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Starman: David Bowie - The Definitive Biography

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Starman * David Bowie is one of our greatest icons. This is the definitive biography. Full description


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Starman * David Bowie is one of our greatest icons. This is the definitive biography. Full description

30 review for Starman: David Bowie - The Definitive Biography

  1. 5 out of 5

    Scarlet Cameo

    English review at the bottom "Todo el mundo era accesible, él era inalcanzable" David Bowie fue, y seguirá siendo, el camaleón del rock n 'roll. Es la prueba que no importa si usted no es, naturalmente, el mejor, si trabajas lo suficientemente duro puedes convirtirte en el mejor, ser más que un ídolo ... Ser una Leyenda. "Los buenos artistas copian, los genios roban." Él hizo todo lo que necesitaba hacer para se convirtirse en una estrella ¿era cruel? Probablemente, pero nadie se sintió herid English review at the bottom "Todo el mundo era accesible, él era inalcanzable" David Bowie fue, y seguirá siendo, el camaleón del rock n 'roll. Es la prueba que no importa si usted no es, naturalmente, el mejor, si trabajas lo suficientemente duro puedes convirtirte en el mejor, ser más que un ídolo ... Ser una Leyenda. "Los buenos artistas copian, los genios roban." Él hizo todo lo que necesitaba hacer para se convirtirse en una estrella ¿era cruel? Probablemente, pero nadie se sintió herido o botado. ¿Fue difícil? Mucho, lucho mucho tiempo para estar donde deseaba. Fue un artista, pero sobre todo fue un fan: é se creó a sí mismo a partir de la segunda para ser lograr ser el primero. Soy un gran fan de Bowie, he estado enamorada de él desde que escuche "Space Oddity" hace 14 años, pero nunca leí una biografía grande de él, sólo pequeños artículos en revistas o enciclopedias. Pero desde ese momento vi que no era la estrella más concida, pero probablemente era una de las más influyentes. Este libro nos muestra cómo creo un mundo completamente diferente para explotar su talento, incluso cuando muchas personas no creían en él, él seguía haciéndolo y, cuando la fe había terminado, reinventó su música, su persona y sis colaboradores. Este aspecto fue el que le dio la fama de ser frío y despiadado, pero no era exactamente así, Tryna hacer un trabajo impresionante en investigar y presentar la naturaleza íntima Bowie y el Perfil profesional. Incluso cuando fue la misma persona la ideología, la actitud y las obsesiones eran diferentes, pero nunca estuvieron completamente separados. Y ahora, sobre el libro. Está escrito un poco a manera de revista, por lo que nunca se siente como si fuera pesado o aburrido, de heho deja la sensación de que se puede leer por una eternidad y aun así terminarías rápidamente. No es tanto como un estilo literario y Trinka veces habla como si estuviera en el momento en que se está describiendo, y de alguna manera estaba ahí. Al final, incluso cuando esta biografía tiene algunos defectos, no peca de tomar el camino fácil y presentar lo que los fans de Bowie esperan, da una imagen de la música y de la persona, no una imagen de su exceso y frustraciones. Las fotografías son absolutamente preciosas y muestran cómo Bowie evolucionó desde el niño de Brixton al hombre de Nueva York, de la locura adolescente al padre de familia, desde chico pretencioso del 1960 a la leyenda de la de 2000. Sí, a veces se ve como una línea de tiempo, pero, para mí, era la mejor manera de presentarlo. No se puede hablar sobre el futuro si no se presenta el pasado, las bases y, con Bowie, todo se trata de eso. "[...] Lo que el buscaba era un mecanismo sorprendente para escapar; queria desaparecer como Houdini del estrellato pop" La parte triste. Para este momento Bowie ha muerto, pero de alguna manera creó el escenario perfecto. ]Hizo su sueño realidad, creó una cortina impresionante para decir adiós a este mundo que, sin él, será muy diferente. Su trabajo: Lazarus, Su último single y un verdadero adiós: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-JqH... Lady Grining Soul: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABDnA... Starman, canción y la presentación con la que su carrera despegó: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v342T... I'm afraid of americans: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7APm... Rebel Rebel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9MAez... Space odditty: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D67km... Rock n' roll suicide: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CD1nz... Under pressure: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YoDh_... Dancing in the street: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9G4jn... All the young dudes/Heroes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJ6T9... _______________________________________ "Everyone was accessible, he was unreachable" David Bowie was, and will remain, the chameleon of rock n' roll. Is the prove that no matter if you are not naturally the best, if you work hard enough you can became the best, be more than an idol...be a legend. "Good artists copy, geniuses steal." He made everything he need to do to became a star, Was cruel? Probably, but nobody feel hurt or thrown. Was difficult? So much, he fight so many time to be wherever he wish, was an artist but mostly was a fan. He created himself form the second to be the first. I'm a big fan of Bowie, I've been in love of him since i heard "Space Oddity" 14 years ago but i never read a big biography of him, just little articles in magazines or enciclopedias. But since that time I saw that he wasn't the most knowing star but probably was one of most influential. This book show us how the man created a completelly different world to exploit his talent, even when so many people didn't believe in him, he do it and, when the faith was over, he reinvented his music, person and collaborators. This aspect was the one who give him fame of be cold and ruthless, but he wasn't exactly like that, Tryna make an awesome job investigating and presenting the Bowie intimate nature and the professional perfil. Even when was the same person the ideology, the attitude and the obsessions were different, but never were completely separate. And now, about the book. It is writing a little like a magazine, so you never feel like it was heavy or boring, even more it let you the feeling that you can read it for a eternity and you gonna finish it quickly. Isn't so much like a literary style and Trinka sometimes talk like he was in the moment that is describing but, somehow, he was. At the end even when this biography has some flaws, doesn't sin of taking the easy road and present what Bowie fans was expecting...a picture of the music and the person, not an image of their excess and frustrations. The photos are absolutely beautiful and shows how Bowie evolved from the Brixton kid to the New York man, from the crazy teenage to the family dad, from the 1960's pretentious guy to the 2000's legend. Yes, sometimes looks like a timeline but, for me, was the best way to present it. You can't talk about the future if you don't show the past, the bases and, with Bowie, everything is about that. "[...]What he was looking was a surprising mechanism to escape; want to disappear like Houdini from pop stardom." The sad part. By this moment Bowie has died, but somehow he created the perfect stage. His dream come true, created the awesome curtain to say goodbye to this world that, without him, will be so different. His job: Lazarus, his last single and a truly goodbye song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-JqH... Lady Grining Soul: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABDnA... Starman, song and presentation with which his career took off: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v342T... I'm afraid of americans: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7APm... Rebel Rebel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9MAez... Space odditty: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D67km... Rock n' roll suicide: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CD1nz... Under pressure: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YoDh_... Dancing in the street: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9G4jn... All the young dudes/Heroes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJ6T9...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Antonomasia

