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Bowie: The Biography

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Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, the Thin White Duke. Gender Bender. Rebel. Songwriter. Fashion Icon. Rock God. One of the most influential creative artists of his generation, David Bowie morphed from one glittering incarnation to the next over the course of five decades—an enduring superstar who remained endlessly enigmatic and always ahead of his time. Discover the man Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, the Thin White Duke. Gender Bender. Rebel. Songwriter. Fashion Icon. Rock God. One of the most influential creative artists of his generation, David Bowie morphed from one glittering incarnation to the next over the course of five decades—an enduring superstar who remained endlessly enigmatic and always ahead of his time. Discover the man behind the myth in this intimate and in-depth biography—featuring a full-color sixteen-page photo insert. David Bowie passed away after an eighteen-month battle with cancer on January 10, 2016. Few knew of his illness, and Bowie flawlessly orchestrated his last goodbye with the release of his final (and some say best) album, Blackstar, featuring the haunting song “Lazarus,” and its accompanying video, a farewell message to his millions of fans. Throughout his iconic career that included such hits as “Let’s Dance,” “Space Oddity,” “Heroes,” “Modern Love,” and “Life on Mars,” Bowie managed to retain his Hollywood star mystique. Through in-depth interviews with those who knew him best, New York Times bestselling author Wendy Leigh reveals the man behind Bowie’s myriad images—up to and including his role as stay-at-home dad, happily monogamous in his quarter-of-a-century-plus marriage to supermodel Iman. In this “sizzling” (Radar Online) new biography, Leigh brings fresh insights to Bowie’s battles with addiction; his insatiable sex life—from self-avowed gay to bisexual to resolutely heterosexual—and countless conquests; his childhood in a working-class London neighborhood and the troubling family influences that fueled his relentless pursuit of success; and much more. This exploration of an artist beloved by so many reveals the man at the center of the mythos.


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Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, the Thin White Duke. Gender Bender. Rebel. Songwriter. Fashion Icon. Rock God. One of the most influential creative artists of his generation, David Bowie morphed from one glittering incarnation to the next over the course of five decades—an enduring superstar who remained endlessly enigmatic and always ahead of his time. Discover the man Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, the Thin White Duke. Gender Bender. Rebel. Songwriter. Fashion Icon. Rock God. One of the most influential creative artists of his generation, David Bowie morphed from one glittering incarnation to the next over the course of five decades—an enduring superstar who remained endlessly enigmatic and always ahead of his time. Discover the man behind the myth in this intimate and in-depth biography—featuring a full-color sixteen-page photo insert. David Bowie passed away after an eighteen-month battle with cancer on January 10, 2016. Few knew of his illness, and Bowie flawlessly orchestrated his last goodbye with the release of his final (and some say best) album, Blackstar, featuring the haunting song “Lazarus,” and its accompanying video, a farewell message to his millions of fans. Throughout his iconic career that included such hits as “Let’s Dance,” “Space Oddity,” “Heroes,” “Modern Love,” and “Life on Mars,” Bowie managed to retain his Hollywood star mystique. Through in-depth interviews with those who knew him best, New York Times bestselling author Wendy Leigh reveals the man behind Bowie’s myriad images—up to and including his role as stay-at-home dad, happily monogamous in his quarter-of-a-century-plus marriage to supermodel Iman. In this “sizzling” (Radar Online) new biography, Leigh brings fresh insights to Bowie’s battles with addiction; his insatiable sex life—from self-avowed gay to bisexual to resolutely heterosexual—and countless conquests; his childhood in a working-class London neighborhood and the troubling family influences that fueled his relentless pursuit of success; and much more. This exploration of an artist beloved by so many reveals the man at the center of the mythos.

