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David Bowie

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Katelyn Perry

on 12 December 2013

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Transcript of David Bowie

... is a musician from the late 1960's, who became most popular in the 1970's, and still remains famous and praised today. He is famous for pioneering the Glam Rock genre by creating an image for himself with his portrayal of characters through his music, and having those characters present for his live performances. His music is also revered for celebrating the outcasts of society and embracing the fact that everyone is unique.

He also told David Jones to change his name so as not to become confused with another British singer named Davy Jones, who became a famous member of the Monkees. David chose the name Bowie after the knife, believing that the surname, "suggested cutting through to deeper truths".
Bowie's first album,
David Bowie
, was released in

June 1967.
David Robert Jones was born on Janurary 8th, 1947 in Brixton, London. During the sixities, he was in and out of many R&B and mod groups. Then he met Ken Pitt, who had represented Liberace and promoted a Bob Dylan tour of England, who became his manager and gave him a solo contract.
This first album and it's singles were commercial failures. It wasn't until later that he began to become popular.
In the cover album booklet, Bowie himself describes 'Pin Ups' as:
"These songs are among my favourites from the '64–67' period of London."
Iggy Pop
Black Tie White Noise
The Next Day
Space Oddity
The Man Who Sold the World
Space Oddity introduced listeners his new idea of becoming a character through his music, with the song, "Space Oddity".
The Man Who Sold the World cover caused controversy because it depicted Bowie wearing a dress and dawning a wig. This image supports his developed pro-equality, androgynous image.
Major Tom
With his song "Space Oddity", David Bowie introduced his first character who goes by the name 'Major Tom'. He is described as an astronaut left alone in space. Bowie presented this character who that exemplifies his connection to an audience of people who feel that they are outcasts of society.
Hunky Dory
#128 on Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Songs of All Time
"...challenged rock audiences to 'turn and face the strange.'... Bowie fans adopted it as the theme song for the man... The poignant sax solo at the end is played by Bowie himself."
Listening Guide for "Changes":
Instrumentation and Vocals: The song starts with piano, drums then start up when Bowie begins to sing ("Oh Yeah"), and the piano is still in the background music when the lyrical singing begins. The drums return to company the piano when the chorus begins, where Bowie's singing is overlapped. Bass is heard in the backbeat playing notes along with the piano during the chorus. Then some horns are heard in the instrumentation after the chorus. Saxophone is heard companied by piano after singing ceases, until the songs ends.
Meaning: The song details the realization of someone who is not satisfied with how they are living their life. They are following society's rules of acquiring wealth to feel fulfilled, instead of following their own unique path in life to find happiness. They then decide to embrace the "changes" that come along with discovering what they want to do with their life while they are still young; even if some people try to discourage them along the way.
This is the music video for Bowie's song "Life On Mars?" from his album Hunky Dory. The video depicts how Bowie uses his androgynous image to company his music. The make up and costuming is frequently seen throughout Bowie's career.
The Rise and Fall of
Ziggy Stardust
and the Spiders From Mars
This is the album that gave David Bowie commercial, international success with the introduction of his most famous character 'Ziggy Stardust'.
"Ziggy Stardust"
#282 on Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Songs of All Time
""I wasn't at all surprised 'Ziggy Stardust' made my career," Bowie told ROLLING STONE. "I packaged a totally credible plastic rock star." This glam power ballad told the story of his most famous alter ego over Mick Ronson's flash guitars. Bowie and Ziggy became so inextricably linked that Bowie's over-the-top manager, Tony Defries, demanded that all his employees get Ziggy haircuts."
Ziggy Stardust was a sci- fi character who was a pop star with an ultimately doomed career that coincided with the end of the world. Bowie continued his theme of relating the emptiness abandonment of space with not being "acceptable" for society by setting Ziggy with the 'Spiders from Mars".
July 3, 1973 Bowie retired Ziggy in a London show captured in this video documentary.
In a much shorter performance, this video depicts the visual syncopation Bowie had with his band: all sporting flashy clothing and relatively the same hairdo. He performs the song "Starman"off his 1972 album 'The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars'.
Mott the Hoople
Bowie wrote the song "All the Young Dudes" and gave it to UK rock band Mott the Hoople, which they released in July of 1972. This song went on to become the song the group is most known for. In addition to being remembered for his individual body of musical work and image, this shows how Bowie has impacted music's history by contributing to other artists.
"I'm thinking, 'He wants to give us that?' " said drummer Dale Griffin. "He must be crazy!"
Lou Reed
Another musician Bowie chose to aid was Lou Reed. Two years after he quit The Velvet Underground Bowie convinced Reed to go solo. In 1972, he produced Reed's 'Transformer' album featuring the song that re-launched his career "Walk On the Wild Side".
Aladdin Sane
This album cover is the image Bowie is most known for, the make up of which has been recreated many times .
This new character of his he described as "a lad insane", an artist drowned in sex, drugs, and celebrity.
Pin Ups
Bowie covered songs by The Pretty Young Things, Them, The Yardbirds, Pink Floyd, The Mojos, The Who, The Easybeats, The Merseys, and The Kinks.
Raw Power
by The Stooges
Bowie produced the American rock band, The Stooges, third album 'Raw Power'. This album gave the band a resurgence of popularity during their declining years.
Diamond Dogs
Young Americans
"Young Americans", #486 on Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Songs of All Time
"...Bowie traded his glammed-out Ziggy Stardust persona for an exploration of what he called 'plastic soul.' Yet this R&B homage is one of his warmest, wildest tales...'It's about a newlywed couple who don't know if they really like each other', Bowie said."
Wrote the song "Fame" with fellow musician John Lennon.
Station to Station
When Bowie began touring 1976, he had redefined his image
yet again: dressed in
all black except for a white dress shirt, blond hair slicked back. This character is known as 'The Thin White Duke'.
Between the years 1974- 1976, Bowie had placed five straight albums in American Top 10.