    Unlike most people who've reviewed this book online, I haven't already read five other David Bowie biographies. Till recently I didn't know a whole lot about the man, and had heard shockingly little of his work, especially considering that I first listened to a whole Bowie album in 1993 and I've always considered him inspiring and iconic ... in a somewhat abstract sense ... as well as hot. So whilst I can't compare this with other books about David Bowie, nor nitpick at the veracity of anecdotes, Unlike most people who've reviewed this book online, I haven't already read five other David Bowie biographies. Till recently I didn't know a whole lot about the man, and had heard shockingly little of his work, especially considering that I first listened to a whole Bowie album in 1993 and I've always considered him inspiring and iconic ... in a somewhat abstract sense ... as well as hot. So whilst I can't compare this with other books about David Bowie, nor nitpick at the veracity of anecdotes, what I can say is that this is a bloody good read, never ostensibly dumbed-down, and never drudgery, as most books of this length are at times; I got through 350+ pages of it in two days. Trynka is usually a good, but not obtrusively witty or stylish, writer: he creates focus on his subject and story, not the words. What you generally want in a biography, then. I grew up with the idea of 1980's plastic corporate Bowie, and then his 1990's avuncular re-canonisation in the wake of Suede and the early Manics - and prior to the last few weeks had no idea of Bowie the mid-70's occultist, or of Davie Jones' long apprenticeship before he appeared perfectly formed in albums such as Hunky Dory. Though most notably confounding here is the character of Bowie himself, hero to outcasts and weirdos, as a consistently punctual, hardworking, smooth-talking, bouncing back, positive visualisation, in-control kinda guy. Trynka deftly meshes the contradictions into perfect sense: "David was a pro, a man who knew how to work the system, but had an instinctive sympathy for those who couldn’t, those practitioners of what writer Irwin Chusid terms Outsider Music; erratic people like Syd Barrett, Iggy Pop ... David would follow their star-crossed careers, and their fate infuses songs like the gorgeous ‘Lady Stardust’." Trynka's Bowie is a real , multi-dimensional character: understanding, caring and supportive, ruthless, cold and calculating. It may be a good book, but all you really need to appreciate why Bowie drew generations into his orbit is here in this three and a half minute version of Starman, from Top of the Pops in 1972.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jackie "the Librarian"

    A comprehensive, sympathetic recounting of David Bowie’s life and extensive career. Following Bowie’s recent death, I realized how little I knew about Bowie, and how shallow my knowledge of his music was. And yet, he’s been a constant presence in my life. I have his Changes greatest hits collection on vinyl, I’ve laughed at Bowie and Jagger trying to out outrageous each other in their video “Dancing in the Streets,” watched Bowie on MTV in his Let’s Dance video, and seen Bowie in the movies, Lab A comprehensive, sympathetic recounting of David Bowie’s life and extensive career. Following Bowie’s recent death, I realized how little I knew about Bowie, and how shallow my knowledge of his music was. And yet, he’s been a constant presence in my life. I have his Changes greatest hits collection on vinyl, I’ve laughed at Bowie and Jagger trying to out outrageous each other in their video “Dancing in the Streets,” watched Bowie on MTV in his Let’s Dance video, and seen Bowie in the movies, Labyrinth and The Prestige. I’d sung along to Space Oddity and enjoyed Commander Chris Hadfield’s rendition from the International Space Station Bowie’s presence in modern culture has been pervasive, but I really didn’t know anything about his life. This biography covers Bowie’s life up until 2009, and it is obvious the author is on Bowie’s side. He counters the idea of Bowie being cold and unfeeling over and over again (which feels a little odd, because he doesn’t usually say where this negative portrayal is coming from), and puts the best possible light on Bowie’s relationship with his son, Duncan. The details on Bowie’s sexual life are minimal, the reader is kept outside the bedroom, and the author pooh-poohs the idea of Bowie and Jagger possibly having had an affair as nothing more than a disgruntled ex-wife’s imaginings. So if you’re looking for a tell-all, this isn’t it. This is a very respectful biography. Which isn’t a bad thing, I didn’t want Bowie dragged through the mud. Based on this account, Bowie was a good friend to have, but despite his career, an introvert who preferred privacy to living his life in the public eye. He brought the best out of the musicians he worked with, he supported his friends’ careers, and he was a consummate professional in the studio. He may have partied hard as a young man, but he worked even harder. I’m surprised there wasn’t more emphasis on the importance of Bowie to the outsiders, the GLBTQ community and others who feel like misfits. Bowie was a champion to them, and his importance in this respect can not be overstated. The best thing about this book is the attention to the music and the sources of Bowie’s inspiration for each album. It piqued my curiosity, and I’ve been listening to each album as it has been covered (thanks, Youtube!) There is so much more to Bowie than his greatest hits. I recommend Queen Bitch from Hunky Dory, and TVC15 from Station to Station, and his early albums, from The Man Who Sold the World up through Let’s Dance in 1982, are all worth a listen.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Isorgu