30 review for Bowie: The Biography

  1. 5 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    I found this: David Bowie’s Top 100 Books http://electricliterature.com/david-b... I have read 31 of David's top 100 so it turns out that if we had ever met, which was always somewhat unlikely, we would have had lots to talk about. Interviews With Francis Bacon by David Sylvester Billy Liar by Keith Waterhouse Room At The Top by John Braine On Having No Head by Douglass Harding Kafka Was The Rage by Anatole Broyard A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess City Of Night by John Rechy The Brief Wondrous Life I found this: David Bowie’s Top 100 Books http://electricliterature.com/david-b... I have read 31 of David's top 100 so it turns out that if we had ever met, which was always somewhat unlikely, we would have had lots to talk about. Interviews With Francis Bacon by David Sylvester Billy Liar by Keith Waterhouse Room At The Top by John Braine On Having No Head by Douglass Harding Kafka Was The Rage by Anatole Broyard A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess City Of Night by John Rechy The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert Iliad by Homer As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner Tadanori Yokoo by Tadanori Yokoo Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Döblin Inside The Whale And Other Essays by George Orwell Mr. Norris Changes Trains by Christopher Isherwood Halls Dictionary Of Subjects And Symbols In Art by James A. Hall David Bomberg by Richard Cork Blast by Wyndham Lewis Passing by Nella Larson Beyond The Brillo Box by Arthur C. Danto The Origin Of Consciousness In The Breakdown Of The Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes In Bluebeard’s Castle by George Steiner Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd The Divided Self by R. D. Laing The Stranger by Albert Camus Infants Of The Spring by Wallace Thurman The Quest For Christa T by Christa Wolf The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin Nights At The Circus by Angela Carter The Master And Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov Herzog by Saul Bellow Puckoon by Spike Milligan Black Boy by Richard Wright The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea by Yukio Mishima Darkness At Noon by Arthur Koestler The Waste Land by T.S. Elliot McTeague by Frank Norris Money by Martin Amis The Outsider by Colin Wilson Strange People by Frank Edwards English Journey by J.B. Priestley A Confederacy Of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole The Day Of The Locust by Nathanael West 1984 by George Orwell The Life And Times Of Little Richard by Charles White Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom: The Golden Age of Rock by Nik Cohn Mystery Train by Greil Marcus Beano (comic, ’50s) Raw (comic, ’80s) White Noise by Don DeLillo Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm And Blues And The Southern Dream Of Freedom by Peter Guralnick Silence: Lectures And Writing by John Cage Writers At Work: The Paris Review Interviews edited by Malcolm Cowley The Sound Of The City: The Rise Of Rock And Roll by Charlie Gillete Octobriana And The Russian Underground by Peter Sadecky The Street by Ann Petry Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon Last Exit To Brooklyn by Hubert Selby, Jr. A People’s History Of The United States by Howard Zinn The Age Of American Unreason by Susan Jacoby Metropolitan Life by Fran Lebowitz The Coast Of Utopia by Tom Stoppard The Bridge by Hart Crane All The Emperor’s Horses by David Kidd Fingersmith by Sarah Waters Earthly Powers by Anthony Burgess The 42nd Parallel by John Dos Passos Tales Of Beatnik Glory by Ed Saunders The Bird Artist by Howard Norman Nowhere To Run: The Story Of Soul Music by Gerri Hirshey Before The Deluge by Otto Friedrich Sexual Personae: Art And Decadence From Nefertiti To Emily Dickinson by Camille Paglia The American Way Of Death by Jessica Mitford In Cold Blood by Truman Capote Lady Chatterly’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence Teenage by Jon Savage Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh The Hidden Persuaders by Vance Packard The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin Viz (comic, early ’80s) Private Eye (satirical magazine, ’60s – ’80s) Selected Poems by Frank O’Hara The Trial Of Henry Kissinger by Christopher Hitchens Flaubert’s Parrot by Julian Barnes Maldodor by Comte de Lautréamont On The Road by Jack Kerouac Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonders by Lawrence Weschler Zanoni by Edward Bulwer-Lytton Transcendental Magic, Its Doctine and Ritual by Eliphas Lévi The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels The Leopard by Giusseppe Di Lampedusa Inferno by Dante Alighieri A Grave For A Dolphin by Alberto Denti di Pirajno The Insult by Rupert Thomson In Between The Sheets by Ian McEwan A People’s Tragedy by Orlando Figes Journey Into The Whirlwind by Eugenia Ginzburg

  2. 4 out of 5

    Tobin Elliott

    I almost gave up on this a couple of times. I should have. It was not a biography. It was a list of Bowie's sexual partners. You want to read the book? Okay: 1 - Bowie was gay 2 - Bowie was bisexual 3 - Bowie was well-hung 4 - Bowie was amazing in bed 5 - Bowie was just okay in bed 6 - Bowie had lots of straight sex 7 - Bowie had lots of gay sex 8 - Bowie had lots of sex 9 - Bowie did drugs 10 - Bowie did some other stuff, too 11 - Oh yeah, and he made some albums and movies There. You've read the book. I almost gave up on this a couple of times. I should have. It was not a biography. It was a list of Bowie's sexual partners. You want to read the book? Okay: 1 - Bowie was gay 2 - Bowie was bisexual 3 - Bowie was well-hung 4 - Bowie was amazing in bed 5 - Bowie was just okay in bed 6 - Bowie had lots of straight sex 7 - Bowie had lots of gay sex 8 - Bowie had lots of sex 9 - Bowie did drugs 10 - Bowie did some other stuff, too 11 - Oh yeah, and he made some albums and movies There. You've read the book. Seriously. When I read a biography, I'm looking for insight into the person. How their life influenced their creativity. What sparked certain songs. Where they were emotionally or mentally or spiritually when they created this album. You get none of that here. Just a boring, rote recitation of name after name after name. Any situation described ultimately is only included so the author can indicate if Bowie fucked the others in the situation, or the others lusted after Bowie, or whatever. What a steaming pile of shit this was. Don't read.

  3. 4 out of 5

    William Pauley III

    This is not the biography you want to read, well, unless you are only interested in what tabloids would write about the man. If you're interested in the brilliant musician, talented actor, and fashion icon side of Bowie, look for a more superior biography. Shouldn't be difficult.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jana

