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Books  >>  Biography

Wendy Leigh

Bowie

Wendy Leigh Bowie The Biography
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Excerpt from book:

    TWO  

 STARBOY

         When David was about three years old, his mother caught him putting on makeup for the first time. Not hers, but makeup belonging to the tenants in the apartment upstairs; lipstick, eyeliner, and face powder, which he daubed all over his little face.

         “When I finally found him, he looked for all the world like a clown,” Peggy Jones remembered in 1986.

         Shocked and amused, she rounded on David and told him in no uncertain terms that he shouldn’t use makeup. If that edict had been handed down to him by his father, whom he idolized, and whose calm temperament he appeared to have inherited, he might have accepted it. Instead, David said, somewhat reproachfully, “But you do, Mommy. . . .”

         In the spirit of fairness, Peggy agreed, but then hammered home her point that makeup was definitely not for little boys. It doesn’t take Sigmund Freud to analyze the ripple effect that Peggy’s ruling had on the three-year-old David when he grew up, feeling as ambivalent about her as he did. . . .

         However, only a few years later, Peggy did back down and encourage David’s childish tendency toward theatricality, perhaps because she saw her own passion for singing reflected in him, and perhaps also because she intuited his nascent talent. After she sewed David a robe and headdress, and his father made him a crook for his role as a shepherd in the nativity play put on by Stockwell Infants School, which he first attended when he was almost five, Peggy observed how much he loved dressing up. “It was then that we realized that there was something in David,” she said.

         That realization was compounded by David’s reactions when he listened to the radio, in particular to American entertainer Danny Kaye’s “Inchworm.”

         “He would tell everyone to be quiet and listen, and then fling himself about to the music,” said Peggy, adding, “In those days we thought he might become a ballet dancer.”

         However, David’s exhibitionist tendencies did not find favor with his aunt, Peggy’s sister Pat, who sniped, “He was a vain child, and he always tried to look different.” Clearly irritated by David’s childish vanity, Pat targeted his hair: “He always liked to comb it his way, forward, with a quiff by his ear. If you combed it, he always had to do it again himself. He looked at himself a lot in the mirror,” she said.

         David may have looked in the mirror a good deal, but only child or not, he wasn’t in love with himself. Instead, his hero as a small boy was his half brother, Terry. Space in Stansfield Road was at a premium, and Terry and David shared the ground-floor bedroom. Consistently kind and loving to David, Terry compensated in part for Peggy’s coldness and inability to express her feelings.

         Nonetheless, David’s pain at his mother’s failure to demonstrate maternal warmth toward him inevitably took its toll. “I was cut off from my feelings since I was maybe four years old,” he revealed.

         Even then, as a very small child, David was already attracted to the limelight, and the limelight, in turn, appeared to be attracted to him. When David was five, his father had a brief stiDiscover the man behind the myth in this new biography of one of the most pioneering and influential performers of our time—David Bowie.

David Bowie—the iconic superstar of rock, fashion, art, design, and the quintessential sexual liberator—is a living legend. However, for the past five decades, he has managed to retain his Hollywood star mystique. Now, New York Times bestselling author Wendy Leigh reveals the real man behind the mythology. Through scores of interviews with Bowie’s lovers (both male and female), his girlfriends, business associates, groupies, and band members, Leigh, who grew up just a mile from where Bowie was born and went to school, has written an intimate biography of rock’s greatest enigma.

In an unexpurgated exploration of Bowie’s kaleidoscopic personal life, she reveals his star-crossed inheritance—his mother was once an acolyte of the British Fascist party; his father, the PR genius who masterminded his early career—in a dramatic contrast to those family members grappling with mental illness, fears that would haunt Bowie for most of his life.

Above all, there is Bowie’s hard-won rise to fame and fortune, his astounding creativity, his courage as a performer, and his shape-shifting style, coupled with a ruthless ambition that caused him to submit to the casting couch on his way to the top. In the process, Leigh tells of Bowie’s strong bond with John Lennon, his love/hate relationship with Mick Jagger, his male sexual partners, and his women, as disparate as Elizabeth Taylor, Susan Sarandon, Tina Turner, Marianne Faithful, Nina Simone, and most notable, his marriage to Iman, which has lasted for the past quarter of a century.

Featuring a sixteen-age insert with many never-before-seen photographs of David Bowie and those close to him, this biography is a once-in-a-lifetime look at the iconic superstar who changed the world.


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