    The book is very terrific.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tosh

    Two words, David Bowie. And its two words that i say to myself for the past 40 years or so. I wouldn't say I was obsessive about the man and his work, but for sure a fan. And I don't think he's a genius. I think he is a highly motivated hard worker who had to study his craft to become what he had become. Which, of course, is a great pop star - and an incredible singer. But also a wow gee songwriter. In other words he has the whole package. The theater world, the black american music world, the ga Two words, David Bowie. And its two words that i say to myself for the past 40 years or so. I wouldn't say I was obsessive about the man and his work, but for sure a fan. And I don't think he's a genius. I think he is a highly motivated hard worker who had to study his craft to become what he had become. Which, of course, is a great pop star - and an incredible singer. But also a wow gee songwriter. In other words he has the whole package. The theater world, the black american music world, the gay world, and of course the pure showbiz of it all that is one thing that separates Bowie from other rock artists - his love and respect for showbiz. He may grown to hate it, but he will never deny its special power over himself and his audience. My favorite part of the Bowie story is his young years trying to break into the pop music world. And he tried for at least 12 years before the Ziggy Stardust thing happened. No overnight success story here, but just a lot of hard work and hustling. And speaking of hustling, this bio really shines on the gay British pop music world of the early 60's. Bowie knew who was spreading the butter - and he played up to the expectations of that world. There are a lot of good books on Bowie and there will be more. But this is an exceptionally good biography on the man, and one still after reading it, wants to know more. And that is why he's a star.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nikki Stafford

    This book is fine for a basic year-by-year chronology of Bowie, but it seemed very skewed. Trynka leaves out really important controversies and moments throughout Bowie's life, as if it would hurt his overall thesis, which is: Bowie was someone who only thought of Bowie, and who used musicians and then dumped them. Interesting, since when Bowie died almost a year ago not a single person made any comment of the sort. He doesn't mention Angela Bowie's vicious tell-all (clearly because he interview This book is fine for a basic year-by-year chronology of Bowie, but it seemed very skewed. Trynka leaves out really important controversies and moments throughout Bowie's life, as if it would hurt his overall thesis, which is: Bowie was someone who only thought of Bowie, and who used musicians and then dumped them. Interesting, since when Bowie died almost a year ago not a single person made any comment of the sort. He doesn't mention Angela Bowie's vicious tell-all (clearly because he interviewed her for the book and then sided with her) and instead said she was single-handedly responsible for the entire idea of Ziggy Stardust and then when he was done with her, he tossed her aside. Not that she wrote a terrible book about the father of her son or anything... let's not mention that. Labyrinth is covered in a single sentence. He refers to Scary Monsters as Bowie's last great album, as if he's never actually listened to Outside (later when listing off Bowie's band members for the Heathen tour, he spells a name wrong). There are moments where Bowie emerges as a hero, but only to the detriment of someone else — Iggy Pop seems to be one step away from a homeless person on a street corner but for Bowie — but even Iggy has nothing more to do with Bowie after a time and Trynka says he accused Bowie of stealing everyone else's ideas and reshaping them for his own purposes. I couldn't figure out where exactly Trynka was coming from throughout the book until one telling line, where he says that Bowie read everything written about him and would obsess about bad reviews. He says that Bowie read something about himself in Mojo Magazine in the late 90s and harped on about it forever afterwards in other interviews: one quick look at the book jacket, which shows that Trynka was actually the editor-in-chief of Mojo two years after the article that infuriated Bowie, suggests that perhaps he was the one who penned — or at least oversaw — the very article that Bowie was angry about. Anyway, the book is fine, but not very interestingly written, and a little too anti-Bowie for my tastes. I hope, now that the Starman has passed on, a comprehensive biography will finally be written, involving all of the people who worked closely with him and could give a fairer account.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Rob