    This was a much slimmer book than I was expecting, especially since it promises "the full, unexpurgated truth about the enigma that is David Bowie." Would 310 pages and a photo insert be enough, I wondered? After all, David Bowie has been making his mark in the music industry since the 1960s, in addition to appearing in movie and television roles, traveling around the world, and occasionally (one assumes) sleeping and eating. If she used roughly fifty pages per decade, allowing for the This was a much slimmer book than I was expecting, especially since it promises "the full, unexpurgated truth about the enigma that is David Bowie." Would 310 pages and a photo insert be enough, I wondered? After all, David Bowie has been making his mark in the music industry since the 1960s, in addition to appearing in movie and television roles, traveling around the world, and occasionally (one assumes) sleeping and eating. If she used roughly fifty pages per decade, allowing for the obligatory chapter about his boyhood/adolescence, Wendy Leigh would surely need to be a careful, economical writer, not letting a single word go to waste--right? Wrong. In a word, I am disappointed. To elaborate more clearly, I think it's ridiculous to claim that a book contains anything like the definitive truth about a man who did not provide a single interview for the biography in question. If your subject is not only alive, but of sound mind and body, there is no excuse not to obtain a direct quote. Early in the book, Leigh writes that "the local movie theater...may well have been the first example of architectural excess and opulence David would have encountered in his young life." One way to know would have been to ask the man, rather than make wild guesses. The primary focus of this "biography" seems to be the alleged pan-sexual history of David Bowie until his second marriage in 1992 to legendary model and businesswoman Iman; once his monogamy is confirmed, Leigh writes briefly of the couple's assumed wedded bliss and his exploration of what the Internet means for the future of the music industry. David Bowie has an extensive discography, having released several albums in every decade since his first release in 1967, but very few of them are mentioned by name in the bulk of Leigh's text. There is not a word about his songwriting or recording process, and only two album covers are specifically mentioned due to controversy over the art. Leigh writes extensively about the people Bowie met, the multitudes of men and women that he encountered, the massive quantities of drugs he ingested. Somehow this all must have been financed--perhaps by album sales, or the worldwide tours he performed to support various albums--but Leigh barely mentions them in favor of speculation regarding the size of Bowie's "endowment." The reader is left wondering how claims of Bowie's influence and success as a musician can be supported when no metrics are provided by which to measure said claims. Verifiable numbers like album sales charted over time, or the profit margins of one tour judged against the other, would have been extremely helpful. Equally problematic for me was the shoddy, repetitive style in which the book was written. Anecdotes are haphazardly dropped in the middle of narratives with no explanation why, then repeated and paraphrased in later chapters where their relevance is slightly more clear. For example: In the Introduction, while writing about the spectacle of his second wedding, Leigh mentions a decades-past sexual encounter he had with a woman at a party. (As evidence of Bowie's depthless kindness, which is a strange way to write about that particular concept.) That same incident is brought up again in a much later chapter, when it makes far more sense, but it's still a strange topic. The book is full of awkward sentences and paragraphs which desperately need the help of an editor. Frequently, I found myself needing to read a section twice or three times just to make sure that I understood what was being expressed. "Aware that, far from wanting to mother Zowie, Angie was much more intent on her own ambitions and her lovers, including bass player Scott Richardson, who was into drugs, and, afterward, actor Roy Martin, David hadn't really played a part in Zowie's life until then." If you are interested in David Bowie solely because of the history of his multi-layered sexual identity, then this is the book for you. However, if you are interested in David Bowie as a musician, businessman, actor, or trendsetter within the entertainment industry, you would do well to look elsewhere. I received a free review copy of this book through a First Reads giveaway on Goodreads. This did not affect my review in any way.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Scott Rhee

    The late Wendy Leigh wrote “Bowie: the Biography” two years before Bowie succumbed to cancer. Sadly, Leigh died in June 2016 after falling from the balcony of her London apartment. It may seem like a book tainted by death, but it is, in fact, a celebration of life. Specifically, it is a celebration of the very fascinating, exuberant, occasionally troubled, but wonderful life of David Bowie. There have literally been dozens of biographies written about Bowie, and I’m sure that since his death, The late Wendy Leigh wrote “Bowie: the Biography” two years before Bowie succumbed to cancer. Sadly, Leigh died in June 2016 after falling from the balcony of her London apartment. It may seem like a book tainted by death, but it is, in fact, a celebration of life. Specifically, it is a celebration of the very fascinating, exuberant, occasionally troubled, but wonderful life of David Bowie. There have literally been dozens of biographies written about Bowie, and I’m sure that since his death, more books about him will be popping up on bookshelves in the near future. Leigh’s biography doesn’t add anything new to the story, but it is an entertaining read nonetheless. One of my complaints about the book may be nothing more than a prudish annoyance I had with Leigh’s apparent obsession with Bowie’s sex life. As rich a topic as that may be to mine, I felt that Leigh bordered on the sensationalistic, lascivious, and prurient. In some parts, she went straight over the border and set up camp. Upon finishing the book, however, my thoughts on the topic have shifted somewhat, and I am beginning to see why Leigh focused her attention throughout the book on Bowie’s sexuality. At the height of his Ziggy Stardust era, Bowie was unabashed about his declaration of bisexuality. His Ziggy persona oozed sexuality, which was the point, but, more importantly, Bowie’s wild and open lifestyle gave voice and a glimmer of hope to millions of young men and women growing up in sexually repressive households, cities, and countries. Bowie was bragging about homosexuality and bisexuality in an era when such things were still, for the most part, underground. It was a topic that was, at the very least, not spoken about in decent company, if at all. That Bowie was accused of being “confused” or “pretentious” was, of course, de rigueur for a rock star of Bowie’s ilk, whose day-to-day sexuality was as ephemeral as his fashion sense. But Bowie, according to Leigh, wasn’t being pretentious with his sexuality. He simply didn’t seem to have many inhibitions when it came to whom he slept with. Leigh spends a lot of time on the sexual relationships Bowie had with record producers, agents, and other rock stars. Some of her anecdotes are merely speculation---his short-lived affair with Mick Jagger, for instance, was never substantiated despite rampant rumors. The real question is: who cares? I personally didn’t care who Bowie slept with, nor would I give the book much credence if all Leigh was doing was writing a who’s-who of everyone bedded or blown by Bowie. Thankfully, Leigh was leading up to the climax (no pun intended) of her story: Bowie’s introduction to, and subsequent marriage with, Iman. Apparently, marriage and monogamy eventually suited Bowie well. He was, by all accounts that counted (namely Iman), a loving and doting husband. He was also a very loving and affectionate father to his son, Duncan (from his previous marriage with Mary Angela Barnett) and daughter, Alexandria. Leigh’s book attempts to demonstrate that even a sexually wild rock star like Bowie can find love and happiness in a monogamous relationship.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Cassie Morrison

