The family lived at 40 Stansfield Road, on the boundary between Brixton and Stockwell in the south London borough of Lambeth. Bowie attended Stockwell Infants School until he was six years old, acquiring a reputation as a gifted and single-minded child—and a defiant brawler.
Two years later, he started attending Burnt Ash Junior School. His voice was considered "adequate" by the school choir, and he demonstrated above-average abilities in playing the recorder. It really impressed me, the power of the music.
I started getting records immediately after that. Despite its status it was, by the time David arrived in , as rich in arcane ritual as any [English] public school.
There were houses named after eighteenth-century statesmen like Pitt and Wilberforce. There was a uniform, and an elaborate system of rewards and punishments.
There was also an accent on languages, science and particularly design, where a collegiate atmosphere flourished under the tutorship of Owen Frampton.
In David's account, Frampton led through force of personality, not intellect; his colleagues at Bromley Tech were famous for neither, and yielded the school's most gifted pupils to the arts, a regime so liberal that Frampton actively encouraged his own son, Peter , to pursue a musical career with David, a partnership briefly intact thirty years later.
After his half-brother Terry Burns introduced him to modern jazz, his enthusiasm for players like Charles Mingus and John Coltrane led his mother to give him a Grafton saxophone in He was soon receiving lessons from baritone saxophonist Ronnie Ross.
After a series of operations during a four-month hospitalisation,  his doctors determined that the damage could not be fully repaired and Bowie was left with faulty depth perception and a permanently dilated pupil , which gave a false impression of a change in the iris' colour ; the eye would later become one of Bowie's most recognisable features. Early career to debut album[ edit ] A trade ad of Bowie in In , Bowie formed his first band at the age of 15, named the Konrads.
Playing guitar-based rock and roll at local youth gatherings and weddings, the Konrads had a varying line-up of between four and eight members, Underwood among them.
His mother promptly arranged his employment as an electrician's mate. Frustrated by his bandmates' limited aspirations, Bowie left the Konrads and joined another band, the King Bees.
He wrote to the newly successful washing-machine entrepreneur John Bloom inviting him to "do for us what Brian Epstein has done for the Beatles —and make another million. Dissatisfied with the King Bees and their repertoire of Howlin' Wolf and Willie Dixon covers, Bowie quit the band less than a month later to join the Mannish Boys, another blues outfit, who incorporated folk and soul—"I used to dream of being their Mick Jagger ", Bowie was to recall.
Declaring that he would exit the pop music world "to study mime at Sadler's Wells ", Bowie nevertheless remained with the Lower Third.
His new manager, Ralph Horton, later instrumental in his transition to solo artist, soon witnessed Bowie's move to yet another group, the Buzz, yielding the singer's fifth unsuccessful single release, " Do Anything You Say ". While with the Buzz, Bowie also joined the Riot Squad ; their recordings, which included one of Bowie's original songs and material by The Velvet Underground , went unreleased. Ken Pitt, introduced by Horton, took over as Bowie's manager. Released six weeks later, his album debut, David Bowie , an amalgam of pop, psychedelia , and music hall , met the same fate.
It was his last release for two years. His day-to-day life was the most theatrical thing I had ever seen, ever. It was everything I thought Bohemia probably was. I joined the circus. Playing acoustic guitar, Farthingale formed a group with Bowie and guitarist John Hutchinson; between September and early the trio gave a small number of concerts combining folk, Merseybeat , poetry, and mime.
The Arts Lab hosted a free festival in a local park, the subject of his song " Memory of a Free Festival ". Featuring philosophical post- hippie lyrics on peace, love, and morality, its acoustic folk rock occasionally fortified by harder rock, the album was not a commercial success at the time of its release. They married within a year. Her impact on him was immediate, and her involvement in his career far-reaching, leaving manager Ken Pitt with limited influence which he found frustrating.
Known as the Hype , the bandmates created characters for themselves and wore elaborate costumes that prefigured the glam style of the Spiders from Mars.
After a disastrous opening gig at the London Roundhouse , they reverted to a configuration presenting Bowie as a solo artist. Matters came to a head when an enraged Bowie accused the drummer of the disturbance, exclaiming "You're fucking up my album. This resulted in years of litigation that concluded with Bowie having to pay Pitt compensation. To promote it in the US, Mercury Records financed a coast-to-coast publicity tour across America in which Bowie, between January and February , was interviewed by radio stations and the media.
Exploiting his androgynous appearance, the original cover of the UK version unveiled two months later depicted the singer wearing a dress: The album saw the partial return of the fey pop singer of "Space Oddity", with light fare such as " Kooks ", a song written for his son, Duncan Zowie Haywood Jones , born on 30 May. It was not a significant commercial success at the time. The album, which remained in the chart for two years, was soon joined there by the 6-month-old Hunky Dory.
