David Bowie, the infinitely changeable, fiercely forward-looking songwriter who taught generations of musicians about the power of drama, images and personas, died on Sunday, two days after his 69th birthday. His death was confirmed by his publicist, Steve Martin, on Monday morning. No other details were provided. Mr. Bowie had been treated for cancer for the last 18 months, according to a statement on his social-media accounts. “David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family,” a post on his Facebook page read. His last album, “Blackstar,” a collaboration with a jazz quartet that was typically enigmatic and exploratory, was released on Friday — his birthday. He is to be honored with a concert at Carnegie Hall on March 31 featuring the Roots, Cyndi Lauper and the Mountain Goats.
IN 1998, David Bowie sat down for a couple of hours to talk about the art he made and collected. Like other British rockers of his generation, Mr. Bowie had gone to art school, back when he was still called David Jones. At the time we met, he was helping run an art-book publishing company, 21, and moonlighting as an occasional interviewer for Modern Painters, the British magazine. He welcomed the chance to discuss art. He was also exhibiting his own work, with some trepidation, as he acknowledged in the interview. His pictures suggested a fondness for Picabia, Schiele and the German-born British painter Frank Auerbach, among others. He was candid, friendly and at ease talking about art, which came across as a pleasure and genuine passion, as if the role of artist-connoisseur were not just another identity Mr. Bowie donned and shed but something truly near to the heart of David Jones.
I can't remember how I met David — which is weird — but we used to hang out in London a lot in the early days of the Seventies; we were at a lot of parties together. He would come around my house and play me all his music — I remember him playing me different mixes of "Jean Genie," which was really kind of Stones-y, in a way. That's what I enjoyed: watching him develop as an artist. There was always an exchange of information within our friendship. And I suppose there was always an element of competition between us, but it never felt overwhelming. When he'd come over, we'd talk about our work — a new guitarist, a new way of writing, style and photographers. We had a lot in common in wanting to do big things onstage — using interesting designs, narratives, personalities.
Bowie — born David Jones on January 8th, 1947 in London — took up the saxophone at age 13, and when he left Bromley Technical High School (where a friend permanently paralyzed his left pupil in a fight) to work as a commercial artist three years later, he had started playing in bands (the Konrads, the King Bees, David Jones and the Buzz). Three of Jones' early bands — the King Bees, the Manish Boys (featuring session guitarist Jimmy Page), and Davey Jones and the Lower Third — each recorded a single. He changed his name to David Bowie (after the knife) to avoid confusion with the Monkees' Davy Jones, and in 1966 recorded three singles for Pye Records; the following year he signed with Deram, issuing several singles and The World of David Bowie (most of the songs from that album, and others from that time, were collected on Images 1966-67). After Feathers broke up, Bowie helped start the experimental Beckenham Arts Lab in 1969. To finance the project, he signed with Mercury. Man of Words, Man of Music included "Space Oddity," which the album would later be re-titled after the single's release was timed to coincide with the U.S. moon landing. It became a European hit that year but did not make the U.S. charts until its rerelease in 1973, when it reached Number 15.n those early records, Bowie appears in the singer-songwriter mold. In 1967 he spent a few weeks at a Buddhist monastery in Scotland, then apprenticed in Lindsay Kemp's avant-garde theater and mime troupe and in 1968 started his own troupe, Feathers.Bowie started changing his image in late 1971. He told Melody Maker he was gay in January 1972 and started work on a new theatrical production. Enter Ziggy Stardust, Bowie's projection of a doomed messianic rock star. Bowie became Ziggy; Ronson, Woodmansey and bassist Trevor Bolder became Ziggy's band, the Spiders From Mars. The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars (Number 75, 1972) and the rerelease of Man of Words as Space Oddity (Number 16, 1972) made Bowie the star he was portraying. The live show, with Bowie wearing futuristic costumes, makeup and bright orange hair (at a time when the rock-star uniform was jeans), was a sensation in London and New York. It took Aladdin Sane (Number 17, 1973) to break Bowie in the U.S. Bolan and other British glitter-rock performers barely made the Atlantic crossing, but Bowie emerged a star. "Fame," cowritten by Bowie, Almoar and John Lennon, was Bowie's first American Number One single (1975). Bowie moved to L.A. and became a fixture of American pop culture. He played the title role in Nicolas Roeg's The Man Who Fell to Earth in 1976; the same year, he released Station to Station (Number Three, 1976), another album of "plastic soul" recorded with the Young Americans band, portrayed Bowie as the Thin White Duke (also the title of his unpublished autobiography). His highest charting album, Station to Station contained his second Top 10 single, "Golden Years" (Number 10, 1975). Bowie complained life had become predictable and left L.A. He returned to the U.K. for the first time in three years before settling in Berlin, where he lived in semiseclusion, painting, studying art and recording with Brian Eno. when bowie died it left every one in tears After his unexpected death, there was a huge outpouring of grief and disbelief from his fans and musicians around the globe, since few had been aware of his health issues up until that point.