    When I first saw this book I thought it was probably cheap tabloid filler. I then saw it at the library and gave it a go. I should have judged the book by its stupidly designed cover(seriously, who's uneducated enough to change his eye color?). This is book about who Bowie slept with, and a poorly researched one at that. Halfway through I realized there wasn't even any detail of the actual recording processes. Station to Station was covered with about a sentence saying no one was allowed in. The When I first saw this book I thought it was probably cheap tabloid filler. I then saw it at the library and gave it a go. I should have judged the book by its stupidly designed cover(seriously, who's uneducated enough to change his eye color?). This is book about who Bowie slept with, and a poorly researched one at that. Halfway through I realized there wasn't even any detail of the actual recording processes. Station to Station was covered with about a sentence saying no one was allowed in. The major thing that bugged me the most was the way Coco was introduced. She wasn't introduced as the woman who kept David alive in 1975 when one source said if it wasn't for her, he probably wouldn't be here. No, she is demoted to just another girl in love with David within the first two pages. This books classified women as sex objects even more than Bowie did. The most apparent flaw in the research and cements the cheap "shocking" tabloid aura is the infamous "nazi salute" photo story. In this book it paints the story you'll find most places, out of his mind on cocaine fascist trip Bowie. It then goes on to say how sad it was since Coco was of Jewish heritage and gives a quote of Bowie saying he was just waving and someone took a photo. It failed to mention theres video that shows he was just waving. Its even on YouTube. Its very clear the painting Leigh was trying to paint. While this is an interesting read, its essentially the 50 shades of Bowie in the Bowie biography world. If you have never read a Bowie biography, do not read this one. Starman is quite good, dont waste your time or let this be the primary influence on you. If you know Bowie quite well, this will be hilarious and outraging but overall leaves a dirty taste in your mouth and it wasn't Bowie who left it there. While I enjoy drug binges tales and orgies as much as the Bowie fan, we're Bowie fans because of his music, not his dick size.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    As an avid fan of David Bowie, I couldn't pass up this new biography when it was first published. I've never read any of Leigh's other works, but I felt like I was reading an issue of Us Weekly rather than an actual biography. Sure, Leigh did her research and interviewed many people, but I felt like I was reading a laundry list of everyone David Bowie ever slept with. I'm not naive about the rock n' roll lifestyle - I knew that he had dalliances with many males and females back in the day, but As an avid fan of David Bowie, I couldn't pass up this new biography when it was first published. I've never read any of Leigh's other works, but I felt like I was reading an issue of Us Weekly rather than an actual biography. Sure, Leigh did her research and interviewed many people, but I felt like I was reading a laundry list of everyone David Bowie ever slept with. I'm not naive about the rock n' roll lifestyle - I knew that he had dalliances with many males and females back in the day, but after so many accounts of how giving and awesome of a lover Bowie was grew rather repetitive pretty quickly. Yes, I get it, he was a pale, skinny rock god that made his lovers feel as they were the only ones in the world, but I felt as if Leigh was herself a groupie that never had a shot at the prize, ergo, this book was written. I've always been amazed at how talented and layered Bowie is as both an artist and a human being. I was hoping to read more about his music, especially the years that brought listeners The Berlin Trilogy, but what I read wasn't anything I hadn't read about before. (Although, I will never get tired of the story about how the song "Heroes" was written.) Nothing new was offered at the table. I also hoped to get a better sense of where he came from, family wise, but it was recycled information. This book was interesting to read, but it left a lot to be desired. It was more style than substance, and while Bowie may have been accused of it in certain points of his long career, I would not recommend this particular biography to someone interested in Bowie and his career.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Deena

    This book reads like a fanfic piece written by a sex addict. The writing style is juvenile, poorly edited, often disjointed, and just not good. I was excited to win this book because I really enjoy Bowie's music, but barely a page went by when some conquest of his wasn't discussed in awkward detail. Very little focus was paid to Bowie's music. In a bio about a musician you want to see ALL aspects of the figure: personal, professional, creative. Also, so much of the detail reads like tabloid This book reads like a fanfic piece written by a sex addict. The writing style is juvenile, poorly edited, often disjointed, and just not good. I was excited to win this book because I really enjoy Bowie's music, but barely a page went by when some conquest of his wasn't discussed in awkward detail. Very little focus was paid to Bowie's music. In a bio about a musician you want to see ALL aspects of the figure: personal, professional, creative. Also, so much of the detail reads like tabloid reporting: short on facts, long on conjecture and assumption. Any discerning reader would have a very hard time believing a word of what was written. Do I believe that Bowie was a randy rock star of the 70s? Sure, but dang. The only good thing I can say about it was it was a fast read.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kurt Gottschalk

    About the best thing I can say about this book is that it is a quick read, although the author does demonstrate a serviceable knowledge of pronounce use and with some effort could become proficient in crafting intelligible clauses. A sample sentence: “In May, 1965, now jaded with the Manish Boys, when David heard through the grapevine that the rock-and-roll band the Lower Third was looking for a new member, he auditioned for them and beat Steve Marriott, (who went on to front the Small Faces) About the best thing I can say about this book is that it is a quick read, although the author does demonstrate a serviceable knowledge of pronounce use and with some effort could become proficient in crafting intelligible clauses. A sample sentence: “In May, 1965, now jaded with the Manish Boys, when David heard through the grapevine that the rock-and-roll band the Lower Third was looking for a new member, he auditioned for them and beat Steve Marriott, (who went on to front the Small Faces) and was invited to join the group, which consisted of Dennis Taylor on lead guitar, bass guitarist Graham Evans, and, soon after David joined as lead singer, drummer Phil Lancaster.” (page 48) As a biographer, the author is far more fixated on her subject’s sexual encounters than she is his work, and doesn’t let an opportunity to write about genital size slip through her fingers (so to speak). She is fawning in all aspects of her depiction of her subject, with knowing nods and feigned judgement about his promiscuousness. But it might be for the best that she sticks to writing about sex. The book contains factual inaccuracies about the Velvet Underground and Roxy Music, and she gives Iggy Pop writing credit for “China Girl,” when in fact it was co-written by him and the subject of her book. She also refers in passing to John Lennon being “slaughtered” and points out that Bowie’s family only had a black-and-white television in the early 1950s. There are photographs, and some of them are in color.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Victoria

