131 Facts About David Bowie


David Robert Jones, known professionally as David Bowie, was an English singer-songwriter and actor.


David Bowie's career was marked by reinvention and visual presentation, and his music and stagecraft had a significant impact on popular music.


David Bowie developed an interest in music from an early age.


David Bowie studied art, music and design before embarking on a professional career as a musician in 1963.


David Bowie released a string of unsuccessful singles with local bands and a solo album before achieving his first top five entry on the UK Singles Chart with "Space Oddity", released in 1969.


In 1975, David Bowie's style shifted towards a sound he characterised as "plastic soul", initially alienating many of his UK fans but garnering him his first major US crossover success with the number-one single "Fame" and the album Young Americans.


In 1976, David Bowie starred in the cult film The Man Who Fell to Earth and released Station to Station.


David Bowie achieved his greatest commercial success in the 1980s with Let's Dance.


David Bowie continued acting; his roles included Major Jack Celliers in Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence, Jareth the Goblin King in Labyrinth, Pontius Pilate in The Last Temptation of Christ and Nikola Tesla in The Prestige, among other film and television appearances and cameos.


David Bowie stopped touring after 2004 and his last live performance was at a charity event in 2006.


David Bowie returned from a decade-long recording hiatus in 2013 with The Next Day and remained musically active until his death from liver cancer in 2016.


David Bowie died two days after both his 69th birthday and the release of his final album, Blackstar.


David Bowie was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.


David Bowie's mother, Margaret Mary "Peggy", was born at Shorncliffe Army Camp near Cheriton, Kent.


David Bowie worked as a waitress at a cinema in Royal Tunbridge Wells.


From 1953 David Bowie moved with his family to Bickley and then Bromley Common, before settling in Sundridge Park in 1955 where he attended Burnt Ash Junior School.


David Bowie's voice was considered "adequate" by the school choir, and he demonstrated above-average abilities in playing the recorder.


David Bowie was first impressed with Presley when he saw his cousin Kristina dance to "Hound Dog" soon after its release in 1956.


David Bowie's maternal half-brother, Terry Burns, was a substantial influence on his early life.


Burns, who was 10 years older than David Bowie, had schizophrenia and seizures, and lived alternately at home and in psychiatric wards; while living with David Bowie, he introduced the younger man to many of his lifelong influences, such as modern jazz, Buddhism, Beat poetry and the occult.


David Bowie studied art, music and design, including layout and typesetting.


David Bowie was receiving lessons from baritone saxophonist Ronnie Ross.


David Bowie received a serious injury at school in 1962 when his friend George Underwood punched him in the left eye during a fight over a girl.


David Bowie formed his first band, the Konrads, in 1962 at the age of 15.


When David Bowie left the technical school the following year, he informed his parents of his intention to become a pop star.


David Bowie's mother arranged his employment as an electrician's mate.


Frustrated by his bandmates' limited aspirations, David Bowie left the Konrads and joined another band, the King Bees.


David Bowie departed the Lower Third after the single's release, partly due to Horton's influence, and released two more singles for Pye, "Do Anything You Say" and "I Dig Everything", both of which featured a new band called the Buzz, before signing with Deram Records.


Around this time David Bowie joined the Riot Squad; their recordings, which included one of David Bowie's original songs and material by the Velvet Underground, went unreleased.


In September, David Bowie recorded "Let Me Sleep Beside You" and "Karma Man", both rejected by Deram and left unreleased until 1970.


The tracks marked the beginning of David Bowie's working relationship with producer Tony Visconti which, with large gaps, lasted for the rest of David Bowie's career.


The band David Bowie assembled comprised John Cambridge, a drummer David Bowie met at the Arts Lab, Visconti on bass and Mick Ronson on electric guitar.


Not long after, David Bowie fired his manager and replaced him with Tony Defries.


David Bowie later covered "I Took a Trip on a Gemini Space Ship" on 2002's Heathen.


David Bowie's first release through RCA, it was a commercial failure, partly due lack of promotion from the label.