    This purports to be the "definitive" biography of David Bowie and is indeed hefty and pretty all-encompassing. Paul Trynka was the editor of Mojo magazine, which pioneered the legacy-expanding form of rock journalism in the UK from the mid-1990s. Bowie was certainly one of their faves, since they liked focusing in more depth on a particular album or phase of an artist's career and for this Bowie's phases were ideal. Does Starman deliver? Well, yes and no. Trynka is pretty thorough on his beginnin This purports to be the "definitive" biography of David Bowie and is indeed hefty and pretty all-encompassing. Paul Trynka was the editor of Mojo magazine, which pioneered the legacy-expanding form of rock journalism in the UK from the mid-1990s. Bowie was certainly one of their faves, since they liked focusing in more depth on a particular album or phase of an artist's career and for this Bowie's phases were ideal. Does Starman deliver? Well, yes and no. Trynka is pretty thorough on his beginnings, avoiding too much of the prurient hearsay-inspired interest in the casting couch, while leaving in enough innuendo to ensure it's not a whitewash. He focuses more (and rightly) on the hardworking element of Bowie's assault on the music business. The lad never gave up, plugging away for 6 years with practically nothing to show for it. And he didn't just get there in the end, he ended up leading a crowded and talented pack. Throughout this book the writing is literate and flowing although there is the odd annoying ooh-ah such as Bowie perhaps knowing "more about Germany" than the intellectuals preparing the staging of Baal in 1982. Bowie, known to be well-read and intelligent, surely doesn't need this kind of pathetic cheerleading. Rock bios have the advantage of plenty of material to hand, with the concomitant disadvantage of the over-familiarity of all this material. In the case of this book I think there's an over-reliance on pull-quotes and repetition of certain key points that often makes it feel like a lengthy magazine bio. Another problem in many rock bios is that the narrative is shaped by the same narrative that was sold by the rock press at the time. Sometimes there's an attempt to recontextualise an artist, but in the case of Bowie, whose career arc for most people is summed up in the boring and reductive line "hasn't made a great album since Scary Monsters", this totally reactive approach makes for a lessening of tension as the years pass. Granted, this book was written before the 2013 comeback album The Next Day, and before the Nothing Has Changed 3CD set, which offers up his career backwards and cherrypicks a whole album's worth from his 90s and 00s albums (a good album at that), before taking him all the way back through many classics (but not all, witness lack of Station to Station and others) to the rather embarrassing Liza Jane. It's a great approach, and one which makes you reconsider his later work and marvel at his evolution and range. Perhaps it would have given a shot in the arm to Trynka's waning interest in Bowie's career. The real elephant in the room in this book is the failure to talk to the man himself (although it is clear that he is not going to be a truly reliable source), or to answer or even set out some pretty major questions. The breakdown of his relationship with Angie occurs almost bafflingly, given her having been so integral to his image during his breakthrough years. His falling out with Mick Ronson, to the point where he avoided Ronson's tribute concert, is not really explored. Jealousy is suggested, that Ronson was too pivotal to Bowie's songwriting and never got the credit he deserved. But if that was the case, surely the Bowie we see here would have gone along and been seen to be magnanimous? Too often, ugly scenes with others are put down to his overzealous "management team", like the debacle on the Bolan show. In fact, this occurs in several anecdotes over several years. It's a bit of a shorthand, possibly, to lessen his responsibility where these less-than-noble acts go down. They're not as gruesome as Peter Grant's toecutting with Zeppelin, obviously, but occasionally heavy-handed nonetheless. The other issue is the fact that he seemed to stop having roles or personae to offer up after having been so clear about what he wanted up until Let's Dance. The next 2 albums Tonight and Never Let Me Down were incredibly dispiriting, but the weird part was that he didn't really react to them (okay, Tin Machine was something of a reaction, but really more of an abdication of his perceived role at the forefront of rock's evolution, rather like John Lennon's Some Time in New York City). Was it because he met Iman around this time? There are no more kiss-and-tells after that, and God knows there were plenty before that. Did he just find true love and settle down? But then, 1. Outside is not the work of an artist giving it all up for domestic bliss… Nor are Heathen or The Next Day. These are the questions that still remain after Trynka pads out the post-Let's Dance years to posit a friendly, helpful, slightly narcissistic, incredibly curious and analytical chameleon in semi-retirement. It seems a bit too obvious, and The Next Day came roaring out of left field to suggest that this is indeed a rather shallow view. Undoubtedly Trynka will put out a revised edition to deal with this late career resurgence, but it's my gut feeling that there's rather more to this arc - whether Bowie's stepping back is due to choice or realisation or bliss - than is shown here. A bio that could have tried harder.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Scott Holstad