    This is the biography of Bowie's penis. As many other reviewers said, there's not much about the music, way too many assumptions, few lines about his art and inspiration (except if he slept with her/him) and it's not very well written. I love Bowie and his music, I've been to London only to be able to visit the "David Bowie is" exhibition at the V&A, I find him one of the most attractive, beautiful and interesting men ever, but reading this book made me feel like I was "adoring" a sexual This is the biography of Bowie's penis. As many other reviewers said, there's not much about the music, way too many assumptions, few lines about his art and inspiration (except if he slept with her/him) and it's not very well written. I love Bowie and his music, I've been to London only to be able to visit the "David Bowie is" exhibition at the V&A, I find him one of the most attractive, beautiful and interesting men ever, but reading this book made me feel like I was "adoring" a sexual maniac, a depressive freak, a drug slave, a childish adult with a mental condition. Maybe all those "Bowies" are somehow true in a way, maybe I'm biased, but I refuse to believe this magnificent artist is just what this book presents.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    A more accurate title might be "How David Bowie Slept His Way to the Top". Of course when diving into a musician's biography you expect - and want - sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll, Yet I'd like a bit more of the rock 'n' roll part. There is plenty of source material on David Bowie and this book would be better rounded if it included a bit more info about the songs and David's songwriting process. I supplemented my reading with Nicholas Pegg's The Complete David Bowie to look up the songs and A more accurate title might be "How David Bowie Slept His Way to the Top". Of course when diving into a musician's biography you expect - and want - sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll, Yet I'd like a bit more of the rock 'n' roll part. There is plenty of source material on David Bowie and this book would be better rounded if it included a bit more info about the songs and David's songwriting process. I supplemented my reading with Nicholas Pegg's The Complete David Bowie to look up the songs and albums. It is an amazing reference book and I think I got more out of that book by using "Bowie" as a timeline to flip through Pegg's reference book. “I always had a repulsive need to be something more than human. I felt very puny as a human. I thought, 'Fuck that. I want to be a superhuman.'" ― David Bowie Personally, I'm obsessed in the creation of oneself and subsequent re-invention of oneself, and David Bowie is the master. I tried to read through the lines and determine if he is an incredible narcissist or if his self-respect is just healthy enough that it allows him to do amazing things. I still can not decide. Was he always changing because that was the true him and he is just a man doing what he had to do to tap his creativity? Or was it all carefully planned marketing because he wanted to shock and keep the attention from his fans? Maybe a little of both. Guess that's just Bowie though - always making us wonder. Regardless, I enjoyed the ride stepping through David's evolutions and revolutions throughout the years. One note, I'm glad that they called out David's propensity to spot trends and covered his activity of being the first artist to do many things on the internet. I was a member of Bowienet back in 1998!! I remember how it cool it was that he had a whole community to himself. But they spent more time on Bowienet than they did on the "Station to Station", "Low", or "Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)" albums which is a shame.

  12. 5 out of 5

    AL

    I've been meaning to read a Bowie bio for many years and been told by many of my more hardcore fan friends that there weren't really any that did him justice, which I let dissuade me from being curious and just taking a chance on one. His recent death certainly made my desire more urgent, so I started with this one. I read a couple of reviews that panned this book for certain aspects (which were accurate after reading it) but I found that the author may not be as astute about the history of rock I've been meaning to read a Bowie bio for many years and been told by many of my more hardcore fan friends that there weren't really any that did him justice, which I let dissuade me from being curious and just taking a chance on one. His recent death certainly made my desire more urgent, so I started with this one. I read a couple of reviews that panned this book for certain aspects (which were accurate after reading it) but I found that the author may not be as astute about the history of rock music (David Bowie invented heavy metal?) but she was clearly a fan of Bowie the man and had an ear for gossip, which in the case of a raconteur like Bowie, there was plenty. Sex, drugs and mentions of rock and roll are all on display here, as well as poignant information about his family and upbringing that gave this book a sense that this is not just a tabloid-style money grab by an estranged insider, but a story about an inspirational human being, which Bowie certainly was. There were moments where the author repeats previously told facts that seems almost senile or condescending, but overall this is a good informative read, that at the very least will serve as a good foundation to knowing about Bowie's life. Ms. Leigh has done effective research, reading relevant celebrity biographies and adding some of her own personal interviews, some of which she says were with insiders, mostly not disgruntled. Give it a go! It reads quick.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Larry Bassett

    Sex drugs and rock 'n' roll I would give the first two thirds of this audible book a barely passable review interesting only because it is so out of the norm of my reading. It is full of sex groupies and the entourage. What you always imagine must be the life of a rockstar. The final third of the book was more enjoyable to me as it moved into David's extended life with his long-term wife Iman. There well maybe better books about David Bowie but I picked this one off Amazon because the e-book and Sex drugs and rock 'n' roll I would give the first two thirds of this audible book a barely passable review interesting only because it is so out of the norm of my reading. It is full of sex groupies and the entourage. What you always imagine must be the life of a rockstar. The final third of the book was more enjoyable to me as it moved into David's extended life with his long-term wife Iman. There well maybe better books about David Bowie but I picked this one off Amazon because the e-book and the audible book were inexpensive. I wanted to read about David whose career I never followed closely but who just died recently at the age of 69.

