Sunday, 8 January 2017

Remembering David Bowie - 70 facts you might not know about David Bowie

Today would have been David Bowie's 70th birthday. To mark the occasion and celebrate, we've compiled a 70 facts about David Bowie that you might not know... (and some you will!)

1. He was born David Robert Jones on the 8th January, 1947 in Brixton, London.

2. During his lifetime, he was one of the world's best-selling music artist, with 9 platinum albums, 11 gold and 8 silver in the UK alone.

3. Contrary to popular, David's eyes were the same colour. One was just permanently dilated after a fight with schoolfriend, George Underwood over a girl left him with a serious eye injury for which he had to have a series of operations. It left him with faulty depth perception and a permanently dilated pupil, giving the impression of a change in the colour of the iris.

4. Despite the eye injury, David remained friends with George Underwood, and Underwood created some of the artwork for David's early albums.

5. He stood at a height of 5'10".

6. Guitarist and singer/songwriter, Peter Frampton was a school friend. They both attended Bromley Technical High School, where Peter Frampton's dad was an art teacher.

7. He never drank tea after a distressing incident when he was 5 years old. The legend goes that aboard a Thames boat trip with his parents, David drank tea which had been stewing for 7 years (!) It was so horrible that he never touched it again - although he did like Japanese Green Tea.
He was inducted into the Rock and Roll hall of fame in 1996.

8. Space Oddity was his first top five chart entry when it was released in July, 1969, coinciding with the moon landing.

9. He formed his first band, The Konrads, in 1962 at the age of 15.

10. He turned down a CBE in 2000 and later a knighthood in 2003. He said about the CBE, "I would never have any intention of accepting anything like that. I seriously don't know what it's for. It's not what I spent my life working for."

[More below!]

11. He stopped touring in 2004. His last live performance was at a charity event in 2006.

12. His first single was Liza Jane, credited to Davie Jones and The King Bees. It didn't chart.

13. He released the first major downloadable single, Telling Lies, in 1996. It was available from his website and would have taken 11 minutes to download at dial-up internet speed.

14. Deciding he didn't like his stage name, Davy Jones (and occasionally Davie Jones) and to avoid confusion with the Monkee, Davy Jones, David picked the surname Bowie after 19th century pioneer, Jame Bowie (who the Bowie knife is also named after).

15. He left school with just one qualification - an O level in art.

16. In the late sixties he appeared in an advert for Lyons Maid Ice Cream, and was turned down for a Kit Kat advert.

17. During the 1974 Diamond Dogs Tour, (and at the height of his cocaine addiction) David weighed only 95 lbs and supposedly lived on a diet of peppers and milk.

18. He sang backing vocals on Lou Reed's 1972 solo album, Transformer.

19.  He moved to the US in 1974, first to New York and then settling in Los Angeles.

20. At a concert in Oslo in 2004, Bowie was hit in the eye by a lollipop thrown from the audience. It became lodged there (horrifically!) before a roadie could run on and help him. David carried on with the show!

21. David played alto saxophone on To Know Him Is To Love him on Steeleye Span's 1974 album, Now We Are Six.

22. Among some of his favourite bands were Placebo, Arcade Fire and Oasis.

23. As a teenager, he also developed a taste for jazz and particularly liked Charles Mingus.

24. After a couple of years in the US, he moved to Geneva in Switzerland.

25. During his 2004 North America Tour, he was stalked by someone in a pink bunny costume. He seemed unaffected at the time, saying, "Hey, it's rock and roll. It's just a five foot, three bunny." But it did get a bit creepy later when he caught a plane from New York only to find the pink bunny was also a passenger on board.

26. The persona of Ziggy Stardust was inspired by 50s/60s rocker, Vince Taylor.

27. At the end of 1976, David moved to West Berlin where he'd often be seen riding his bicycle between his home and the recording studio.

28. David played Joseph Merrick in a Broadway production of The Elephant Man between 1980 - 1981. He wore no stage makeup. The part earned him critical acclaim.

29. David was married twice. First to Mary Angela Barnett on 19th March, 1970, with whom he had a son Duncan (originally named Zowie) in 1971. They divorced 8th February, 1980. His second marriage was to model, Iman, on 24th April, 1992. They had one daughter, Alexandria 'Lexi' Zahra Jones, born in 2000.

30. Despite being married to a woman, David declared himself as gay in a 1972 Melody Maker interview. He later clarified he was bisexual in a 1976 interview with Playboy.

31. His first significant feature film role was a Thomas Jerome Newton in The Man Who Fell To Earth in 1976.

32. Other film roles including parts as 'Screaming Lord Byron', Nikola Tesla, Jareth The Goblin King (of course) Andy Warhol and quite often himself.

33. David suggested that fans should vote via phone which songs he should include in his 1990 world tour set. The most requested song was The Laughing Gnome, but he didn't play it!

