With the release of "Moonage Daydream" Sept. 16, Stacker compiled 25 things about David Bowie's life that you may not know, drawing from biographies, magazine interviews, and movie and music databases.

David Bowie: A Life Story You Might Not Know

With the release of “Moonage Daydream” on September 16, Stucker has compiled 25 facts about David Bowie’s life that you might not know from biographies, magazine interviews, and movie and music databases. — Michael Putland // Getty Images

Ellen Wulfhorst

David Bowie: A Life Story You Might Not Know

David Bowie was one of the most intriguing musicians of our time, constantly reinventing himself and influencing countless others along the way.

The theatrical flare, creativity, sexual ambiguity, and Bowie’s incredible music kept the public interested. With the September 16 release of Moonage Daydream, a 2022 documentary about Bowie’s life and career featuring never-before-seen footage, Stacker compiled a list of 25 things you might not know about David Bowie’s life, based on news reports, biographies, magazine interviews, and movie and music databases.

He recorded over two dozen albums, including Blackstar, which was released just two days before his death. He played over a dozen instruments, including a right-handed guitar, although he was left-handed. Bowie’s concept album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars introduced his glam rock image to the world in 1972. Four years later, he starred in The Man Who Fell to Earth. By the end of the 1970s, he was off drugs and appeared in The Elephant Man on Broadway.

Two years after his heart attack in 2004, Bowie performed three songs on stage with Alicia Keys in New York. This was his last performance. Within a year of his death, Bowie and Blackstar received four Grammy Awards. In 2019, the BBC reported that David Bowie had won a broadcaster poll as the greatest entertainer of the 20th century, beating out Charlie Chaplin, Billie Holiday and Marilyn Monroe.

“I like crazy art and, in most cases, outside music.” Bowie once said. “Instead of having a hit song these days, I like the idea that I’m there to change the plan of how society and culture look and sound. I changed things; I knew I would. It’s great and very helpful.”

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Karl Court //Getty Images

1947: Born in Brixton.

David Bowie was born on January 8, 1947 to David Robert Hayward-Jones in Brixton, London. His father, Haywood Stenton Jones, came from a wealthy family who were partners in the Public Benefit Boot Company.

California/Redferns // Getty Images

1960-1962: Learned to play the saxophone, got hit

Bowie became a jazz fan and started playing the saxophone at the age of 13. He attended Bromley Technical High School with Peter Frampton, whose father was a school teacher. When he was 15, a friend hit him in the eye. Due to the injury, one of his pupils was permanently dilated, making it appear that his blue eyes were two different colors.

Mark and Colleen Hayward // Getty Images

1962: Kon-Radov debut

Bowie formed his first band, the Kon-Rads, in 1962. He was a member of the Hookers Brothers, then the King Bees, and later joined the Lower Third.

Cyrus Andrews/Michael Oks Archives/Getty Images

1966: Davy Jones becomes David Bowie

The musician adopted the nickname David Bowie in 1966. He tried to use Davy Jones, but it was the same name as the lead singer of the Monkees. He chose his new name in honor of American pioneer Jim Bowie, who is credited with the Bowie knife. A year later, he released his first self-titled album.

RB/Redferns // Getty Images

1969: Space Weird is released.

Bowie’s single “Space Oddity” was released just a few days before the launch of the American Apollo 11 to the moon. It was his breakthrough hit, reaching the top five in Britain.

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Peter Stone/Mirrorpix/Getty Images

1970: Married to Angela Barnett

Bowie married model and actress Angela Barnett in March 1970. Their marriage lasted 10 years. Under the divorce agreement, Barnett was unable to reveal the details of their marriage for several years. In 1992, she released a memoir titled Backstage Passage: Life on the Wild Side with David Bowie.

Hulton-Deutsch/CORBIS/Corbis Collection via Getty Images

1970: Trip to America

Bowie released The Man Who Sold the World in late 1970. The following spring, he made his first trip to America to promote it.

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1971: a son is born

Duncan Zoey Haywood Jones was born to David Bowie and Angela Barnett on May 9, 1971. Bowie’s son, who was first named Zoey, was later named Joe and then Duncan Jones. He became a screenwriter and director.

