the dynamic achieved and harnessed by the end of that summer's tour. The band working on the projects featured Gail Ann Dorsey on bass and vocals, Mike Garson on keyboards, Reeves Gabrels on guitar and synths, and Zachary Alford on drums, the nucleus of the touring outfit. The record features the avant garde drum-n-bass extravaganza and top 20 UK hit "Little Wonder" and the crushing "Dead Man Walking," a reflection on getting older. The next year 1997 was to see a controversial collaboration with Eno in the shape of the "I'm Afraid Of Americans" single ("Not as hostile about Americans as 'Born In The USA.'" --Bowie).This track, complete with the spontaneous Dom & Nic video that found Trent Reznor chasing David through the streets of Greenwich Village, hung around the US charts for three months, finishing the project on a real high. Despite the title, Bowie's American influence seemed to be growing. He has been cited as a guiding star by The Smashing Pumpkins, Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails, among others. He even reached into American film: the movie Basquiat, co-starring Gary Oldman, Christopher Walken and Dennis Hopper, saw him playing the character he immortalized in his 1972 song--Andy Warhol. The film's director was pre-eminent American painter, Julian Schnabel.He continued to break new ground with the Internet-only release of the drum-n-bass single "Telling Lies." In January 1997, he celebrated his fiftieth birthday with an all-star performance at New York's Madison Square Garden. He was joined on stage by old friends Lou Reed, Sonic Youth, Robert Smith, Billy Corgan, Foo Fighters and Frank Black, all of whom played and sang with David to make it one of his most memorable shows. Then he was off once again on a world tour that stormed over fifteen headlining festivals, countless theaters and clubs, and finished with a stadium tour of South America.Already highly acclaimed in the fields of art and music, David has been turning his hand to mastering the information superhighway. 1998 saw the launch of BowieNet (www.davidbowie.com). BowieNet is the world's first artist-created Internet service provider. As the first artist to make a single ("Telling Lies") available exclusively through the Internet, David remains at the cutting edge of artistic endeavor, and utilizes the most up-to-date technology. BowieNet offers uncensored access to the Internet, including news, sport, finance and the very best music and entertainment coverage. For Bowie fans, and indeed all music fans, BowieNet provides previously unreleased material, videos, photos and gig reviews from all musical genres. And as is if that were not enough, BowieNet also gives you real-time chats and cybercasts (both live and archived) from David himself and a host of other stars. So far, BowieNet chats have been conducted with the likes of Ronan Keating, Ronnie Spector, Eddie Izzard, Placebo, Boy George and many others.1999 has been as busy a year as ever for Bowie. With his continuing work on his now highly acclaimed BowieNet website (a nominee for the 1999 WIRED Award for Best Entertainment Site of the Year), David has found time to work on a film Exhuming Mr. Rice, in which he plays the title role. This year also saw the launch of the David Bowie Radio Network on the Rolling Stone Radio website; this station runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.The station's playlist includes 54 tracks, all personally picked and introduced by David. In May, David received an honorary doctorate in music from Berklee College of Music, Boston. In the past, this prestigious doctorate has also been received by BB King, Sting, James Taylor, Dizzy Gillespie and Quincy Jones.1999 also saw the growing relationship between David and Placebo flourish. At the annual BRIT Awards ceremony, David joined the band for a performance of the Marc Bolan classic "Twentieth Century Boy." The performance went down so well with the public that the Mirror newspaper began a mini-campaign for the track to be released as a single and it was not long before the two artists were to team again. July saw David voted as the biggest music star of the 20th century, beating Mick Jagger and Noel Gallagher, by readers of The Sun newspaper. In the same month David was voted the sixth Greatest Star of The Century by Q magazine and its readers. In this poll David was the third highest-ranking star who is still alive.Most importantly October 1999 saw the release of a brand new studio album. hours... which was David's twenty-third solo album, harkening a return to the sounds of the Hunky Dory days. Written solely with long-time collaborator Reeves Gabrels over the last year, hours... could be described as one of David's most autobiographical records to date. Tracks include "Thursday's Child," "Survive" and "The Dreamers." The themes of loss and regret throughout the album are likely to strike hearts universally. With such personal lyrics as "Sometimes I cry my heart to sleep," David is evoking emotions recognizable to us all. This album deals more with real life opposed to imagery and fantasy.2000 and beyondFollowing 'hours….' David enjoyed a period out of the public eye peppered with the odd show and the honor of being voted the most influential artist of all time by the UK's tastemaker tome the NME. During this time another life changing event took place, the birth of David and Iman's first child Alexandria Zahra Jones. Bowie took this time to savor fatherhood but also used the time to write a series of new songs………A series of new songs that all led to a much heralded reunion with Tony Visconti which in turn resulted in a new album Heathen and a change of outlook towards the music industry and the setting up of his own label 'ISO Records' which has now linked up with Columbia Records to release what is probably the most eagerly awaited album of his career.'Tony and I had been wanting to work together again for a few years now' says David. 'Both of us had fairly large commitments and for a long time we couldn't see a space in which we could get anything together. As spring came around, last year, things began to ease up. I told Mark Plati and my band that I was going to disappear for a while and put this thing together with Tony. They were very understanding, they've worked with me long enough to know that we would be back together again before long'.So, diaries cleared, Bowie and Visconti set about compiling what you might call a location report, just outside of Woodstock in New York state. 'I'd been told by guitarist David Torn of a new studio that was near completion called Allaire. Tony and I [took] a trip up a few weeks before we started work there, just to suss it out. In fact, T-Bone Burnett was working there with Natalie Merchant at the time. It's remote, silent and inspirational. We couldn't believe what a find it was'.So taken was he with the setting, David didn't come back to New York again until the record was complete, living in the grounds with his family and eating in a communal dining room. A famously early riser, he put that to good use as Heathen began to come sharply into focus. 'I'd get up around six most mornings and spend them in the studio putting together my chord structures and melodies and words, finding sounds that I wanted to use. Then around ten, Tony would get in and we'd go to work'.Bowie's old friend Pete Townsend's contribution to the album, playing lead guitar on Slow Burn, was not his first with Bowie, as listeners to Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) will remember. Foo Fighters Dave Grohl took the lead on the Neil Young cover 'I've Been Waiting'For a further surprise, there's more Bowie instrumentation on Heathen than anything inmemory. 'I was delighted that so much of what I played remained on the finished work. That's me playing drums over my own loop on the Pixies cover Cactus. In fact the only thing I didn't play on that track was bass. That was Tony. Nearly all the synth work on Heathen is mine and some of the piano'.And the title? 'Heathenism is a state of mind', says Bowie. 'You can take it that I'm referring to one who does not see his world. He has no mental light. He destroys almost unwittingly. He cannot feel any God's presence in his life. He is the 21st century man. There's no theme or concept behind Heathen, just a number of songs, but somehow there is a thread that runs through it that is quite as strong as any of my thematic type albums'.The release of Heathen will be accompanied by a series of concerts across Europe and the USA most notably David's curatorship of the prestigious two week long British 'Meltdown' arts festival involving acts as diverse as The Legendary Stardust Cowboy, Suede, comedian Harry Hill, Coldplay, Television and The Dandy Warhols.'Heathen' hits the streets in the second week of June and will propel David into another phase of his careers still going strong after almost 40 years of adventures in the world of music, film and the arts.To give the last words to the man himself, he says 'What's very enlightening for me right now is that I sense I'm arriving at a place of peace with my writing that I've never experienced before. I think I'm going to be writing some of the most worthwhile things that I've ever written in the coming years. I'm very confident and trusting in my abilities right now.'