34. He plays almost every instrument on Diamond Dogs himself, including the famous Rebel Rebel guitar riff.

35. It had been originally intended that David would sing backing vocals on the Queen song Cool Cat, but they ended up collaborating on Under Pressure instead.

36. His first UK number 1 album was Aladdin Sane in 1973

37. Space Oddity originally peaked at number 5 in 1969. It became his first number 1 upon it's rerelease in 1975. (UK Charts)

38. The song Fame was co-written with John Lennon, which was his first US number 1. John sings backing vocals on the song.

39. Other UK number 1's include Ashes to Ashes, Under Pressure (with Queen), Dancing In The Streets (with Mick Jagger) and Lets Dance.

40. In 2008 a spider was names Heteropoda Davidbowie in his honour.

41. He was ranked 29th in the BBC's 2002 poll of Greatest Britains.

42. His grandson, son of Duncan Jones, was born 10th July, 2016, exactly six months after David's death.

43. He was a painter and a collector of art. Some of his favourite artists included Damien Hurst and Henry Moore. His art collection was valued at over £10 million in mid 2016.

44. His mother, Margaret Mary 'Peggy' Jones was a waitress and his father, Haywood Stenton 'John' Jones worked as a promotions officer for Barnados children's charity.

45. His ashes were scattered in Bali.

46. In early 1969 he toured as third on the bill with Marc Bolan's Tyrannosaurus Rex, performing a mime act.

47. The correct pronunciation of Bowie is to rhyme with Joey.

48. He released his debut album, the eponymous David Bowie in 1967.

49. David Bowie's fictional song character, Major Tom appears in three songs - Space Oddity (1969), Ashes To Ashes (1980) and Hallo Spaceboy (1996).

50. In 1970 he formed The Hype, where everyone in the band dressed up as super heroes. They were booed off stage everywhere they played.

51. He voiced the character of Lord Royal Highness in SpongeBob SquarePants in 2007.

52. He has a half-brother who was nine years older than him called Terry. Terry was schizophrenic and killed himself in 1985. He was the inspiration behind many of David's songs including Aladdin Sane, All The Madmen, The Bewlay Brothers and Jump They Say.

53. He had to have emergency heart surgery in 2004 following a heart attack while on tour.

54. He recorded an Italian version of Space Odditity called Ragazzo Solo, Ragazza Solo which literally translates as Lonely Boy, Lonely Girl.

55. He was in 10 bands - The Konrads, The Hooker Brothers, The King Bees, The Manish Boys, The Lower Third, The Buzz, The Riot Squad, The Hype, Tin Machine and Tao Jones Index. (Some of these performed under differing names).

56. He wrote the soundtrack for Buddha Of Suburbia in 1993.

57. Bing Crosby recorded his last ever single with David, the duet of The Little Drummer Boy for Christmas 1977. Allegedly, Bing didn't know who David was before the recording but his son recommended him.

58. He was the final guest on Marc Bolan's TV show, Marc in 1977. Bolan died shortly afterwards.

59. In 1997, he launched an internet service provider company, Bowienet. It cost £10 a month and ran until 2012.

60. He appeared in the second series of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's Extras in 2006, playing himself. He plays a song on a piano - Chubby Little Loser, ridiculing Gervais's character, Andy.

61. The V&A's David Bowie exhibition in 2013 was the fastest selling in the museum's history.

62. During the filming of The Prestige, producers made sure he had a blue helicopter to travel in, after being told he would refuse to travel in anything else. David, upon seeing the customised helicopter, told them he didn't really care what he travelled in.

63. He played Glastonbury twice - once in 1971 and once in 2000.

64. Aged 17, he appeared on the BBC as the founder of The Society for the Prevention of Cruetly to Long-Haired Men. He said, "I thin we all like long hair. I don't see why other people should persecute us because of this. It's not nice when people call you darling and that."

65. 1968, he was asked by a music publisher to write English lyrics of a French song. His version was Even A Fool Learns To Love, which was rejected and never recorded. The same French song later became My Way, Frank Sinatra's most famous song. Later, David reworked the chords of his song and turned it into Life On Mars, acknowledging it was 'inspired by Frankie' in his album liner notes.

66. A 1998 film was named after his song, Velvet Goldmine. David refused to allow filmmakers to use the song after reading the script and realising it was a blatant parody of his Ziggy Stardust character.

67. He turned down the role of Max Zorin in the James Bond film, A View To A Kill. 

68. Coldplay's Chris Martin once sent David a song for potential collaboration. David rejected it and called him to say, "It's not one of your best, is it?"

69. David also turned down Danny Boyle when he wanted to do a David Bowie musical, refusing to grant his permission to use his music.

70. David Bowie, very sadly, passed away at the age of 69 on the 10th of January, 2016. It was two days after his 69th birthday, and two days after the release of his final album, Blackstar. It wasn't know publicly that he'd been suffering from liver cancer and the world was - and still is a year later - shocked, stunned and greatly saddened at the passing of the icon and legend, David Bowie.