David Bowie – The Man Who Fell To Earth

David Bowie, 1975 by Steve Schapiro / GettyImages

David Robert Jones, born on the 8th of January 1947 in London, England, was professionally known as David Bowie. He was a British singer, songwriter, actor, and one of the most influential and iconic musicians of all time. He was acclaimed by critics for his innovative work during the 1970s. His music had a significant impact on popular music.

Bowie developed an interest in music as a child. He studied art, music and design before embarking on a professional career as a musician in 1963. “Space Oddity”, released in 1969, was his first top-five entry on the UK Singles Chart. After a period of experimentation, he re-emerged in 1972 during the glam rock era with his flamboyant alter ego Ziggy Stardust. The character was spearheaded by the success of Bowie’s single “Starman” and album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, which won him widespread popularity.

During his lifetime, his record sales, estimated at over 100 million records worldwide, made him one of the best-selling music artists of all time. In the UK, he was awarded ten platinum, eleven gold and eight silver album certifications, and released 11 number-one albums. In the US, he received five platinum and nine gold certifications. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. Rolling Stone named him among the greatest artists in history and the “greatest rock star ever”.

Album cover: Low, 1977.

Some interesting facts about David Bowie, according to BBC:

Bowie started playing the saxophone when he was 12 years old.

He went to Bromley Technical High School, now called Ravenswood School.

Rock guitarist Peter Frampton was Bowie’s friend at school – his dad was head of the art department. He’s gone on to play guitar with Bowie many times during his career.

Bowie’s first hit in the UK – 1969’s Space Oddity – was used by the BBC in its coverage of the moon landing.

The fictional character of Major Tom has appeared in three Bowie hits – Space Oddity (1969), Ashes To Ashes (1980) and Hallo Spaceboy (1996).

Bowie’s first US number one was his single Fame in 1975. It was co-written by John Lennon and features the former Beatle on backing vocals. “Fame” was his first number one hit in the United States and came out from a chance meeting and jam session with John Lennon. While in New York the two decided to hit the studio. Using a guitar riff written by Carlos Alomar, longtime guitarist, and collaborator to Bowie, Lennon came up with the hook “aim,” which was later turned into “Fame.” Lennon still sings on the final song, too, making for one of the most incredible collaborations of the ’70s.

Director Nicolas Roeg cast Bowie in his first leading role, as a stranded alien in the 1976 film The Man Who Fell to Earth. In one scene, shot in a record store, a poster for Bowie’s Young Americans album can clearly be seen hanging from the ceiling.

He was voted fourth in the BBC’s Culture Show public vote in 2006 to discover Britain’s greatest living icons. Above him were Sir Paul McCartney (3), Morrissey (2) and Sir David Attenborough at number one.

Bing Crosby recorded his last-ever single with David Bowie. Their duet version of The Little Drummer Boy was recorded for Christmas 1977. It was a hit five years later.

Bowie drew, painted, sculpted and wrote in his spare time. His favourite artists were Tintoretto, John Bellany, Erich Heckel, Picasso and Michael Ray Charles.

Moonage Daydream is a song written by David Bowie. It was originally recorded in February 1971 at Radio Luxembourg’s studios in London and released as a single by his short-lived band Arnold Corns in May 1971 on B&C Records. Bowie subsequently re-recorded the song later that year with his backing band the Spiders from Mars – comprising Mick Ronson, Trevor Bolder and Mick Woodmansey – for release on his 1972 album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. The re-recording was co-produced by Ken Scott and recorded at Trident Studios in London in November 1971. The re-recording is a glam rock song that uses melodic and harmonic hooks, as well as percussion and guitar influenced by heavy metal. On the album, the song directly introduces the character Ziggy Stardust, who describes himself as an alien rock superstar who will save the Earth from the impending disaster. It features saxophone played by Bowie and a guitar solo and string arrangement by Ronson.

Discography: David Bowie (1967); David Bowie (1969);The Man Who Sold the World (1970); Hunky Dory (1971);The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972); Aladdin Sane (1973); Pin Ups (1973); Diamond Dogs (1974);Young Americans (1975);Station to Station (1976); Low (1977); Heroes (1977); Lodger (1979); Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) (1980); Let’s Dance (1983); Tonight (1984); Never Let Me Down (1987); Black Tie White Noise (1993); The Buddha of Suburbia (1993); Outside (1995); Earthling (1997); Hours (1999); Heathen (2002); Reality (2003); The Next Day (2013); Blackstar (2016)

David Bowie: 8 January 1947 – 10 January 2016