Did you know … 20 facts about David Bowie

Posted on 22/05/2019 by

This article was first published on July 3, 2015 as part of Fairfax Media’s coverage of the David Bowie Is exhibition at ACMI.

1. Born David Robert Jones, Bowie changed his name in 1965, to avoid confusion with Davy Jones from The Monkees.

2. First band was called Davie Jones and the King Bees (1964), then came the Manish Boys, the Lower Third and the Buzz.

3. Theories abound about Bowie’s eyes. Many say it was a playground fight at school that led to him having two different coloured eyes – his eye was scratchedwith a fingernail (or stabbed with a compass in some versions), which caused a paralysed pupil. Others say he has a condition known as heterochromia, which enlarges one of the pupils and causes the eye colours to look different.

4. His first LP,David Bowie, was released on the same day asSergeant Pepper’s, on June 1, 1967. In stark contrast to the Beatles’ album, Bowie’s was not a commercial success. Looking back, he sees that as a positive: “In a way, if anything had happened for me in the mid-60s, I mighty well have been cut off from an awful lot of influences.”

5. In 1967, Bowie thought of becoming a Buddhist monk. He stayed briefly in Scotland at the Buddhist retreat Eskdalemuir.

6. Retired for the first time as early as 1973, announced at a show at the Hammersmith Odeon in London. “This is the last show we’ll ever do…” he said. Turned out it was Ziggy Stardust retiring, not Bowie.

7. John Lennon co-wroteFamewith Bowie and Carlos Alomar.

8. David Bowie sees himself more as an actor than a musician.

9. The Elephant Manwith Bowie in the title role was a big hit on Broadway in 1980.

10. Married model Iman in Florence in 1992. They met on a blind date arranged by a mutual friend.

11.Bowie played his good mate Andy Warhol in the filmBasquiatin 1996.

12. Always ahead of the curve, he formed the first artist-created internet service provider, Bowienet, in 1998.

13. A heart attack put paid to Bowie’s plans to tour the world in 2004.

14. Managed to keep his first album release in a decade secret untilThe Stars Are Out Tonight(from albumThe Next Day) hit the internet, released via his own label.

15. His children are Duncan Jones – once Zowie, born 1971 – who is a filmmaker and whose first feature film was entitledMoon(2009) and won a BAFTA; and Alexandria “Lexi” Zahra Jones, who was born in 2000.

16. Recent filmBandslamfinishes with Bowie ringing up a kid he discovered on the internet and saying he wants to produce his music.

17. Michael C. Hall, ofDexterfame, will star inLazarus, a musical based onThe Man Who Fell To Earth, opening in New York in December. He’ll play Thomas Newton, the character played by Bowie in the 1976 film.

18. His chosen name references the bowie knife, named after Jim Bowie – an American frontiersman and adventurer.

19. He started playing sax as a teenager, at secondary school.

20. His 50th birthday party was widely televised; his son was one of the camera crew.

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