Bowie: A Biography Paperback – Oct 5 2010
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“BOWIE is inspired, edge-worn, loud, quiet, observant, humble, gorgeous, and humane. If the record business loved music as much as Marc Spitz does, there would still be a record business.” —Dan Kennedy, author of Rock On: An Office Power Ballad
“A breezy, well-lit portrait of the ever-enigmatic rocker . . . Spitz’s encyclopedic knowledge and obvious appreciation for Bowie’s work separate this book from countless cookie-cutter rock stories.”
“Spitz concentrates on the complex evolution of Bowie’s music to deliver an evenhanded, critically thorough, while still reverential, life of the Thin White Duke.” —Publishers Weekly
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
MARC SPITZ’s writing on rock ’n’ roll and popular culture has appeared in Spin, the New York Times, Maxim, Nylon, Blender and Uncut (UK). He is the author of How Soon Is Never?; Too Much, Too Late; and Nobody Likes You: Inside the Turbulent Life, Times, and Music of Green Day and coauthor with Brendan Mullen of We Got the Neutron Bomb: The Untold Story of L.A. Punk.
From the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
I haven't quite got to the end yet (savouring it) but am thoroughly enjoying the content. Very well written.
The book was gifted to me. Everyone knows I'm a huge Bowie fan. I have to admit, I was a little disappointed as I slogged through the first couple of chapters. It was hard to read. I had to keep leafing through the Oxford English Dictionary. I also kept running to the internet to cross reference some of the material. Maybe this is why it took me 18 months to finish reading it. Having said all that, it was a fantastic read full of unknown treasures. Each page was like opening up a surprise birthday gift. "Ooooooh!"
Aside from providing an accurate chronology, Marc Spitz includes his own savvy insights as to some of Bowie's motives and obvious strange behaviors. He is also compassionate in his coverage of Bowie's nearest and dearest. It's not easy being that close to "Stardust".
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The book succeeds at providing a context and a sense of what it might actually have been like to be Bowie, especially in the 70s. I enjoyed the feeling that the author was contemporary to me and was therefore able to relate Bowie to the wider context of popular and independent music through the last 40 years and more. This means not just referring to T Rex or Gary Numan, but later icons such as Radiohead and The Smiths. The author also supplies a socio-cultural context when appropriate. And he has done his fair share of interviewing and sourcing, as he provides new and insightful inputs from key players in Bowie's life. But what is particularly apparent to me is the sense that I am reading a factual narrative rather than a methodical biography. I don't know if that makes sense - I'm certainly not suggesting it reads like an historical novel, but it seems that the important things here is to get a sense of a life rather than be bogged down by exhaustive detail.
This doesn't mean that it lacks information - there is a whole lot of it. But anyone who has read extensively about Bowie will notice omissions and neglects. Some live LPs get overlooked as does the release of the Ziggy Stardust movie in any great detail. Angie Bowie basically vanishes from thought after a couple of years with no reference to this absence, only to re-appear briefly in reference to child custody. The book misses Bowie's revolutionary use of merchandising and self-promotion as he took on the world with the Serious Moonlight tour in an attempt to recapture the wealth lost/eluded in the Defries years. The rich detail one gets about discrete moments in time, even from Mojo and Uncut magazines, is just too amiss from here. (The bulk of the book is set in the 60s and 70s, and the 80s, 90s and 00s are treated slimly, but this is how almost every Bowie book approaches this, somewhat unfortunately yet unsurprisingly).
And yet, I really enjoyed the book. Because of what it is, a great story that indicates the heart and soul of the Bowie story in a way that more detailed books don't deliver. If you are a passing fan and want to read a thrilling representation of the Bowie psyche and mythos, this might well be the one for you.
If you're an obsessive, you'll want to make sure you read other books about Bowie as well, but definitely give this one a go. As far as the others go, `Alias David Bowie : a biography' by Peter Gillman and Leni Gillman is excellent. I enjoyed George Tremlett's `Living on the Brink', which includes a look into his latter financial success. `David Bowie : Moonage Daydream' by Dave Thompson is a great read with a whole heap of awesome pictures. Finding a copy of `David Bowie: An Illustrated Record' would be suitably rewarding. And for a truly encyclopedic reference, get `The Complete David Bowie' by Nicholas Pegg. You might need to find a used copy and any edition will probably do. `Strange Fascination: David Bowie - The Definitive Story' is meant to be excellent and will probably be in my hands when I want to read about Bowie again.