"... from 1971 to 1974 - Hunky Dory, Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, Aladdin Sane, and Diamond Dogs - amount to one of the grand epics of rock & roll: a chronicle about the fall of worlds within and without - the disintegration of ego and of society; and about hard-won new values that may or may not be salvation. Most obviously, though, the albums were about sexual realizations that popular culture had never permitted before." (How Ziggy Stardust Fell to Eath, Rolling Stone Issue #1149)
The Man Who Fell to Earth
David Bowie translated his theatrical tendencies to other forms of media; most notably in the 1976 sci-fi film 'The Man Who Fell to Earth'. He plays an alien who has come to earth; perfectly coinciding with his past space themed characters and music.
The Berlin Trilogy
David Bowie collaborated with fellow musician Brian Eno, of Roxy Music, to create the following three albums. Brian Eno went on to become a famous music producer as well, producing seven of U2's albums, including 'Joshua Tree'.
"Heroes" #46 on Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Songs of All Time
"Bowie wails with crazed soul about two doomed lovers finding a moment of redemption together- 'just for one day'."
Bowie produced Iggy Pop's first two solo albums in 1977 after encouraging their creation. He also played keyboard and co-wrote the song "China Girl" which he later rerecorded himself.
The Idiot
Lust for Life
Bowie furthered his contribution to the arts by playing the lead in the play 'The Elephant Man' in 1980. This is worth mentioning because Bowie transcended music with his theatrics and is remembered for his work in other artistic fields as well.
Scary Monsters
(and Super Creeps)
Let's Dance
In 1981, David Bowie collaborated with the fellow Glam Rock band Queen to create one of the most famous ballads of all time, 'Under Pressure'.
The song deals with feeling the pressures that society puts on us and trying to break free from those oppressions.
Early 1980's
In 1985, Bowie collaborated with long time friend and fellow musician Mick Jagger to cover Martha and the Vandellas' song "Daning in the Street".
Bowie also returned to film to star in the 1986 film Labyrinth, which includes Bowie singing and dancing
Mid- 1980's
Never Let Me Down
Bowie continued to create music for the rest of the 1980's and early into the 1990's. He continued to be included in top charts and record sales, never truly leaving the pop culture spectrum.
In 1995, David Bowie was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by David Byrne, which was accepted by Madonna. Being included in this list of amazing, influential musicians shows just how much of an impact Bowie has had on music's history and culture.
On November 9th, 2006 Bowie performed a short set at a benefit show for a children's charity at New York's Hammerstein Ballroom and he hasn't performed since. "I'm not even thinking of touring," he said in 2010. "I'm comfortable."
Bowie came out with his first album in ten years this March. It has recently been nominated for the 'Best Rock Performance' Grammy for his song 'The Stars (Are Out Tonight)' and the 'Best Rock Album' Grammy. This reappearance shows that Bowie is still relevant today for his current contributions in addition to his famous past.
Grammy Awards
1985 'Jazzin' for Blue Jean' Best Video, Short Film
2006 Lifetime Achievement Award
The Bowie Legacy
Glitter rock had been born, and it wasn't just about music and style: it was about a radical new mode of liberation. "We were giving permission to ourselves," Bowie wrote, "to reinvent culture the way we wanted it. With great big shoes." Bowie gave a voice to those who had been without it. He did it for people who weren't yet sure who they were or would be allowed to be. He gave them and continues to give them permission and encouragement to figure out their identities without shame, to exhibit pleasure in themselves and in one another.
Bowie made theatrics popular; his use of make up and costumes on stage and his depictions of characters through is music. This inspired many other musicians such as: Elton John, T. Rexx, Alice Cooper, KISS, The New York Dolls, The Runaways, and many more. He continues to be an influential, inspirational musician to many artists today. His music is just as remembered as his image. This lead to many other artists being connected to their onstage or in person identities. (Lady Gaga for example)
What Other Musicians Think...
"There had been androgyny in rock from Little Richard on up, but David put his own patina on it, to say the least. He thought hard about that Ziggy character; he'd been studying mime, and he didn't just do it for laughs. He was very aware of stagecraft. He made an entire show out of that character - and then he left it behind. How smart can you get? ... He's always changing, so you never get tired of what he's doing. And I mean all the way up to now... I saw him play here in New York on his last tour, and it was one of the greatest rock shows I've ever seen." - Lou Reed, 2004

