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Great Londoners: David Bowie

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By Roger Woolman – Imported from 500px (archived version) by the Archive Team. (detail page), CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=74048708

David Bowie, one of the greatest musicians of all time, was born in Brixton, London in 1947. He spent most of his life in the city, and it played a significant role in shaping his music and persona. Bowie’s music is known for its experimental and innovative nature, which reflects the dynamic and ever-changing atmosphere of London.

Bowie’s music career started in the 1960s when he formed his first band, The Konrads. However, it was not until the early 1970s that he became a household name with the release of his album ‘The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.’ The album’s concept was based on a fictional character named Ziggy Stardust, who was an androgynous alien rock star who came to Earth to save humanity. The album’s success propelled Bowie to international stardom and cemented his status as a cultural icon.

Bowie’s connection to London is evident in many of his songs. In ‘Five Years’, a track from ‘Ziggy Stardust’, he sings about the end of the world, describing the chaos in the streets of London as people try to come to terms with their impending doom. The song ‘Changes’ also reflects the city’s constantly evolving nature and the need to adapt to survive.

Bowie was also heavily influenced by the London art scene of the 1960s and 1970s. He was a frequent visitor to the city’s art galleries and museums, and his music often featured references to the works of artists such as Francis Bacon and Salvador Dali. Bowie’s interest in art is reflected in his music videos, which often had an artistic and avant-garde feel.

Bowie’s connection to London is perhaps best demonstrated by his association with the city’s fashion scene. His androgynous style and flamboyant stage outfits were a reflection of the city’s vibrant fashion scene in the 1970s. Bowie’s iconic ‘Ziggy Stardust’ persona, with his bold makeup and outlandish costumes, became synonymous with London’s fashion and cultural scene.

Bowie’s music was not only influenced by London, but it also influenced the city’s music scene. His innovative and experimental approach to music paved the way for many of the city’s punk and new-wave bands in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Bands such as The Sex Pistols, The Clash, and Siouxsie and the Banshees were all heavily influenced by Bowie’s music and persona.

Bowie’s love for the city never waned, even after he achieved international success. He continued to live in London for most of his life and was a familiar face in the city’s music and cultural scenes. He was known for his support of local charities and causes, including the homeless charity Crisis, and was awarded an honorary degree by the University of the Arts London in recognition of his contribution to the city’s cultural landscape.

David Bowie’s life and music were deeply intertwined with London. The city’s dynamic and ever-changing atmosphere provided the perfect backdrop for his innovative and experimental music. Bowie’s influence on the city’s music, fashion, and cultural scenes is still felt today, and his legacy as one of London’s greatest artists will continue to inspire generations to come.

Author: jonathan

Jonathan is a consummate Anglophile who launched Anglotopia.net in 2007 to channel his passion for Britain. Londontopia is its sister publication dedicated to everything London.

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