Wednesday 24 January 2018

Re-invention of an icon: David Bowie's musical personas

Clockwise from top left: Ziggy Stardust/Aladdin Sane, Halloween Jack, The Thin White Duke, Tin Machine
Clockwise from top left: Ziggy Stardust/Aladdin Sane, Halloween Jack, The Thin White Duke, Tin Machine

Bowie constantly re-invented himself through his 46 year musical career. Here are his most notable musical personas

Ziggy Stardust (1971-73):

Bowie’s bisexual alien rock-star was his first and most famous persona. He performed his first show as Ziggy in February 1972, before releasing the album in June 1972. The character made a kind of return for 1973’s Aladdin Sane – Bowie’s first number one album – which the singer described as “Ziggy goes to America”. In July 1973, Ziggy announced his “retirement” onstage in London, surprising his bandmates.

Halloween Jack (1974):

Loosely inspired by George Orwell’s 1984, Bowie’s 1974 album Diamond Dogs is set in the dystopian Hunger City, stalked by feral gangs of dog-men. Bowie had originally intended to produce a stage musical, and later a film, but neither project came to fruition.

The Thin White Duke (1976):

Described by Bowie as “a nasty character indeed,” the waistcoat-wearing Duke was his alter-ego for the krautrock-infused album Station to Station. At the time, the singer claimed to have been living on “red peppers, cocaine and milk.”

Tin Machine (1989-92):

For once, Bowie tried to look nondescript. This hard rock side-project was a “democratic” alternative to his solo-career; the four band-members split profits equally.

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