David Bowie2style that initially alienated many of his UK devotees. He then confounded the expectations of both his record labeland his American audiences by recording the minimalist album
the first of three collaborations withBrian Eno over the next two years. The so-called "Berlin Trilogy" albums all reached the UK top five and garneredlasting critical praise.After uneven commercial success in the late 1970s, Bowie had UK number ones with the 1980 single "Ashes toAshes", its parent album
Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)
, and "Under Pressure", a 1981 collaboration withQueen. He then reached a new commercial peak in 1983 with
, which yielded several hit singles.Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Bowie continued to experiment with musical styles, including blue-eyed soul,industrial, adult contemporary, and jungle. His last recorded album was
(2003), which was supported by the2003
04 Reality Tour.Buckley says of Bowie: "His influence has been unique in popular culture
he has permeated and altered more livesthan any comparable figure."
In the BBC's 2002 poll of the 100 Greatest Britons, Bowie was placed at number 29.Throughout his career, he has sold an estimated 140 million albums. In the UK, he has been awarded nine Platinumalbum certifications, 11 Gold and eight Silver, and in the US, five Platinum and seven Gold certifications. In 2004,
ranked him 39th on their list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time", and 23rd on their list of the bestsingers of all-time.
62: early years
David Bowie was born David Robert Jones in Brixton, London, on 8 January 1947. His mother, Margaret Mary"Peggy" (née Burns), of Irish descent,
worked as a cinema usherette, while his father, Haywood Stenton "John"Jones was a promotions officer for Barnardo's. The family lived at 40 Stansfield Road, located near the border of thesouth London areas of Brixton and Stockwell. A neighbour recalled that "London in the forties was the worstpossible place, and the worst possible time for a child to grow up in." Bowie attended Stockwell Infants School untilhe was six years old, acquiring a reputation as a gifted and single-minded child
and a defiant brawler.
In 1953 the family moved to thesuburb of Bromley, where, two years later, Bowie progressed to Burnt Ash JuniorSchool. His voice was considered "adequate" by the school choir, and his recorder playing judged to demonstrateabove-average musical ability.
At the age of nine, his dancing during the newly introduced music and movementclasses was strikingly imaginative: teachers called his interpretations "vividly artistic" and his poise "astonishing" fora child.
The same year, his interest in music was further stimulated when his father brought home a collection of American 45s by artists including Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, The Platters, Fats Domino, Elvis Presley and
Upon listening to "Tutti Frutti", Bowie would later say, "I had heard God".
Presley's impacton him was likewise emphatic: "I saw a cousin of mine dance to ... 'Hound Dog' and I had never seen her get up andbe moved so much by anything. It really impressed me, the power of the music. I started getting records immediatelyafter that."
By the end of the following year he had taken up the ukelele and tea-chest bass and begun to participatein skiffle sessions with friends, and had started to play the piano; meanwhile his stage presentation of numbers byboth Presley and Chuck Berry
complete with gyrations in tribute to the original artists
to his local Wolf Cubgroup was described as "mesmerizing ... like someone from another planet."
Failing his eleven plus exam at theconclusion of his Burnt Ash Junior education, Bowie joined Bromley Technical High School.
It was an unusual technical school, as biographer Christopher Sandford writes:Despite its status it was, by the time David arrived in 1958, as rich in arcane ritual as any [English] publicschool. There were houses, named after eighteenth-century statesmen like Pitt and Wilberforce. There was auniform, and an elaborate system of rewards and punishments. There was also an accent on languages, scienceand particularly design, where a collegiate atmosphere flourished under the tutorship of Owen Frampton. InDavid's account, Frampton led through force of personality, not intellect; his colleagues at Bromley Tech were