Since he appeared on the creative scene, David Bowie He always considered himself a writer and composer, not so much a musician. He began his career creating songs and texts for others, focusing his activity on musicals and theatrical works. However, cin time he revealed himself as a true showman, an animal that gave everything on stage, with a personality and looks that made him the perfect and transgressive artist that everyone wanted to see live.
Throughout his career, Bowie experimented with many and varied characters. Each album, each creative stage, asked him for a different interpretation, and the White Duke adopted as many identities as there were ideas in his head. On The Man Who Sold The World we met his side closest to androgynous rock glam, and then we would meet his other great alter egos, Major Tom and Ziggy Stardust. The process of getting on stage and opening up to the public was not easy for Bowie., and for that he knew how to cover himself with different personalities, the most eccentric, to feel comfortable.
“I am quite satisfied with my own individuality. I don’t think I have to try so hard to explain that I am not a part of rock ‘n’ roll, that I have my own identity; I only use rock ‘n’ roll,” Bowie once said. In an interview. “I had to be very exaggerated at first to challenge people to put me in a category that would give me room to work. “
Most of the time, these characters were directly linked to the music Bowie created, as an extension of the messages he conveyed. Ziggy Stardust he was the protagonist of the album Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, and there he told the story of his alter ego in Five Years, the one of that extraterrestrial that sent the message of the imminent destruction of the Earth.
Until 1976, the musician was linking a series of different personalities, which he left behind when he focused on his well-known Berlin trilogy with Low, Heroes Y Lodger. That’s when he dared to be himself. During the 1970s, the lines that separate his different characters are often fuzzy, but it is easy to find at least five different characters:
He is the most momentous character in Bowie’s career. The artist himself defined him as “the archetypal rock star messiah, that’s all he wanted to do. I used the ornaments of the Kabuki theater, the technique of mime, the fringe music of New York. It was the British vision of the energy of the streets of New York. “
It appeared in 1972 on his album Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, and was the last space rock alien Bowie, who it warned of the little time that our planet had left. Like an omniscient storyteller, come down to tell us how resources are running low. He was a very thoughtful and mature character, with that characteristic red hair and a retro-futuristic aesthetic that has been imitated to infinity.
David Bowie, during a concert on the Ziggy Stardust tour in 1973. / Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns
The musician rose to fame, but that didn’t stop him from developing other personalities. Aladdin Sane was his sixth album, released in 1973, and it was an evolution of Ziggy, as if he moved to the United States and was influenced by the styles that reigned there. The new character had a tougher attitude than the previous one, more rocker, and has even been considered by critics as a tribute to the Rolling Stones.
Alladin Sane has always been interpreted as a pun to represent mental health. Bowie’s brother was schizophrenic, and somehow he was always very interested in such illnesses when he composed to reflect it in his songs.The Man Who Sold The World is a good example of this trend.
Mural tribute to David Bowie after his death in January 2016. The image represents the cover of his album ‘Aladdin Sane’. / Jim Dyson/Getty Images
He was a character created for the album and tour of Diamond Dogs 1974. It appears on the album cover and is mentioned in songs. Like Aladdin Sane, this new personality is just another Ziggy Stardust mutation, one that inhabits the dystopian world that emerged after the war. He is described as a ‘cool cat’ who lives in Hunger City, inspired by the novel 1984 from George Orwell.
Halloween Jack is more cartoonish and less theatrical than Ziggy. He wore an eye patch and dressed in other androgynous pirate clothing. “We did the Diamond Dogs tour from New York to Los Angeles and we thought it was enough. Instead of coming back with the same thing, he wanted to give me the opportunity to work with the band“Bowie told Dick Cavett on the talk show.
David Bowie, performing the song ‘Rebel Rebel’ on German television in 1974. / Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns
The White Duke
When he landed in Philadelphia during the tour of The Diamond Dogs, was carried away by American soul, funk and dance music. This exposure to the Philadelphia soul scene would culminate in Bowie writing Young Americans 1975.
The character was not fully realized until his 1976 album, Station to Station, in which the name is referenced in the title song. At this point, the character became much more sinister and dark. He began to develop a serious addiction to cocaine and allegedly also He flirted with black magic, fascism and developed a deep fascination for Adolf Hitler. Bowie began to look back to Europe in search of the future of music, and thus he would end up in Berlin, Switzerland and France to record. Low, Heroes Y Lodger.
David Bowie, durante la gira ‘Station To Station’, en 1976. / Jorgen Angel/Redferns
The blind prophet
David Bowie’s latest album, Black Star, was released just two days before his death, which makes the release that much more epic. The album paid tribute to the creative life of the star, with many of the songss reviewed familiar dystopian environments that you have explored many times before.
When the music videos for two of the songs came out, Lazarus Y Blackstar, they revealed a new character that was in both of them. It was a man with a bandage over his eyes and two black buttons placed where his eyes would be. One cannot help wondering that perhaps the blind prophet be bowie’s acknowledgment of his impending doom and, therefore, of their mortality.
In general, the different characters that Bowie played during the 70s are very interconnected and share the same DNA, although there are some definable differences. All of them are related to show different personality traits of an unrepeatable artist.