David Bowie contributed backing vocals, keyboards and guitar to Reed's 1972 solo breakthrough Transformer, co-producing the album with Ronson.


Pin Ups, a collection of covers of his 1960s favourites, followed in October, producing a UK number three hit in his version of the McCoys's "Sorrow" and itself peaking at number one, making David Bowie the best-selling act of 1973 in the UK.


David Bowie moved to the US in 1974, initially staying in New York City before settling in Los Angeles.


David Bowie later commented that the accompanying live album, David Live, ought to have been titled "David Bowie Is Alive and Well and Living Only in Theory".


David Bowie later blamed his pro-fascism comments and his behaviour during the period on his cocaine addiction, the character of the Thin White Duke and his life living in Los Angeles, a city he later said "should be wiped off the face of the Earth".


David Bowie later apologised for these statements, and throughout the 1980s and 1990s criticised racism in European politics and the American music industry.


David Bowie recorded narration for an adaptation of Sergei Prokofiev's classical composition Peter and the Wolf, which was released as an album in May 1978.


The final piece in what David Bowie called his "triptych", Lodger, eschewed the minimalist, ambient nature of its two predecessors, making a partial return to the drum- and guitar-based rock and pop of his pre-Berlin era.


David Bowie paired with Queen in 1981 for a one-off single release, "Under Pressure".


David Bowie was given the lead role in the BBC's 1982 televised adaptation of Bertolt Brecht's play Baal.


David Bowie reached his peak of popularity and commercial success in 1983 with Let's Dance.


At the 1984 MTV Video Music Awards David Bowie received two awards including the inaugural Video Vanguard Award.


Tonight, another dance-oriented album, found David Bowie collaborating with Pop and Tina Turner.


The album bore the transatlantic top 10 hit "Blue Jean", itself the inspiration for the Julien Temple-directed short film Jazzin' for Blue Jean, in which David Bowie played the dual roles of romantic protagonist Vic and arrogant rock star Screaming Lord Byron.


In 1985, David Bowie performed at Wembley Stadium for Live Aid, a multi-venue benefit concert for Ethiopian famine relief.


David Bowie worked with composer Trevor Jones and wrote five original songs for the 1986 film Labyrinth, which he starred in.


David Bowie later described it as his "nadir", calling it "an awful album".


David Bowie supported the album on the 86-concert Glass Spider Tour.


Tin Machine began work on a second album, but recording halted while David Bowie conducted the seven-month Sound+Vision Tour, which brought him commercial success and acclaim.


In October 1990, David Bowie and Somali-born supermodel Iman were introduced by a mutual friend.


Tin Machine toured again, but after the live album Tin Machine Live: Oy Vey, Baby failed commercially, David Bowie dissolved the band and resumed his solo career.


David Bowie continued to collaborate with Gabrels for the rest of the 1990s.


In 1993, David Bowie released his first solo offering since his Tin Machine departure, the soul, jazz and hip-hop influenced Black Tie White Noise.


David Bowie explored new directions on The Buddha of Suburbia, which began as a soundtrack album for the BBC television adaptation of Hanif Kureishi's novel of the same name before turning into a full album; only the title track was used in the programme.


Nevertheless, it later received critical praise as David Bowie's "lost great album".


David Bowie reunited with Visconti in 1998 to record " Sky Life" for The Rugrats Movie.


David Bowie sang in a duet of his 1971 song "Changes" with Butterfly Boucher for the 2004 animated film Shrek 2.


David Bowie contributed backing vocals on TV on the Radio's song "Province" for their album Return to Cookie Mountain, and joined with Lou Reed on Danish alt-rockers Kashmir's 2005 album No Balance Palace.


The performance marked the last time David Bowie performed his music on stage.


David Bowie was chosen to curate the 2007 High Line Festival.


David Bowie performed on Scarlett Johansson's 2008 album of Tom Waits covers, Anywhere I Lay My Head.


In mid-2014, David Bowie was diagnosed with liver cancer, which he kept private.


David Bowie continued working throughout 2015, secretly recording his final album Blackstar in New York between January and May In August, it was announced that he was writing songs for a Broadway musical based on the SpongeBob SquarePants cartoon series; the final production included a retooled version of "No Control" from Outside.