  14. 4 out of 5

    David Bober

    Wendy Leigh seems awfully fixated on the girth of David Bowie's thighs and the length of his penis. Is it possible to give a book less than 1-star?

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ray Campbell

    This was a wonderful biography. Bowie is a God in my pantheon of Rock, so it startled me that I had not read his biography as his story tragically ended too soon. So once again I travel via a book to post World War II London where our hero has his first experiences in life. Much of this is similar to the lives of Clapton, Richards and Stewart though Bowie's story has a distinctly sexually perverse and prolific orientation. Our author, Wendy Leigh, does a wonderful job of creating a portrait of a This was a wonderful biography. Bowie is a God in my pantheon of Rock, so it startled me that I had not read his biography as his story tragically ended too soon. So once again I travel via a book to post World War II London where our hero has his first experiences in life. Much of this is similar to the lives of Clapton, Richards and Stewart though Bowie's story has a distinctly sexually perverse and prolific orientation. Our author, Wendy Leigh, does a wonderful job of creating a portrait of a sexually playful, adventurous and brilliantly creative gentleman whose character was half 19th century school boy and half 20th century sexual/musical revolutionary. With his character sketched and his early experiences documented, Leigh goes on to tell a straight forwardly chronological life story. The story of Bowie has several strong threads that weave together. Leigh goes from lover and relationship to lover and relationship. Interestingly, Bowie's music and acting career is emotionally supported and creatively inspired by his loves and connections. Secondly, Leigh tells the story of musical friends and creations album by album, film by film. Finally, drugs are a huge part of Bowie's life. It is refreshing that as Bowie's life proceeds and responsibility's increase, he takes charge of himself. He always celebrates his victory over drugs. Never the less, he makes no secret of how much he enjoyed the experience of the drug part of his "sex, drugs and rock and roll" lifestyle... Bowie is fascinating. I'll always love his music, his art, acting and the persona he gave us. He was and will always be an icon. I miss him and really enjoyed this biography which fills in details, dispelled myths and set many records straight. The book comes well into the present age. In fact, it only leaves out the final chapter. Perhaps future editions will have a epilogue. "I'm happy, hope your happy too... "

  16. 5 out of 5

    Spencer Rich

    I'll put it this way: if you're hoping to find out which guitar Carlos Alomar is playing on which album, this is not the book for you. If, on the other hand, you want to know when, where, and if Bowie bonked Bianca, it may be right up your alley. In fact Bowie's own member gets a lot more words than any band member. Not to say that Bowie's private life and private parts aren't interesting reading material, and the author does a reasonably good job of combing various sources to try and sort fact I'll put it this way: if you're hoping to find out which guitar Carlos Alomar is playing on which album, this is not the book for you. If, on the other hand, you want to know when, where, and if Bowie bonked Bianca, it may be right up your alley. In fact Bowie's own member gets a lot more words than any band member. Not to say that Bowie's private life and private parts aren't interesting reading material, and the author does a reasonably good job of combing various sources to try and sort fact from fiction--this, of course, being an impossible job in Bowie's case. It's lurid tabloid stuff and not a bad read if you're taking a plane across the water or going cross country on a bus or train. But if you're a young musician hoping to learn recording secrets shared by Eno and Bowie, forget it. There's plenty of other thin white duke material out there over which to pour.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    I enjoyed this book only because I love David Bowie and enjoyed reading about his life and career. The book itself is poorly edited and written in a jarring and drab style. Things got especially hairy in the second half when the author stopped recounting things chronologically and jumped around from the 80s onwards. Interesting if you love Bowie, but I feel like there are most likely better bios out there.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sallee

    I've read several other biographies about David Bowie and this one was fairly good. It showcased his drug years and his rampant sexuality which is why most people read rock-star bios. The part I found most interesting was his mature life. I was glad to see that with age his life is truly fully developed.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Bruce

    Lot's of details of Bowie's life, mostly gleaned from other sources, concentrating on his drugs and sex life, but very poorly written and/or edited. I found it repetitious, wordy, exploitative, and hard to read. Again, for the Bowie-phile, if there is such a thing, it might provide some detail but I wouldn't go out of my way to read to it. It was a gift and Christmas time so...

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kaethe Douglas

    I knew it was a supremely stupid book as soon as I got it home:the photo on the front has been colored so that Bowie's left eye is brown and his right eye is blue. Bowie does not have two differently colored irises. Library copy

  21. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    Gushing, but oh so awkward. I'm now slightly embarrassed this book caught my eye at the library, and wish I had not picked it up.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Coaker

    Pleased to say I got this as a free offer, because it's terrible.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ea Solinas

