David Bowie: Thin White Major Aladdin Stardust

David Robert Jones changed his last name to that of the inventor of the Bowie knife.

In 1971, I won a David Bowie album called Hunky Dory, from WNPC, the New Paltz (NY) college station. I was only vaguely familiar with the guy, from that Space Oddity song. (In the day, I was very good at winning things from the radio stations I listened to because I had very good dialing fingers, an advantage lost when the redial button was invented.) I liked the LP, though it was kind of strange. My roommate Ron HATED it, except for one song, something called Changes.

Then I got Ziggy Stardust. Played it until the grooves practically wore out, especially some songs on Side 2: Star, Suffragette City, and the title track. Got Aladdin Sane considerably later, but I liked Pin-Ups, the covers album; and much of Diamond Dogs.

Two things I definitely watched at the time: Bowie “singing” Golden Years and Fame on Soul Train in November 1975, and the bizarre pairing of Bowie on the 1977 Bing Crosby Christmas special, which aired AFTER the older crooner had died. Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy became an unlikely Christmas standard.

I could go on, through his “comeback” in the early 1980s, and onto Tin Machine, which didn’t click with me. I did find it funny that two of Soupy Sales’ sons were in the band, especially since Soupy and David shared a birthday.

Arthur wrote how David Bowie helped change his life, which you should just read. Like him, I didn’t know Bowie was sick, from cancer, for well over a year, which added to the shock, I’m sure. That and the fact I’d been playing Bowie music this past week in honor of his natal day this past Friday.

Chuck posted a bunch of Bowie songs; oddly, I cried during the Queen/Bowie track Under Pressure. But he didn’t include one of my favorites, Panic in Detroit. Also, listen to the new one, Lazarus, a “parting gift” for fans, which is, in its own way, as resonant as Johnny Cash’s cover of Hurt, or Warren Zevon’s last album. I was going to buy the Blackkstar album yesterday from Amazon, but it was temporarily out of stock on CD and vinyl; it will be his first U.S. #1 album.

If you’re on Facebook, you should go to the page of Adrian Belew and read a piece from about 11:30 a.m. on January 12 that starts, “In 1978 I did my first tour of Europe as ‘stunt’ guitarist and singer for Frank Zappa’s band. The night we played in Cologne, Germany unbeknownst to me Brian Eno was in the audience. Brian knew David Bowie was looking for a new guitarist for his upcoming tour.”

The cliche is to say “he was an original,” but seldom has it been more true. Here’s his 1996 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame description. Watch David Bowie as Pontius Pilate, from Martin Scorsese’s movie Last Temptation of Christ.

David Robert Jones (8 January 1947 – 10 January 2016), who changed his last name to that of the inventor of the Bowie knife, so he would not be confused with a Monkee, rest in peace. I am very sad.

More links

Los Angeles Times: David Bowie, the transformative musician, and multi-dimensional artist, dies at 69

The late pop icon was interviewed by 60 Minutes in 2003, but the story never ran. Overtime unearths the Bowie tapes.

David Bowie’s 100 Favorite Books

Michael Huber: David Bowie: What we keep…

BoingBoing: Mourning David Bowie (photos) and Bowie year-by-year in photos

Conan Remembers David Bowie and Bowie Secrets

Esquire: I Didn’t Love David Bowie, But I Love What He Taught Me

Shooting Parrots: The Man Who Sold the World

SamuraiFrog remembers

Bowie bonds


Bowie’s mugshot, posted on Facebook by Jeff Sharlet.

For weed, in Rochester, with Iggy Pop. The local paper reported: “His biggest greeting was the screams of about a half-dozen suspected prostitutes awaiting arraignment in the rear of the corridor outside the courtroom.”

As someone on my FB page commented, “Oh, you pretty thing.”

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

4 thoughts on “David Bowie: Thin White Major Aladdin Stardust”

  1. It must have been a great shock for the fans of David Bowie to hear about his death.

    I know that he had eyes of two different colours!
    Wil, ABCW Team

  2. I left this reply to your comment on my blog, but I’m reposting here, in case you don’t see it over there. “wow…fantastic, Roger! I used to be good at winning things from radio stations, too, and share many of your favorites. I discovered a serendipitous recording of the Bowie/Crosby match-up at the end of an old movie I had recorded on a VHS tape, and was pleasantly surprised that I had thought to capture it, as I’m not a fan of Christmas carols. I saw Adrian Belew’s tribute, as well as so many others (Iggy Pop, Rolling Stones, Tina Turner, etc.), and my heart goes out to his beautiful wife, Iman. thanks for stopping in!”

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