"I've always had a sentimental attachment to David Bowie. Not just because I grew up with his music, but it's because he was the first rock concert that I ever saw... The show began and I dn't think I breathed for the next two hours. It was the most amazing show that I have ever seen. Not just because the music was great, but because it was great theater and here was this beautiful, androgynous man just being so perverse... so unconventional, defying logic and basically blowing my mind." - Madonna, 1996

"He's sort of like an alien prince. He still runs my universe as well, like, every morning I wake up and I think, 'What would Bowie do?'... I guess for him it was a sense of perfection. (the alter-egos) These things he created, it was self expression for him but also a sense of protection for who he personally is as David." - Lady Gaga, 2013
In our textbook, David Bowie is mentioned for a couple of paragraphs in Chapter 14: Progressive and Glitter Rock, which includes a listening guide for Bowie's song 'Space Oddity'. We only discussed him once in class in reference to a live clip of a performance which was played.

I feel that Bowie's career deserves to be discussed for a longer period of time in class because he had a large contribution to music's history and culture. Some people may dispute this, claiming that he or the Glam Rock genre are not as important as others. I don't find this a valid opinion because if Bowie and the Glam Rock genre were talked about more, people would learn just how much the theatrics, costuming, make up, alter-egos, and image- based artistry contributed to music's culture/history. Many artists have continued the use of these elements in their music, have been inspired/influenced by Bowie, or helped personally with Bowie's musical talent.
Works Cited
youtube.com and vimeo.com for the music videos
"Rock Music Styles" by Katherine Charlton
"The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Rock History The Rise of Album Rock, 1967-1973" by Chris Smith
"The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock and Roll" edited by Jim Miller
"Rock and Roll Sixth Edition Its History and Stylistic Development" by Joe Stuessy and Scott Lipscomb
Special Collector's Edition Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (Changes #128, Heroes #46, Ziggy Stardust #282, Young Americans #486)
Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Rock Rolling Stone 'The Immortals' The Fifty Greatest Artists of All Time (p. 182 by Lou Reed)
Rolling Stone Issue 1149 'The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust: How David Bowie Changed the World'
'Pin Ups' by David Bowie
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