    Paul Trynka's biography of David Bowie is pretty good, and at 544 pages, not overly long as far as rock bios go. It still took me a long time to get through it, though, because I'm reading six other books at the same time. Slow going. This book has a lot of detail -- sometimes too much -- while also leaving out a lot of detail on things. I found it interesting to see what the author chose to focus on and what he chose to virtually ignore. There's the requisite growing up period of the young Davy Paul Trynka's biography of David Bowie is pretty good, and at 544 pages, not overly long as far as rock bios go. It still took me a long time to get through it, though, because I'm reading six other books at the same time. Slow going. This book has a lot of detail -- sometimes too much -- while also leaving out a lot of detail on things. I found it interesting to see what the author chose to focus on and what he chose to virtually ignore. There's the requisite growing up period of the young Davy Jones and all of the years he spends trying to become a rock star, spending some 12 years in the business before Ziggy happened for him. There's a lot of detail in this period, but it gives you some good background info into what made Bowie Bowie. There's a good bit to Ziggy, but less so to the Diamond Dogs era and his sudden change to Philly soul mid-way through his tour. There's a LOT of focus on his enormous coke use during the '70s. It's sad to realize he doesn't even remember doing some of the records he's most famous for. There's some mention of Angie, but a great deal less than in another bio I read last year (which was a terrible hatchet job which hurt my opinion of Bowie, and I resented the authors for it). When she finally seeks a divorce from Bowie, not much more is mentioned of her. There's a great deal about David's son, Zowie, and how he tries to raise him as a single parent who's a traveling rock star. That must have been hard on the kid. It's good to see he made it. (He's now a film director.) There's a lot of information on Bowie's years in Germany and I learned a lot I hadn't previously known. There's a lot of information on Bowie's acting, both stage and film, and I enjoyed reading about The Man Who Fell To Earth, one of my favorite cult classics, but there's virtually nothing written about 1986's Labyrinth, which was largely crucified by critics but still became a hit anyway, thanks in part to Jim Henson (of Muppets fame). There's also nothing mentioned about Bowie's role as Andy Warhol in Basquiat, which I thought was an excellent job of acting on his part. Never mentioned. But lots on stage performances. Odd. As mentioned, a lot of attention is paid to the '70s and the excellent records to appear during that decade, culminating with 1980's Scary Monsters, which some would argue is Bowie's last great record. (I think Let's Dance is, but it doesn't get good treatment in this book.) Trynka doesn't hold back, though, when he needs to, as he pans Tonight and most of the other post-Let's Dance albums. He does wax enthusiastic about some individual songs on these albums, and seems especially sad that 2003's Reality is Bowie's last album before dropping out of sight. (I wonder what he would think about the brand new Bowie album. He must be overjoyed.) One of the things that bothered me about this book, though, is that the author could have gotten deeper into some of Bowie's influences and friendships and relationships, but instead you get every single detail of his recording process, the music business in general, and his collaborators. There's also too much attention paid to Iggy Pop, probably because the author wrote a book on him and is trying to plug it. Too much Iggy Pop, sorry. As one Goodreads reviewer noted, "If you're wondering how to intersect Jacques Brel, Aleister Crowley, William Burroughs, Little Richard, Kansai Yamamoto, Jean Genet and the Weimar Republic -- don't spend too much time with Trynka's book. Because he's more interested in business contacts and contract signings, the mechanical levers to fame." Trynka mentions influences throughout the book, but instead focuses too much on the business end of things, to my distraction. There were some other problems with the book. As I've already mentioned, there's nothing written about some of his films, while too much is mentioned about some of his other acting gigs. What about the infamous, ground-breaking 1980 video for "Ashes To Ashes"? Not mentioned. Other videos are mentioned, but perhaps his most important one is not. What about the collaborations with Pat Metheny and Nine Inch Nails? Not mentioned. Queen, yes, but not Nine Inch Nails. Why? And this is one complaint I always have with rock bios -- why is the album art never covered??? The controversial Diamond Dogs cover art should have been discussed, but was never broached. Virtually nothing was said about his album covers. That's a shame. Still, at the end of the book, there's a fantastic discography section where every album is reviewed with some detail. The book is worth it for that alone, but also for the pictures, which really made it for me. I saw some photos that were just classic. Awesome. Is this a five star book? I don't think so. Too much is left unsaid. Too many other things are covered in excess. But I think it's a solid four star book. It's a pretty good rock bio, and I recommend it for Bowie fans and for music and biography fans in general.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    The best feeling in the world is to read a biography about some bloke you admire and discover despite occasional jerkish behavior, the bloke's not that bad. Heck, he may even be better than some folks you call friend. Reading this, I wanted to be David Bowie's buddy. I don't want to be an awestruck admirer (I'm not a fan: I refuse to get some of his sucky records because they suck and I don't own scraps of his Ziggy costumes); I want to be his bro. Show up at his door: "Hey David, let's get some The best feeling in the world is to read a biography about some bloke you admire and discover despite occasional jerkish behavior, the bloke's not that bad. Heck, he may even be better than some folks you call friend. Reading this, I wanted to be David Bowie's buddy. I don't want to be an awestruck admirer (I'm not a fan: I refuse to get some of his sucky records because they suck and I don't own scraps of his Ziggy costumes); I want to be his bro. Show up at his door: "Hey David, let's get some milkshakes!" "Right-o, Dan-Bee!" Like peas in a pod, striding up and down the avenue. I have Trynka's biography on Iggy Pop. I wanted to read that after listening to an interview on WNYC radio. But Iggy is intimidating. Too moody, and given to abrasive behavior. When Trynka popped up on WNYC talking about his Bowie-bio, I decided to take the bait. Early Bowie years are a bit slow and disorganized, but Trynka puts it together and guides the narrative forward. I would've quit (My LeCarre obsession keeps calling me), but by 200 or so pages, I had to get at least to the end of the 90s. Trynka's a solid, witty writer. A great guide and a decent rock critic (I agree with much of his assessment of Bowie's major albums listed at the end) who provides an even-handed presentation of Mr. Bowie. I'm sure if he reads this (and if Trynka's right about Bowie reading any copy written about him), he would find little to kvetch about. My one cavil about the discography: he culd've included singles and appearances and should have qualified it as "Representative and Major Albums"--whateva... after this, I'll give the roller-coaster of Iggy a go.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jim McDonnell

    Finished last weekend, and it was a good zippy read. The writing is good, concise for the most part although the author would benefit from tighter editing and proofing at times; also though on one level it's reassuring to have your own views on The Dame's career echoed (bit of a wet hippy start, let's ignore the mime, classic middle section, should have ended in a bizarre gardening accident no later than 'Scary Monsters'), but then again it would be good to have been shocked or surprised at time Finished last weekend, and it was a good zippy read. The writing is good, concise for the most part although the author would benefit from tighter editing and proofing at times; also though on one level it's reassuring to have your own views on The Dame's career echoed (bit of a wet hippy start, let's ignore the mime, classic middle section, should have ended in a bizarre gardening accident no later than 'Scary Monsters'), but then again it would be good to have been shocked or surprised at times. This book can veer towards hagiography occasionally. Still it's interesting how this book puts my experiences of Bowie and his albums in correct chronological order; not always the order I'd assumed. Recommended to any Bowie fan.

