I first saw David Bowie at Chicago’s Auditorium Theater on October 7, 1972. Bowie was mesmerizing; he held that room in the palm of his thin white hand, and blew us all away.
I’ve been a fan ever since, so when BOWIE, a bio by Wendy Leigh, came out, I gave it a read.
Share a few tidbits? I’d love to.
Bowie was born on Elvis Presley’s 12th birthday. (January 8, 1947)
He had one brown eye and one blue eye.
His mother caught him putting on makeup for the first time when he was three years old.
His mom never kissed him.
In his youth he was a chain smoker, an avid reader, a terrible flirt and a slob who “always expected other people to clean up after him.”
Early influences included Elvis Presley, Lou Reed and Anthony Newley.
Liz Taylor once told him that he reminded her of James Dean.
He had an addictive personality and ingested a mammoth amount of drugs.
In his prime, he had “an enormous” sexual appetite and enjoyed walking around naked, “his long, weighty penis swaying from side to side like the pendulum of a grandfather clock.” After Dark magazine described his equipment as “unusually large, almost inhuman.”
His first wife Angie referred to his penis as “the Lance of Love.”
Pop star Lulu said he had “beautiful thighs.”
He wasn’t at all monogamous. Going off to spend time with a lover, he told his partner at that time that he was “going to Hampstead Heath to watch for flying saucers and UFOs.”
“When we met,” Bowie said about first wife Angie,” we were fucking the same bloke.”
He and Angie had a (very) open marriage, and both enjoyed a lot of sex with a lot of people.
Cherry Vanilla, his spokeswoman in the ’70s, told a radio host that Bowie routinely made love to everyone who worked for him at least once. (And, she said, he was a great kisser.)
He was scared of flying. When one flight’s delay in taking off was announced, Bowie’s response was “Oh, God. That means the pilot’s drunk and they’re feeding him black coffee.”
He owned a desk that once belonged to Nazi Joseph Goebbels.
For a time, he saved his urine in bottles.
When he first met Andy Warhol, he played the newly written song “Andy Warhol” for him. Warhol didn’t like it.
Good friends included Mick Jagger, John Lennon, Liz Taylor and Lou Reed.
He and Iggy Pop used to watch “Starsky and Hutch” together.
Bowie once designed wallpaper for Laura Ashley.
“What I love about David,” his wife Iman once said, “is that he’s a true gentleman.” The two of them, married in 1992, were homebodies who read out loud to each other.
In his last decades, Bowie no longer drank or did drugs, and enjoyed a monogamous marriage.
In 2003, Bowie was offered a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II. He turned it down.
Given how ground-breaking Bowie’s music was, his unconventional early years should come as no surprise. Nor should his later, more sober and settled-down life. Many of us have followed a similar trajectory. If you lived through those times, BOWIE should bring back some great memories of a wild and crazy era.