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Sheargold Music Legends - Legend #2 - David Bowie

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In the lead up to our Summer Rock School, Sheargold Music have begun a blog project to showcase some of the most inspirational, talented, and legendary musicians from around the world. For the next few weeks we will be running through our favourite artists, bands and composers, giving our reasons as to why they are true legends in music.

Image courtesy of Thuany Gabriela  Flickr CC Licence

Legend #2 – David Bowie

The music of David Bowie landed in the public domain with a psychedelic thump back in July of 1969 with his song ‘Space Oddity’ reaching number five in the UK singles chart. Since then, Bowie has achieved unprecedented international success as both a musical genius and a talented actor, with 23 studio albums released and roles in 27 feature length and short films. Bowie has also collaborated with other musicians, directors, producers, and actors in a career that spans over four decades.

History

David Robert Jones was born in the Brixton area of London in 1947, and lived there during his early years before relocating to nearby Bromley where he got a taste for music and the arts after being given several music records by his father, including LP’s by Elvis Presley, Fats Domino, and Little Richard. Bowie has been quoted as saying “I heard God” upon listening to ‘Tutti Frutti’ by Little Richard.
Bowie first started playing music by picking up the ukulele and also trying his hand at the wash-tub bass (a rudimentary stringed instrument traditionally consisting of a wash tub or barrel and a moveable stick conjoined by a single string), before progressing onto the saxophone in his teenage years. Bowie has not only been influenced by the rock ‘n’ roll music of Presley and Little Richard, but has a passion for jazz, which is clearly displayed in some of his compositions.

As David began to take his first steps into his musical career, his previous stage name of Davy Jones was changed to the now iconic David Bowie. The main reason behind this was due to confusion between Bowie, and Davy Jones of ‘The Monkees’.

Music

Bowie’s music has not only spanned many years, but has also spanned the genres too; psychedelic folk, glam rock, soul, and electronica.

After the release of his album ‘Space Oddity’ in ’69, Bowie began churning out material and albums at a phenomenal rate, with 10 albums released between 1970 and 1977 which included the hit songs such as:

  • ‘Ziggy Stardust’
  • ‘Life on Mars?’
  • ‘The Man Who Sold The World’
  • ‘The Jean Genie’
  • ‘Aladdin Sane’
  • ‘Heroes’

Bowie continued to write songs and produced one album to cap off the 70’s with the release of ‘Lodger’ in 1979. Moving into the 80’s, Bowie started to embrace more of the synthesised instruments that became popular, as well as using vocoders to transform his vocal parts which are particularly prominent on his song ‘Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)’ from the album of the same name. 

Bowie has released a further 10 albums from 1980 through to 2003 and has toured the world extensively during his career, providing dazzling live shows through his many stage personas such as Ziggy Stardust and The Thin White Duke.

Bowies continual pushing of musical boundaries, his awesome stage presence, visionary compositions, and distinctive vocals have cemented him as not only a legend in music, but also as an inspiration for new generations of musicians and singers.

Equipment

David is a highly talented instrumentalist who can play the saxophone, lead, rhythm, and bass guitars, drums, pianos and keyboards. Bowie has played many instrumental parts within the studio setting, and also during live performances.

In the live environment David has collaborated with many of the worlds’ leading musicians who form his stage band. Most notable amongst these is Mike Garson, who has supported Bowie both live and in the recording studio by playing pianos and keyboards.

Mike can be most prominently heard on the title track from the album ‘Aladdin Sane’, where his avant-garde piano solo forms the centrepiece for this progressive song. Use of discordant notes and jazz like styling lend themselves to Bowie’s own eclectic and enigmatic musical style.

Mike uses a Yamaha P90 digital piano, and here at Sheargold we are pleased to offer a special deal on the Yamaha P95, the successor to the now discontinued P90. To view this product please click here or to view our wider range of superb digital pianos click here.

We also offer a piano hiring service both for long term or short term periods. These options are a very cost effective way to access top quality instruments if you are looking to learn or need a piano for an upcoming concert or event.

Bowie has also been a fan of using acoustic and electric guitars during his concerts, and favoured them during his earlier career. Guitars are one of the most popular entry level instruments for aspiring musicians, and Sheargold Music specialise in acoustic and electro-acoustic guitars, as well as providing electric guitars, amps, and effects pedals, all of which you can view and purchase in our online shop.

Recommended Listening

The sheer expanse of David Bowie’s music makes it extremely difficult to pick just three of our favourites; however we have selected the tracks that not only display Bowie’s incredible skills as a musician, singer and performer, but that also evoke an emotional response and feelings of nostalgia. We hope you enjoy our selection:

Space Oddity – Live

The song that launched David Bowie onto the scene right at the start of his career shows off Bowie’s ability to create extremely catchy tunes whilst also retaining a heavy dose of psychadelia.

http://youtu.be/pXSGocWifAg

Let’s Dance – Live

This live performance is truly mesmerising, beginning in a more mellow version of the first verse and the pre-chorus, building into the pop funk to the delight of the audience and indeed all of us here at Sheargold Music. Astounding.

http://youtu.be/jxe-iylVQSY

Life on Mars – Live

We are suckers for Bowie live, hence why we have included three examples of his amazing concerts. This rendition of ‘Life on Mars’ is quintessential Bowie viewing and listening, a masterpiece of song writing, live musicianship, and staggering stage presence from Bowie who effortlessly commands the entire performance. Oh, we also really really want to have a go on that headless electric guitar!

http://youtu.be/pMUveqCp8Ns

We hope you have enjoyed this Music Legends post. Don’t forget that you can still book a place on our Summer Rock School or our Children’s Music Workshops, both of which are running at the end of July and throughout August – for more details please see our Music School information page.

For more information on any of our products and services please contact us