  11. 4 out of 5

    J.

    "Aliens are immortal; that was what fans continued to believe in the months that followed David's 2oo3 heart attack... " - Starman, Trynka Paul Trynka's history of David Bowie's climb to success is really very good if you're looking for a "definitive" look-- or a pretty comprehensive one, anyway-- at what comprised BowieCorp International and how it came to be. His insider-ish account of all the clawing, scratching and meowing that was required to put Bowie on the Stadium Tour map of the world is "Aliens are immortal; that was what fans continued to believe in the months that followed David's 2oo3 heart attack... " - Starman, Trynka Paul Trynka's history of David Bowie's climb to success is really very good if you're looking for a "definitive" look-- or a pretty comprehensive one, anyway-- at what comprised BowieCorp International and how it came to be. His insider-ish account of all the clawing, scratching and meowing that was required to put Bowie on the Stadium Tour map of the world is factpacked and interesting from a business perspective. Bowie himself was prone in mid-career (the cash/carry/loot-in-a-bag '80s) to statements that begged the question, or winked at it, anyway : "My ambition is to make music so incredibly uncompromised that I will have absolutely no audience left whatsoever-- and then I'll be able to spend the entire year on the island" {Mustique}. To be fair to Trynka, there was always a certain pop-culture savvy to Bowie's outlook, at least after his quickly-vaporized first album attempt (called "images - 1966 - 1967" in the US release) had amounted to nothing. Long before the single success of "Space Oddity", with Bowie's existential Major Tom paralleling the '69 moon shot, Bowie had internalized the artworld business model of Andy Warhol. Nothing wrong with raking in some ready cash whilst straddling the opposing shores of intellectual zeitgeist and public acclaim. But to be fair to the subject at hand, the story of BowieCorp ascendant, ambitions wildly achieved -- tells only an accountant's tale of the phenomenon here. This wasn't a hoola-hoop or a rubick's cube, a slayer of market definitions, but originally, anyway, a very insular poet, a futurist, a musician with a peculiar vision. An artist. If you're wondering how the younger Bowie took up the influences he did, if you're wondering how a Brixton lad ends up "slaying" Budokan audiences in Japan with a crosscultural, crossdressing alien-in-your-midst electric-alligator onslaught .... If you're wondering how to intersect Jacques Brel, Aleister Crowley, William Burroughs, Little Richard, Kansai Yamamoto, Jean Genet and the Weimar Republic-- don't spend too much time with Trynka's book. Because he's more interested in business contacts and contract signings, the mechanical levers to fame. Trynka generally tows the Accepted Critical Line when he's got to rate the recordings-- Hunky Dory is genius, Tonight is crap-- which doesn't distinguish his account of the actual body of work produced by Bowie. The plethora of interconnection in the work, the undercurrents and overlays are of little interest here. Occassionally something pops up, but then it's back to factoid and new ambitions to conquer the market. What he manages to save room for is the importance of Bowie's collaborators down through the years, Lindsay Kemp, Tony Zanetta, Angela Bowie, Tony Visconti, Hermione Farthingale, Ken Scott, Michael Garson, Messrs Woodmansey & Bolder, Carlos Alomar, Rick Wakeman, Ian Hunter, Freddie Burretti, Ava Cherry, Reeves Gabrels, Iggy Pop, Brian Eno and, at a perfect moment in time, one Mick Ronson, lead guitar player and arranger for the golden era ... Mick Ronson was born and raised in Hull, once a prosperous and confident Victorian city, but by the late sixties in a the grip of a long-term industrial decline... Local musician Keith Herd witnessed one of Ronson's tentative shows ... in 1967, after Herd set up a tiny recording studio in his living room, Mick turned up with his new band, the Rats, "and I couldn't believe how he'd come on ... heavy guitar -- using the amplifier and volume to get incredible sustain. It was the first time I'd ever heard it before." The four-minute-long piece tht the Rats constructed, "The Rise And Fall Of Bernie Gripplestone" was a Who-influenced mini opera, distinguished soley by Ronson's howling guitar. Although it had shades of Hendrix, Townshend, and Mick's principal guitar idol, Jeff Beck, Ronson's playing was already unique: concise, tough rhythm guitar one moment, wildly fluid lead the next ... Which janus-faced capabilities would come to suit, par excellence, the already bifurcated, electro-shocked-acoustica of the Bowie songbook, then in it's precocious infancy. Ronson's elliptical-trajectory solos launched the Bowie narrative into orbit (think Moonage Daydream) or grounded his octave-hopping alien with a vertiginous slide, a bent-note crescendo or a ratatat fretboard glissando. Largely unknown to even the core fan, Ronson was also responsible for the strings and arrangements of many of the most iconic Bowie moments ... the sonic spectacle of Life On Mars? is one example. Anyway, fans won't skip the Trynka book, but those with little interest in Contractual Obbligation will want to gloss over the business agenda. Is there a better DB bio out there ? Is there Life After Business ?

