'Bowie: A Biography,' a book review

"Bowie: A Biography" by Marc Spitz (Crown, 429 pages) isn't just about David Bowie.

"Bowie: A Biography" by Marc Spitz (Crown, 429 pages) isn't just about David Bowie.

After the Beatles, there was David Bowie. I'm not equating them, not by a long shot, but Bowie's music felt like a big change from what preceded it in the 1960s.

Born David Jones in the suburbs of London in 1947, Bowie had a huge impact on the music of the 1970s. If you're old enough to remember you know "Space Oddity" made him a star, and "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust" and his spiky haircut put him over the top.

I can't claim to be the biggest fan, but I love the way Spitz recounts when Bowie signed a record deal with RCA he met Andy Warhol, and that led to hooking up with Lou Reed, and that brought him to Iggy Pop. And according to Spitz there's a bit of Iggy in the creation of Ziggy.

Like all great stars lucky enough to have long careers, Bowie had a knack for continuously reinventing himself; he fused pop music with art, glam, synth, ambient, dance, rock, and soul. Bowie kicked heroin, sang a duet with Bing Crosby, starred in one of the great space oddity films of the 1970s, "The Man Who Fell to Earth," and "The Hunger" in 1983. He acted on Broadway in "The Elephant Man" in 1980.

Granted, reading about faded rock stars can be a big waste of time. Thing is, Spitz's book had me listening to a lot of Bowie, and I came away with a new appreciation for his music. And some of it, like "Low," the album that marked Bowie's first collaboration with Brian Eno, sound amazing. "Pin Ups" was definitely a high point for me.

"Bowie: A Biography" isn't just for fans, but it may spawn some new ones.

About the author

Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Home Theater, Inner Fidelity, Tone Audio, and Stereophile.

 

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