David Bowie is considered one of the greatest musicians, or even artists, of the 20th century. From his flamboyant musical alter egos throughout the years to his groundbreaking style and character, Bowie has lived an incredible life, full of twists and turns. Here are some of the most surprising facts about the man and the legend.
Bowie’s eyes were not two different colors
This myth is always brought up when people talk about those that have a blue eye and a brown eye. For Bowie, the story is a bit different – both his eyes were blue. When he was 15, he got into a fight, and ended up with anisocoria – a permanently dilated pupil – which gives him the unique look. The friend which he fought later worked with him on many of his albums, so there’s a good ending to the story.
Bowie is literally a star
The world of music was shocked by Bowie’s death in 2016. Many wanted to pay tribute to the legend, and someone even named an asteroid after him. Even more cool than that – a group of astronomers noticed seven stars that were near Mars at the time of his passing, forming a shape similar to that of a lightning bolt. They named it the “Bowie asterism”. Amazing.
He was friends with Elton John
As teens, the two were friendly, and would meet up to discuss music. After Bowie passed away, Elton John talked about their relationship. “David and I were not the best of friends towards the end”, he said. He explained that “He wasn’t my cup of tea. No, I wasn’t his cup of tea.”
He founded “The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Long-Haired Men”
Bowie’s first TV appearance had nothing to do with music. In fact, it was at 17 that he was interviewed regarding the society he founded. “It’s not nice when people call you darling and that.” Funny to think that this was his first introduction to many around the world.
He was into jazz
Bowie was a 12-year-old when he received his first ever saxophone. Soon after that, his brother got him into jazz music, and David became a fan of some jazz legends, including Charles Mingus and saxophonist John Coltrane. It’s interesting to think how has jazz influenced his own music, later on his life.
Music was not his only way of showing his artistic ideas to us
We all know him as versatile musician and entertainer, but some still don’t know that Bowie used to paint quite a lot. In an interview in 1998, he said that painting “was about problem-solving” for his musical challenges. “Somehow the act of trying to recreate the structure of the music in paint or in drawing would produce a breakthrough”, he said.
“Space Oddity” was released days before the moon landing
The hit song was released on July 11th, 1969. On July 24th, Apollo 11’s mission achieved what no one has achieved before – landing humans on the face of the moon. The newly released was used by the BBC during their coverage of the historic mission, and became a national hit for Bowie.
He may have helped start the careers of a guitar legend
The studio guitarist for David Bowie’s successful album, “Let’s Dance”, later became quite a well-known musician on his own. It was no other than Stevie Ray Vaughan, one the of most celebrated blues guitarist in history. We should thank Bowie for getting him started in the business.
He refused to perform during the London Olymics
In 2012, London was home to the Olympics. Danny Boyle, an award-winning film director, was chosen to the direct the opening ceremony. Boyle personally asked Bowie to perform his hit “Heroes” during the ceremony, but Bowie turned down the opportunity to perform live in front of millions worldwide.
He also turned down British knighthood
In 2003, Bowie declined the great honor that only few are offered in the United Kingdom – knighthood. When asked about his surprising refusal, he replied that “I seriously don’t know what it’s for, It’s not what I spent my life working for.”
He was a pioneer of the internet
In 1996, Bowie released a new single – “Telling Lies”. He did that in a unique way – the single was only released via the internet. Today’s millennials would be amazed to find out that downloading the single took more than 11 minutes! Later on, he even launched an internet service provider, “Bowienet”, another example of his groundbreaking use of the web in the early days.
One of Bowie’s alter egos got him questioning his own sanity
The artist famously had many alter egos throughout the many decades of his career. One of the most memorable is the glamourous Ziggy Stardust, from the early seventies. Bowie stopped touring as Ziggy in 1973, and he later admitted that the character remained a part of him for a long time afterward. “My whole personality was affected”, he said, “It became very dangerous. I really did have doubts about my sanity.”
He had a bizarre fear involving a wizard
Later on, after the Ziggy period, Bowie’s new ago was Thin White Duke. At that period, bowie had issues with drug consumption. It was reported that Bowie’s life in Los Angeles became quite weird – his diet included peppers and milk, and he kept his urine in the refrigerator so that “no other wizard could use it to enchant him.”
He has predicted a few futuristic trends
In an interview in 1999, Bowie discussed a new and fresh invention – the world wide web. The BBC interviewer thought that the invention’s potential was limited, but Bowie completely disagreed – “I really embrace the idea that there’s a new demystification process between the artist and the audience. The interplay between the user and the provider will be so in sympatico it’s going to crush our ideas of what mediums are all about.” Bowie basically predicted the music-streaming industry decades before it took over our lives. Incredible.