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lucie Jane Miller

    In "Starman", Paul Trynka paints a compelling portrait of David Bowie and shows his obvious love for the Dame with his impeccably researched facts and anecdotes that covers Bowie's many reinventions over his career and explores his personal life without being trashy and gossipy. The author interviewed many people close to Bowie from his boyhood to present day including personal insights from Mick Ronson. Included at the back is a definitive notes section and reviews of his albums. (I take issue In "Starman", Paul Trynka paints a compelling portrait of David Bowie and shows his obvious love for the Dame with his impeccably researched facts and anecdotes that covers Bowie's many reinventions over his career and explores his personal life without being trashy and gossipy. The author interviewed many people close to Bowie from his boyhood to present day including personal insights from Mick Ronson. Included at the back is a definitive notes section and reviews of his albums. (I take issue with his comments on the Earthling album- he gave it only two stars- it's a far greater work than he credits). This is a very well written biography and there was only a couple of things that were a tad disappointing- there was only one sentence mentioning Bowie's work on the film Labyrinth and not much about the other films he made, either. The author obviously knew a lot about his work with Iggy Pop and detailed their friendship/ working partnership at length but it would have been nice to hear a bit more of how he worked with Eno, Reznor, Arcade Fire and other artists. Recommended to any fan of Bowie, old or newcomer as it truly is a celebration of Bowie's brilliance and includes amusing tidbits that the reader may have not read elsewhere ( such as the part that made me giggle - "...David's indulgence of his new girlfriend was charming; especially at the more ludicrous moments, such as when Melissa persuaded him to wear a thong, which he wore a couple of times on the beach, affecting indifference to his bandmates' sniggers..")

  13. 4 out of 5

    Missy Vinson

    I'm a big Bowie fan, but I've never known much of his personal life, so I cannot compare the balance of this book with reality. It seems well-cited and full of references and personal interviews. It has a general tone of fairness, and the author seems to like and sympathize with Bowie, despite presenting some skepticism of Bowie's public persona. What I enjoyed most while reading this was a detailed focus on the production of many of my favorite albums. Listening to each recording after reading I'm a big Bowie fan, but I've never known much of his personal life, so I cannot compare the balance of this book with reality. It seems well-cited and full of references and personal interviews. It has a general tone of fairness, and the author seems to like and sympathize with Bowie, despite presenting some skepticism of Bowie's public persona. What I enjoyed most while reading this was a detailed focus on the production of many of my favorite albums. Listening to each recording after reading why and how it occurred gave them an entirely new sound - like hearing it for the first time. I'm now very interested in reading more rock era biographies!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Bob Mccow

    While I consider myself a big fan of David Bowie, I find reading about his career rather dull - at least until Low anyway. This book is written by a fan of his seventies work who barely tolerates everything else; this reflects most people's view of Bowie, but I find it alienating. I'm far more interested in the lunacy of the megastar and the Renaissance of the nineties. I also think this book is poorly written on a technical level, jumping about from quote to quote without a logical progression, While I consider myself a big fan of David Bowie, I find reading about his career rather dull - at least until Low anyway. This book is written by a fan of his seventies work who barely tolerates everything else; this reflects most people's view of Bowie, but I find it alienating. I'm far more interested in the lunacy of the megastar and the Renaissance of the nineties. I also think this book is poorly written on a technical level, jumping about from quote to quote without a logical progression, never mind a narrative. There's repetition of quotes and facts, indicating a lack of almost apparent care. Oh. And his eyes were blue, like a human's.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nick Guadagnino

    It's no secret that David Bowie is one of my idols. So, naturally, I knew I'd love David Bowie: Starman. I learned a lot about the man and found this book to be an easy, engaging read. But having said that, the author is clearly infatuated with Bowie, which sometimes clouds his objectivity. Listen, I love Bowie, but he could be a real dick. This book sometimes touches upon that side of the man, but usually paints him in a much more positive light. If it wasn't for this, I'd be giving the book a f It's no secret that David Bowie is one of my idols. So, naturally, I knew I'd love David Bowie: Starman. I learned a lot about the man and found this book to be an easy, engaging read. But having said that, the author is clearly infatuated with Bowie, which sometimes clouds his objectivity. Listen, I love Bowie, but he could be a real dick. This book sometimes touches upon that side of the man, but usually paints him in a much more positive light. If it wasn't for this, I'd be giving the book a five-star review. Check it out nonetheless. Just know that this book was published before the final chapter of Bowie's life (from The Next Day to Blackstar).