    David Bowie's sexuality was an integral part of his musical career -- his gender-bending, elegantly androgynous appearance and his declarations of bisexuality. It also seems to be the only part of his career that Wendy Leigh is actually interested in, because that is the unifying theme of the rather pretentiously-named "Bowie: The Biography." While most of Bowie's career is examined, Leigh merely skims over the parts of it that didn't revolve around him having sex, who he was having sex with, David Bowie's sexuality was an integral part of his musical career -- his gender-bending, elegantly androgynous appearance and his declarations of bisexuality. It also seems to be the only part of his career that Wendy Leigh is actually interested in, because that is the unifying theme of the rather pretentiously-named "Bowie: The Biography." While most of Bowie's career is examined, Leigh merely skims over the parts of it that didn't revolve around him having sex, who he was having sex with, how they were having sex, and preferably as many details as possible (like drag queens banging on the door). Technically Wendy Leigh gives a pretty decent account of Bowie's life, both on and off stage -- his early life with a feisty and unconventional mother, his early music career and struggles to make it big, his involvement in the cultural attitudes that swept England at the time, his relationships with other musicians, his two marriages and fatherhood, and how he settled down from a wild rock god to an immortal, eternally-cool one. But she seems oddly preoccupied by his sex life, which she establishes early in the book when she talks about how he asked, in a most gentlemanly way, for a sexy young woman to accompany him for a quickie in the bathroom. From there, Leigh almost fixates on who/what/when/where/why/how Bowie had sex -- his bisexuality, his swinging lifestyle with his now-ex-wife Angela, the orgies held at their houses, his shocking pronouncements about his sexual identity, his various onstage personae... and of course, every single person he ever slept with, as far as I can tell. In fact, she almost seems to lose interest when Bowie divorced Angie, and eventually settled into a life of monogamous contentment with Iman instead. While technically referring to this as another stage in his amorphous sexual life, Leigh seems to grow bored with Bowie after that -- the final chapter of the book covers a good fifteen years of his life, but skims by everything in it quickly, as if she were just desperate to finish now that the salacious stuff is past. In other words, this might as well have been called "Bowie: The Sexual Biography." And as such, it's kind of tiresome -- like receiving a thin slice of meat smothered in cotton candy. You end up wanting more substance, but keep receiving nutritional fluff. While details of Bowie's sex life are part and parcel of any biography of the man's life, they're so prevalent and so excessive in this book that you end up wishing she would focus on any other part of his life. It even seeps into how Leigh addresses other people in Bowie's life, such as her coverage of his ex-wife Angela, which is quite detailed but ultimately about her jealousy and all the kinky things she and Bowie did. But it's not only what she includes (I didn't need to repeatedly hear about hookups with random ladies in the bathroom) but what she leaves out; the detail wouldn't be as out of place if she had given the same treatment to his career. However, it often feels like the career is treated as window-dressing rather than the central show. Leigh's writing is fairly decent, and she digs up some interesting factoids about David's career and how it went (such as how he was financially cheated by a crooked "manager," or how he responded to the 9/11 disaster where his wife and child were near the Towers), and it honestly left me wishing that she had done more in-depth reporting on what Bowie's life was like in its entirety.It's not as if there's a dearth of information on things he did other than sex, since others have easily managed it and will likely do so again. In brief, "Bowie: The Biography" is a flufftastic experience for those who want a frisson of pop star salaciousness -- for those interested in the fuller details of Bowie's life, give it a pass.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Amy Fortuna

    Disappointing to say the least. David Bowie is my icon. I have so much admiration and respect for this man, and when he passed away, I was truly devastated (and still am to this day). So the idea of reading a biography about him was awesome, and I was so excited. But this biography did no justice to the man I have so dearly loved since I was a child. Let's start this off by saying I have NO problem with sex. I have no problem with reading things that are erotic. And I know that sex was quite a Disappointing to say the least. David Bowie is my icon. I have so much admiration and respect for this man, and when he passed away, I was truly devastated (and still am to this day). So the idea of reading a biography about him was awesome, and I was so excited. But this biography did no justice to the man I have so dearly loved since I was a child. Let's start this off by saying I have NO problem with sex. I have no problem with reading things that are erotic. And I know that sex was quite a significant part of David's life, and I was expecting it to be talked about in this book. However, there was so much more to him as a person than just his sex life, and I got none of it while reading. When reading a biography, you're looking for a story about the person's life and upbringing, their inner circles, their creative processes, their struggle to success, etc. etc. What this biography brought to the table was nothing more than "who slept with whom... every person that met David fell in love with him... his romances with people are what helped him garner attention to his art... he had no real friendships, only rumoured affairs... oh, and in case you didn't catch the first 70 times it's been mentioned, Bowie had a big you-know-what...". It was exhausting, and if I'm being honest, quite insulting to David Bowie himself. I don't know if he ever read this particular book while he was alive, but I truly believe he would have hated it. And he also would have hated that even though he was alive when this was written, this author never bothered to look to him for an interview or any insight into the things she was writing. He would have hated how his entire life and career was boiled down to all of his rumoured love interests over the years. That all of his genuine relationships and friendships that he must have had with the people around him turned into "Were they sleeping together?" Did he have a very active sex life? Yes, everyone who knew him agrees with that. Is it possible that some of the rumours about him and certain people were actually true? Surely, there were so many rumours and so many people that it's nearly impossible that absolutely none of them really happened. But if these things are the only thing about him that you are inspired to write about, then you are a bad writer. As a reader, I'm telling you that I don't give two shits about how well endowed he was, I care about how his life influenced his art and how the people closest to him viewed him as a person. I care about who he was, not who he did. He was the embodiment of art and creativity and prosperity and hard work, so you cannot tell me that his love-life was more pressing and more interesting that you needed to write an entire book about it. And I would have no problem if that is what this book was marketed as: a tale and re-telling of his sexcapades and all of the rumours that surrounded him throughout his life. But that isn't what this book is marketed as. Yes, it says "an erotic journey" on the front, but as a whole, it's meant to be a biography of his life and career. The author skimmed over everything that didn't include a sexual interest and never went into detail about what makes him him. A better title would be "Bowie: A Bedroom Biography". And the writing itself was just simply poor as well. It read to me as more of a tabloid article than a professional biography. It felt cheap, sleazy, incredibly shallow. There was no real content. I would rather believe that Wendy Leigh runs a gossip blog than writes actual books.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lynette

