By Robert Dimery
Rated: 5 stars *****
Whether you are a seasoned fan of David Bowie or wanting an introduction to who he was, then this compelling book would make a great starting point or addition to anyone’s music collection.
Thanks to Lawrence King Publishing for accepting my request to review.
Read further to discover the blurb and the review in full.
David Bowie was a restless innovator, scoring chart hits that broke radical new ground. His image changed with almost every album, influencing high streets and catwalks alike. He became an acclaimed actor, while his androgynous aura and ambiguous sexuality proved liberating to those uncertain about their own. This book charts his evolution in the sixties, his euphoric reinvention in 1972 as Ziggy Stardust and the excessive lifestyle that nearly cost him his sanity. It revisits his artistic rebirth in Berlin, the global stardom he achieved with Let’s Dance in 1983 and his triumphant farewell, Blackstar.
David Bowie is part of the Lives the Musicians series: highly readable short biographies of the most-popular musicians.
A biography of David Bowie, I felt would be an ambitious book for anyone to pull off, there is after all, so much to say about him, but one that Robert Dimery has managed expertly to do, to make it an excellent introduction or addition to anyone’s musician book collection.
The contents page is enough to intrigue and scoop David Barlow fans up:
Becoming Bowie ♦ Of Mods and Mime ♦ Lift-off ♦ Rock ‘n’ Roll Alien ♦ Ziggy Goes To America ♦
Diamond Dogs and the Thin White Duke ♦ Berlin Calling ♦ Scary Monsters (and Superstardom) ♦
Losing the Muse ♦ Art-house Rules
This book is mature in writing. Let’s face it, writing about someone as elusive and yet as popular as David Bowie must have been an exciting opportunity, but very nicely it doesn’t feel like the author has hyped him up. He hasn’t shied away from, what must have been challenging times in David Bowie’s life of not being instantly loved and having to face some criticism. There are also the times, which must have been terrific, when things were going well. It feels very authentic and rounded.
The book, after a foreward, begins to tell you who David Bowie was as a man, the street he was on and a bit about his close family life and extended relatives and the atmosphere certain developments created. It captivates and gives a bit more understanding of David Bowie, away from the professional, famous persona he had. There are also other popstars of the time mentioned, which gives depth and all relates to David Bowie one way or another and bands he was part of. It is interesting reading about the eclectic music involved and performing on music shows such as Ready Steady Go, in his early career. There is also a look at the actual development of how he became a solo artist. There’s a nuanced exploration into sexuality that pops up every so often, like just reminding people how this influenced people and how people related to David Bowie. It is evident that a lot of David Bowie’s life has been researched and also the wider sphere of it, which creates fascination and in a way, perhaps readers will see something of themselves reflected back at them or remember the quotes from some famous fans, from the likes of NME.
It says about the uneasy start of Space Oddity, which these days, it’s hard to believe, but this is what the book shows, that the pop business isn’t as easy as it makes out to be. It has a truth about it, that even the most well-known had very challenging times. The book rolls into Bowie’s alter-ego – Ziggy Stardust and what influenced certain music, such as his stage entrances. There are nuggets throughout the book, which is like a glimpse of behind the scenes and into the music business, as well as his own individuality, creating such a fascinating book. Going stateside is quite the eye-opener in terms of music, but even more so in the affect it had on himself and Angie. Later it talks of Iman and takes readers right up to Blackstar, where it is all quite emotional due to his death, and yet stay in keeping with the tone of the rest of the book, which is factual and has a professional, rather than over-excited fan, feel to it and that’s what helps keep it interesting, at times intriguing and most certainly compelling. It feels like this is okay to read because it seems to document how things are and there are some well-placed quotes, which brings David Bowie’s voice into the writing. It feels respectful. In the middle of the book, there are also some fabulous photos of David Bowie, documenting through his years of being a star, pictorially.
At the back, readers are treated to discography and further reading of live albums.