David Bowie died two days later, after which Visconti revealed that Bowie had planned the album to be his swan song, and a "parting gift" for his fans before his death.


The day following his death, online viewing of David Bowie's music skyrocketed, breaking the record for Vevo's most viewed artist in a single day.


David Bowie's acting career was "productively selective", largely eschewing starring roles for cameos and supporting parts; he once described his film career as "splashing in the kids' pool".


David Bowie's acting career predated his commercial breakthrough as a musician.


David Bowie's first film was a short fourteen-minute black-and-white film called The Image, shot in September 1967.


From December 1967 to March 1968, David Bowie acted in mime Lindsay Kemp's theatrical production Pierrot in Turquoise, during which he performed several songs from his self-titled debut album.


In late January 1968, David Bowie filmed a walk-on role for the BBC drama series Theatre 625 that aired in May He appeared as a walk-on extra in the 1969 film adaptation of Leslie Thomas's 1966 comic novel The Virgin Soldiers.


In 1978, Bowie had a starring role in Just a Gigolo, directed by David Hemmings, portraying Prussian officer Paul von Przygodski, who, returning from World War I, discovers life has changed and becomes a gigolo employed by a Baroness, playing by Marlene Dietrich.


The film was a critical and commercial failure, and David Bowie expressed disappointment in the finished product.


From July 1980 to January 1981, David Bowie played Joseph Merrick in the Broadway theatre production The Elephant Man, which he undertook wearing no stage make-up, earning critical praise for his performance.


David Bowie made three on-screen appearances in 1983, the first as a vampire in Tony Scott's erotic horror film The Hunger, with Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon.


David Bowie later said that he felt "very uncomfortable" with the role, but was happy to work with Scott.


David Bowie's third role in 1983 was a small cameo in Mel Damski's pirate comedy Yellowbeard, heralded by several members of the Monty Python group.


David Bowie filmed a 30-second introduction to the animated film The Snowman, based on Raymond Briggs's book of the same name.


In 1985, David Bowie had a supporting role as hitman Colin in John Landis's Into the Night.


David Bowie declined to play the villain Max Zorin in the James Bond film A View to a Kill.


David Bowie reteamed with Julian Temple for Absolute Beginners, a rock musical film adapted from Colin MacInnes's book of the same name about life in late 1950s London, in a supporting role as ad man Vendice Partners.


In 1991, David Bowie reteamed with Landis for an episode of the HBO sitcom Dream On and played a disgruntled restaurant employee opposite Rosanna Arquette in The Linguini Incident.


David Bowie co-starred in Giovanni Veronesi's Spaghetti Western Il Mio West as the most feared gunfighter in the region.


In 1999, David Bowie voiced two characters in the Sega Dreamcast game Omikron: The Nomad Soul, his only appearance in a video game.


In Mr Rice's Secret, David Bowie played the title role as the neighbour of a terminally ill 12-year-old.


David Bowie appeared as himself in the 2001 Ben Stiller comedy Zoolander, judging a "walk-off" between rival male models, and in Eric Idle's 2002 mockumentary The Rutles 2: Can't Buy Me Lunch.


David Bowie portrayed a fictionalised version of physicist and inventor Nikola Tesla in Christopher Nolan's film The Prestige, which was about the bitter rivalry between two magicians in the late 19th century.


Nolan later claimed that David Bowie was his only preference to play Tesla, and that he personally appealed to David Bowie to take the role after he initially passed.


David Bowie eventually cast actor and lead singer of Thirty Seconds to Mars, Jared Leto.


David Bowie moved to Switzerland in 1976, purchasing a chalet in the hills to the north of Lake Geneva.


David Bowie devoted more time to his painting, and produced a number of post-modernist pieces.


One of David Bowie's paintings sold at auction in late 1990 for $500, and the cover for his 1995 album Outside is a close-up of a self-portrait he painted that same year.


Outside of music, David Bowie dabbled in several forms of writings during his life.