    I think this book should be renamed David Bowie's Penis: Where It's Been, What People Think of It, and How It Was Used, a Biography with Bonus Mini-Biography of Iman. The author clearly has zero interest in David Bowie beyond his cocaine-fueled sexcapades era in the 70s and early 80s, and you can tell by the sheer weight of the text focused on this versus the rest of his life. My copy of this book (thankfully from the library, so my wallet does not bemoan my poor judgement as much as my time I think this book should be renamed David Bowie's Penis: Where It's Been, What People Think of It, and How It Was Used, a Biography with Bonus Mini-Biography of Iman. The author clearly has zero interest in David Bowie beyond his cocaine-fueled sexcapades era in the 70s and early 80s, and you can tell by the sheer weight of the text focused on this versus the rest of his life. My copy of this book (thankfully from the library, so my wallet does not bemoan my poor judgement as much as my time does) has 271 pages. On page 229, Bowie meets Iman and the next 50 pages are dedicated to that relationship peppered with brief mentions of Bowie's professional, artistic, and/or intellectual accomplishments in the 24 years between the Sound + Vision tour, during which he met Iman, and the publication of this book. There are constant mentions in both the narrative and quoted material about how intelligent Bowie was, and yet what we get is a vapid blow-by-blow of how well hung he was, who he was fucking, and how he manipulated people with his giant junk despite how he was "the epitome of the English gentleman." Wendy Leigh drags us through all the different name changes of Bowie's first born Zowie/Joey/Joe/Duncan, but somehow makes the rather shocking error of referring to Ziggy Stardust's successor as "Aladdin Insane," indicating (to me at least) that the woman has very likely completely missed the point of just about any and everything Bowie has done with that tiny two-letter screw up. All of this is on top of the whiplash of the narrative bouncing back and forth, sometimes months at a time, sometimes decades, to where you really need to already have a fairly good handle on the general timeline of Bowie's career to understand what she's getting at. So, ultimately, Wendy Leigh has managed to take a man who has straddled the music, fashion, film, and literary industries along with being a critical part of the discourse on sexuality in the Western world and whittled him down to simply *who* he straddled. If you want any real insight into Bowie the person, look elsewhere, but if you're looking for a Groupie's Guide to David Bowie, then this is totally the book.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Bill reilly

    Wendy Leigh begins this biography with a list of David Bowie’s conquests, from Susan Sarandon to Bette Middler and numerous others. The funniest anecdote involves the faded and horny sixty-four year-old former TV star Loretta Young in 1977. We now have the term cougar for such women. David Jones was born on Elvis’s birthday of January 8, only twelve years later. His earliest musical interest was piqued by Little Richard’s “Tutti Frutti.” At seventeen David sang and played saxophone. His well Wendy Leigh begins this biography with a list of David Bowie’s conquests, from Susan Sarandon to Bette Middler and numerous others. The funniest anecdote involves the faded and horny sixty-four year-old former TV star Loretta Young in 1977. We now have the term cougar for such women. David Jones was born on Elvis’s birthday of January 8, only twelve years later. His earliest musical interest was piqued by Little Richard’s “Tutti Frutti.” At seventeen David sang and played saxophone. His well known bisexuality is chronicled and the gay side was initially career motivated. Davey Jones fame as a Monkee resulted in the name change to Bowie, a British war hero and not the American knife. His first album was a flop but in 1969, the single “Space Oddity” was a hit. By 1971, it was the NYC atmosphere of Max’s Kansas City and the “in” crowd of Andy Warhol, Iggy Pop, and Lou Reed. “Starman,” released in 1972, made Bowie a star. His American wife Angie shared in David’s voracious sexual appetite for both men and women. The cocaine fueled orgies were never ending in the 1970’s, and, miraculously, they somehow survived. He recorded several successful albums and became an acclaimed actor after appearing in the film, “The Man Who Fell to Earth” and the play, “The Elephant Man.” I recommend the movie, “Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence.” David met the model Iman in 1990 and they married a year later. After a lifetime of infidelity, the rock star, at forty-four, finally settled into a life of domestic tranquility and monogamy. The book was published two years before Bowie’s death at sixty-nine.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ziggy

    I really enjoyed this book because it has so much information that's put into a story and I found it easy to read through. The author had a great hook to the beginning and was great with the ending. I would recommend this book to any extreme Bowie fan due to the amount of detail and with the plenty of information given from with in the book. Obviously this book is about David Bowie but this book unwraps/releases the hiding secrets and untold life of Bowie that other authors seem to leave out. I really enjoyed this book because it has so much information that's put into a story and I found it easy to read through. The author had a great hook to the beginning and was great with the ending. I would recommend this book to any extreme Bowie fan due to the amount of detail and with the plenty of information given from with in the book. Obviously this book is about David Bowie but this book unwraps/releases the hiding secrets and untold life of Bowie that other authors seem to leave out. Overall, this book was an astonishing exotic journey.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Erlend Bergsagel

    To quote Lou Reed, and other reviews there is a lot of: "Did you see what she did to him, did you hear what they said" and "Did you hear who did what to whom, happens all the time. Who has touched and who has dabbled here in the city of shows" But there is also the story of a man building an image. Some facts about Bowie i didn't know. But the book is also vague on a lot of stuff where I would like to know more. Sometimes a little rushed. I do not regret reading this book

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tracey

    I read this as an audiobook, and while it was somewhat interesting, it wasn't really great. If you want to know about his sex life and drug usage, this is where you want to go. It was also rather disconcerting to have a male narrator for a female authored book. Overall, it was slightly disappointing, but it burned up some hours in the car, so I guess I can't be entirely mad. But I'd've been better off just listening to Bowie sing.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Yumi Kaioh

    I was really into Bowie and this book awoke my Bowiemania during this hard period of writing a thesis. However, Wendy writes as if she was gossiping, is that alright? Nope, it isn't. Now I know that apparently Bowie had a huge penis and allegedly slept with a lot of women and men. Lol, why do I care?

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