Michael Oks Archives/Getty Images

1972: The Rise of Ziggy Stardust

Bowie released the cult album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars in June 1972. Many music lovers were first introduced to Bowie’s glam rock character Ziggy Stardust when he appeared live on Top of the Pops in 1972. Bowie toured as Ziggy Stardust until mid-1973.

Bettmann // Getty Images

1972: Produced by Lou Reed, Iggy, Motta Hupla

In 1972, Bowie produced Lou Reed’s Transformer (with the hit “Walk on the Wild Side”), as well as Iggy & The Stooges’ Raw Power and All The Young Dudes’ Mott the Hoople. He also wrote the title track for the Mott the Hoople album.

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Richard Creamer/Michael Oks Archives/Getty Images

1972: Interview Cuming

AT magazine interview Bowie said in 1972 that he was gay. But in a later interview with Rolling Stone magazine in 1983, he said he made it up, calling himself “secret heterosexual”. On other occasions, he referred to himself as bisexual.

The Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

1975: “Young Americans”, a collaboration with John Lennon.

The album “Young Americans” was released in March 1975. It included a collaboration with John Lennon on the song “Fame”, which became Bowie’s first No. 1 single in the US. R&B singer Luther Vandross provided background vocals on the album.

British Lion Film Corporation

1976: “The Man Who Fell to Earth”

The musician starred in the 1976 science fiction film The Man Who Fell to Earth. He played an alien who goes to Earth in search of help in saving his home planet.

Bettmann // Getty Images

1977: Christmas with Bing Crosby

Bowie appeared on Bing Crosby’s Christmas television special, which was taped in London and aired after Crosby’s death. The pair performed a duet version of “The Little Drummer Boy”.

Michael Oks Archives/Getty Images

1977-1979: Lived and worked in Berlin.

From 1977 to 1979, Bowie lived in the German capital and released the so-called “Berlin trilogy” of albums: “Low”, “Heroes” and “Lodger”. After Bowie’s death, fans attempted to rename the street he lived on “David-Bowie-Straße” or “David Bowie Street”.

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Richard E. Aaron/Redferns // Getty Images

1978: The story “Peter and the Wolf”

While on tour in 1978, Bowie performed “Peter and the Wolf” with the Philadelphia Orchestra. The album is no longer published, it has become a collector’s item.

Albert Foster/Mirrorpix/Getty Images

1980: Divorce and Broadway show

Bowie, who had moved to Switzerland, and Angela Barnet filed for divorce in early 1980. Later that year, Bowie starred in the Broadway production of The Elephant Man.

Koh Hasebe/Shinko Music // Getty Images

1981: Collaboration with Queen

Bowie collaborated with Freddie Mercury and Queen to record the single “Under Pressure” in 1981. It became his third song to reach number one on the UK charts. Bowie originally wanted the song to be called “People in the Streets”.

Phil Dent/Redferns // Getty Images

1983: “Let’s Dance” sells millions of copies

Released in April 1983, Let’s Dance quickly became Bowie’s most commercially successful album, selling some 7 million copies worldwide. The album’s producer said it was made in just 17 days.

The Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

1992: Marriage to model Iman

Bowie and supermodel Iman married in 1992. Bowie’s son Duncan Jones was best man. Bowie proposed to Iman near Pont Neuf in Paris.

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Magma/WireImage Agency // Getty Images

1996: Hall of Fame induction

In 1996, Madonna inducted the musician into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The following year, he was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2000, he refused the royal honor of Commander of the Order of the British Empire, and three years later he refused the knighthood.

Frank Micelotta/ImageDirect // Getty Images

2001: Tribute to New York

In 2001, Bowie and Iman had a daughter, Alexandria Zahra Jones. Later that year, he gave a moving performance at the Concert for New York at Madison Square Garden after the 9/11 attacks. He performed the Simon and Garfunkel song “America”. “and his own work” Heroes.

Brian Rasik // Getty Images

2004: Heart attack on stage

While touring in support of his Reality album, Bowie suffered a heart attack while performing in Germany. He underwent urgent angioplasty.

JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images

2016: Death by cancer

On his 69th birthday, Bowie released his album Blackstar. He died of cancer two days later. “David Bowie passed away peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18-month battle with cancer,” his website said in a statement.


2016: Ashes scattered in Bali

At the time of his death, Bowie’s net worth was estimated at $100 million. His body was cremated and his ashes scattered on the Pacific island of Bali.

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