David Bowie heavily contributed to the 2002 Genesis Publications memoir of the Ziggy Stardust years, Moonage Daydream, which was rereleased in 2022.


David Bowie wrote an appreciation piece in Rolling Stone for Nine Inch Nails in 2005 and an essay for the booklet accompanying Iggy Pop's A Million in Prizes: The Anthology the same year.


David Bowie used this income to buy songs owned by Defries.


David Bowie particularly strove to emulate the British musical theatre singer-songwriter and actor Anthony Newley, whose vocal style he frequently adopted, and made prominent use of for his 1967 debut release, David Bowie.


David Bowie met dancer Lindsay Kemp in 1967 and enrolled in his dance class at the London Dance Centre.


David Bowie commented in 1972 that meeting Kemp was when his interest in image "really blossomed".


David Bowie met Somali-American model Iman in Los Angeles following the Sound+Vision Tour in October 1990.


In 1983, David Bowie told Rolling Stone writer Kurt Loder that his public declaration of bisexuality was "the biggest mistake I ever made" and "I was always a closet heterosexual".


In 1993, David Bowie said he had an "undying" belief in the "unquestionable" existence of God.


At the 2014 Brit Awards, David Bowie became the oldest recipient of a Brit Award in the ceremony's history when he won the award for British Male Solo Artist, which was collected on his behalf by Kate Moss.


David Bowie had been diagnosed eighteen months earlier but had not made his condition public.


David Bowie noted that Bowie had kept working during the illness.


David Bowie was an extraordinary man, full of love and life.


Apart from "Lazarus", the EP includes three songs that David Bowie recorded during the Blackstar sessions, but were left off the album and appeared on the soundtrack album for the Lazarus musical in October 2016.


At the 59th Annual Grammy Awards in 2017, David Bowie won all five nominated awards: Best Rock Performance; Best Alternative Music Album; Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical; Best Recording Package; and Best Rock Song.


In September 2021, David Bowie's estate signed a distribution deal with Warner Music Group, beginning in 2023, covering David Bowie's recordings from 2000 through 2016.


David Bowie was dubbed the "chameleon of rock" by numerous publications and biographers due to his constant reinvention throughout his career.


Perone credited David Bowie with having "brought sophistication to rock music", and critical reviews frequently acknowledged the intellectual depth of his work and influence.


The BBC's arts editor Will Gompertz likened David Bowie to Pablo Picasso, writing that he was "an innovative, visionary, restless artist who synthesised complex avant garde concepts into beautifully coherent works that touched the hearts and minds of millions".


Buckley called the era "bloated, self-important, leather-clad, self-satisfied"; then David Bowie "subverted the whole notion of what it was to be a rock star".


Alexis Petridis of The Guardian wrote that David Bowie was confirmed by 1980 to be "the most important and influential artist since the Beatles".


Neil McCormick of The Daily Telegraph stated that David Bowie had "one of the supreme careers in popular music, art and culture of the 20th century" and "he was too inventive, too mercurial, too strange for all but his most devoted fans to keep up with".


The BBC's Mark Easton argued that David Bowie provided fuel for "the creative powerhouse that Britain has become" by challenging future generations "to aim high, to be ambitious and provocative, to take risks".


In 2006, David Bowie was voted the fourth greatest living British icon in a poll held by the BBC's Culture Show.


An exhibition of Bowie artefacts, called David Bowie Is, was organised by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and shown there in 2013.


In 1999, David Bowie was made a Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government.


David Bowie received an honorary doctorate from Berklee College of Music the same year.


David Bowie declined the royal honour of Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2000, and turned down a knighthood in 2003.


David Bowie was announced as the best-selling vinyl artist of the 21st century in 2022.


David Bowie was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996 and into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005.


David Bowie was inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 2013.


Days after David Bowie's death, Rolling Stone contributor Rob Sheffield proclaimed him "the greatest rock star ever".


David Bowie ranked 32nd on the 2023 Rolling Stone list of the 200 Greatest Singers of All Time.


In March 2017, David Bowie featured on a series of UK postage stamps issued by the Royal Mail.