Described by Bowie as "Ziggy goes to America", it contained songs he wrote while travelling to and across the US during the earlier part of the Ziggy tour, which now continued to Japan to promote the new album. Onstage I achieve emotion.
It's probably why I prefer dressing up as Ziggy to being David. Ziggy, Bowie said, "wouldn't leave me alone for years. That was when it all started to go sour My whole personality was affected. It became very dangerous. I really did have doubts about my sanity. Footage from the final show was released the same year for the film Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.
A pioneer of glam rock , Bowie performed as the character Ziggy Stardust, backed by the Spiders from Mars. Problems playing this file? After breaking up the Spiders from Mars, Bowie attempted to move on from his Ziggy persona. His back catalogue was now highly sought after: It brought the total number of Bowie albums concurrently on the UK chart to six.
Choreographed by Toni Basil , and lavishly produced with theatrical special effects, the high-budget stage production was filmed by Alan Yentob. The resulting documentary, Cracked Actor , featured a pasty and emaciated Bowie: David Live nevertheless solidified Bowie's status as a superstar, charting at No. It also spawned a UK No. After a break in Philadelphia , where Bowie recorded new material, the tour resumed with a new emphasis on soul. Biographer Christopher Sandford writes, "Over the years, most British rockers had tried, one way or another, to become black-by-extension.
Few had succeeded as Bowie did now. Lennon called Bowie's work "great, but it's just rock'n'roll with lipstick on". At the culmination of the ensuing months-long legal dispute, he watched, as described by Sandford, "millions of dollars of his future earnings being surrendered" in what were "uniquely generous terms for Defries", then "shut himself up in West 20th Street, where for a week his howls could be heard through the locked attic door.
Visually, the character was an extension of Thomas Jerome Newton, the extraterrestrial being he portrayed in the film The Man Who Fell to Earth the same year. The extent to which drug addiction was now affecting Bowie was made public when Russell Harty interviewed the singer for his London Weekend Television talk show in anticipation of the album's supporting tour. Shortly before the satellite-linked interview was scheduled to commence, the death of the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco was announced.
Bowie was asked to relinquish the satellite booking, to allow the Spanish Government to put out a live newsfeed. This he refused to do, and his interview went ahead. In the ensuing lengthy conversation with Harty, Bowie was incoherent and looked "disconnected".
Featuring a starkly lit set, the Isolar — Tour with its iconic color newsprint Isolar concert program, highlighted songs from the album, including the dramatic and lengthy title track , the ballads " Wild Is the Wind " and " Word on a Wing ", and the funkier " TVC 15 " and " Stay ". The core band that coalesced to record this album and tour—rhythm guitarist Carlos Alomar , bassist George Murray , and drummer Dennis Davis —continued as a stable unit for the remainder of the s.
The tour was highly successful but mired in political controversy. Arriving in an open-top Mercedes convertible , Bowie waved to the crowd in a gesture that some alleged was a Nazi salute , which was captured on camera and published in NME. Bowie said the photographer simply caught him in mid-wave.
The main thing I was functioning on was mythology I'd discovered King Arthur ". He had some very bad experiences with hard drugs. Discussing his flirtations with fascism in a interview with NME, Bowie explained that Los Angeles was "where it had all happened.
The fucking place should be wiped off the face of the Earth. To be anything to do with rock and roll and go and live in Los Angeles is, I think, just heading for disaster. Berlin era[ edit ] Main article: Berlin Trilogy Bowie moved to Switzerland in , purchasing a chalet in the hills to the north of Lake Geneva.
In the new environment, his cocaine use decreased and he found time for other pursuits outside his musical career. When on tour, he took to sketching in a notebook, and photographing scenes for later reference. Not only did he become a well-known patron of expressionist art: Although he completed the album in November , it took his unsettled record company another three months to release it.
Despite these forebodings, Low yielded the UK No. Leading contemporary composer Philip Glass described Low as "a work of genius" in , when he used it as the basis for his Symphony No.
One of the ambient rock songs to emerge from Bowie's Berlin Trilogy era, "Heroes" gained lasting popularity. Echoing Low's minimalist, instrumental approach, the second of the trilogy, "Heroes" , incorporated pop and rock to a greater extent, seeing Bowie joined by guitarist Robert Fripp. Its title-track , though only reaching No. Five years later, the duet proved a worldwide seasonal hit, charting in the UK at No. By now he had broken his drug addiction; biographer David Buckley writes that Isolar II was "Bowie's first tour for five years in which he had probably not anaesthetised himself with copious quantities of cocaine before taking the stage.
Without the oblivion that drugs had brought, he was now in a healthy enough mental condition to want to make friends. The result was a complex mixture of new wave and world music , in places incorporating Hijaz non-Western scales. The song gave international exposure to the underground New Romantic movement when Bowie visited the London club "Blitz"—the main New Romantic hangout—to recruit several of the regulars including Steve Strange of the band Visage to act in the accompanying video, renowned as one of the most innovative of all time.