David Bowie: Theatre of Music by Robert Matthew-Walker By Steve Rudd
Although this book was published way back in 1985, it still provides a fascinating insight
into David's personal life and his music up to such a point in time, giving a summary of
the circumstances around his birth and childhood before naturally progressing onto how
he first became interested and thus seriously involved in music-making.
In due course, David would go on to become one of the most celebrated and influential
singer-songwriters of the 20th Century, due in no small part to his wild imagination
that has never seemed to know any bounds.
Many fascinating facts are revealed that the majority of his die-hard fans might not otherwise know.
For starters, he was born David Robert Jones on January 8th 1947 in Brixton, and came to shorten
his name to Davy Jones for some of his earliest releases.
However, it was felt that it would
be better to assume a different stage-name altogether, in the mid-60's, due to the
possible confusion that might arise from the fact that there was one of The Monkees
called Davy Jones too. So our David decided on Bowie as a surname.
Much of his earliest material wasn't as commercially successful as he would have hoped,
but David persevered and soon had his work recognised by winning a songwriting award for
his Space Oddity song, a song that is arguably one of the most extraordinary tunes ever written.
And this was in 1969, when he was still in his early twenties.
Then came the seventies, and the seemingly sudden infame that David enjoyed with his band
The Spiders From Mars (with ace Hull guitarist Mick Ronson, bassist Trevor Bolder and Driffield drummer
Mick Woodmansey being embroiled in David's mad, mad world) which heralded the release of such
classic albums as Hunky Dory, Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane.
By this time, David had adopted a flamboyant stage persona and was artfully pioneering
the exhilarating Glam-rock movement with friends such as T-Rex frontman Marc Bolan.
Then, in 1973, David shocked all of the loyal fans that suddenly seemed obsessed by him and
his music, because he announced live on stage in Hammersmith that the band were splitting
up - never to play again.
Leaving the Glam-rock style of songs behind him, David didn't give up on music altogether,
but went off at a surprising musical tangent, first releasing a couple of soul albums during the
mid-1970's, before heading to Berlin and unleashing a couple of wildly experimental
prog-rock albums in the form of Low and Heroes.
And through all these years and albums, most of his fans stayed by his side, and were
constantly enthralled at how he kept changing his musical direction so effortlessly.
Still, 1983's Let's Dance release was perhaps his most important album to date.
This release was arguably his poppiest and commercial so far, and hordes of people
all over the world bought the album in droves to help establish the David Bowie phenomenon
as a truly international tour-de-force.
Obviously, since 1985, David has released a great many more brilliant albums and films, but
once I start talking about David Bowie I really cannot stop, so I won't even go there.
The best thing to do is to obviously go out and pick up some of his albums, with 2003's
fantastic Reality release being his most recent work, and which is to be accompanied by a
live DVD that was filmed on the extensive worldwide tour that Reality magnificently
spawned - so look out for that.
As well as the in-depth biography that this Theatre Of Music book affords, there is also
an intense discography of all his releases from 1964 to 1984, with every album being
analysed track-by-track, before separate chapters that chronicle his work as both an actor and music producer.
As a result, this book is brilliant for both hardcore fans looking to gain more knowledge,
and for people who might be completely new to David and his music. It really is comprehensively
researched and organised to an astonishing degree, providing some exciting revelations in due course.
But none of the revelations could ever be as exciting as his music, for in my humble opinion
David Bowie is the most important singer songwriter of the past forty years simply because
there really does seem to be nobody else like him who has been as ambitious or risk-taking
with their cross-generic music.
ISBN 0-946041-22-9 (published by The Kensal Press, 1985)
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