  16. 4 out of 5

    Brian Bess

    The restless chameleon of popular music I am always a bit wary of biographies that are written and published while the subject of the biography is still living. I read with the nagging frustration that “The story isn’t over. This is an incomplete biography.” With ‘David Bowie: Starman’, published in 2011, five years before Bowie died, Paul Trynka has written a very readable and comprehensive biography, written as Bowie was in semi-retirement, possibly permanent at the time the book was published. The restless chameleon of popular music I am always a bit wary of biographies that are written and published while the subject of the biography is still living. I read with the nagging frustration that “The story isn’t over. This is an incomplete biography.” With ‘David Bowie: Starman’, published in 2011, five years before Bowie died, Paul Trynka has written a very readable and comprehensive biography, written as Bowie was in semi-retirement, possibly permanent at the time the book was published. Competent biographies merely state the basic facts of a person’s life with some opinion and personal assessment thrown in. Great biographies not only hit all the highlights but are beautifully written and provide a broad view of the person’s significance in history. Trynka’s ‘Starman’ is in the very good camp. It touches on all the major episodes of Bowie’s life, has a flowing writing style, and provides a very balanced view of Bowie as a person as well as a fairly objective assessment of his music. I can easily imagine Trynka writing an afterward for a new edition of his biography, adding the details of Bowie’s last five years as a final chapter. With a nurturing father and an emotionally cold mother and a significantly older half-brother and half-sister, young David Jones was raised almost like an only child in the Brixton area of South London. He was drawn to art as well as music and was a voracious reader, soaking up culture like a sponge. In his teens he sought musical and social circles and blended in wherever he wanted to belong, appealing to girls as well as boys, although he identified mostly as heterosexual. He was a member of various early rock’n’roll bands such as the King Bees and the Mannish Boys, where he quickly asserted himself as a lead singer and front man. His most prominent early musical hero was the androgynous Little Richard. At one point he thought of becoming a Buddhist monk. He also studied with Lindsey Kemp’s mime troupe. Trynka points out that David was not a “born” songwriter but had to work at it with relentless dedication to improve his craft. He was fortunate to get a record contract with Decca and, at nineteen, he began recording an album that was heavily augmented by orchestration. Aside from Little Richard, he also loved Anthony Newley and imitated his vocal stylings in this early phase of his career. He would adopt musical and fashion styles quickly. This habit would continue at a slightly slower rate throughout the rest of his career. During the Summer of Love, he was still imitating Anthony Newley. By the next year, he was a tousle-headed hippie: ‘Over these months, acquaintances noticed traits that would become characteristic of the twenty-something David Bowie: the way he’d earnestly quiz people to find out how they ticked; how he’d search out allies and file them in his mental Rolodex for future use without mentioning them to his current friends…as one friend, musician and International Times writer Mick Farren, puts it, “You got the feeling he didn’t want to show his cards—because he didn’t have many to begin with.”’ David met Angela Barnett through their mutual lover, promotions man Calvin Lee. Angie was as much of an opportunist as David and was just as theatrical as him. She would exert a major influence over David’s campaigns of self-promotion over the first four or five years of his career and they would join their fates in marriage by the time of his second album, ‘Space Oddity’. Their son, Zowie, (now known as the film director Duncan Jones) was born the next year and raised by a nanny more or less while Angie encouraged David with his bisexual image, followed by the outrageous makeup and costumes and including the alter ego of Ziggy Stardust. Eventually Angie’s drama queen antics grew more bothersome and their marriage became one in name only, then finally that was gone. They had always pursued other affairs before and after they were married but Angie had emphasized her ‘spouse of the superstar’ status throughout all of their extramarital relationships. Trynka provides a comprehensive depiction of Bowie’s musical evolution, focusing on definitive songs. ‘Space Oddity’ was a very promising album most notable for its title track, which Trynka regards as Bowie’s first great song, the one that first presented him as a new, significant talent to contend with. The follow-up album, ‘The Man Who Sold the World’, was a significant step up and the first on which Bowie played with perhaps his most significant collaborator, Mick Ronson. The template for the Ziggy Stardust/Spiders from Mars musical identity was first presented on this album. Bowie’s androgynous image was also announced by the jacket cover, in which his hair flows in long blond locks as he reclines across a couch in a full-length dress. “Changes”, the opening track of Bowie’s next album, ‘Hunky Dory’, came to be another iconic number whose lyrics could be taken as his musical credo. Trynka overemphasizes a slight resemblance between “Starman” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. The sentiment of the songs may be similar but there’s little actual musical kinship. “Starman” and the rest of the ‘Ziggy Stardust’ album plays with the idea of the rock’n’roll star as a savior, or “leper messiah”, as the title track refers to him. While touring with his band, the Spiders from Mars, promoting this album, Bowie himself acquired many of the characteristics of this fictional star. The excesses, while typical of the touring rock star lifestyle, did Bowie’s own peace of mind no favors. At the peak of his popularity with this incarnation, he decided to break up this band at the end of their tour and never perform with them again. Bowie was continually switching gears. In the middle of a very expensive, stage set-laden tour promoting ‘Diamond Dogs’ he abruptly changed his emphasis to R&B, which led to his next album, ‘Young Americans’. As his hit song “Fame”, a collaboration with one of his heroes, John Lennon, was still on the airwaves, he changed again to embrace electronic experimentation, incorporating the influences of the German band Kraftwerk and Roxy Music veteran Brian Eno’s experimental ambient music. This first became apparent with his next album, ‘Station to Station’, then with his ‘Berlin trilogy’ (‘Low’, ‘Heroes”, ‘Lodger’), although only ‘Heroes’ was recorded completely in Berlin. His record company, RCA, was not tremendously happy with these non-commercial stylistic zig-zags but went along with him. Throughout these years, cocaine was an almost constant companion and probably influenced the direction of his music as powerfully as the Beatles’ use of LSD influenced ‘Revolver’ and ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’. Trynka presents a very balanced portrait of the character of David Bowie. Although he was undeniably opportunistic and used people to achieve his artistic aims, he was not intentionally cruel and he did many things for people out of kindness. A prime example is his friend, Iggy Pop, whose excesses and addictions were far more self-destructive than Bowie’s. During his Berlin years, Bowie also produced and contributed songs to two of Iggy’s most favorably received albums, ‘The Idiot’ and ‘Lust for Life’. All of this occurred while Bowie was also writing and recording his own albums. Trynka gives almost equal space and attention to Bowie’s last few decades, following his hugely profitable mega-tours through the MTV era of “Let’s Dance” and “China Girl”, and his early embrace of the Internet for marketing purposes. As Bowie aged, he seemed to want to settle down with a happy family life which he presumably found with his second wife, model Iman, and their daughter. In the early 2000’s, the heavy touring schedule resulted in a heart attack, which effectively slowed his career to a halt and limited it to very select public appearances on stage and film. Despite his subject’s reluctance to discuss his private life, Paul Trynka has written a very through biography that achieves a near perfect balance between Bowie’s personal life and his career. He also provides a discography with capsule reviews of each album. It is far more readable than the other biography I’ve read of Bowie, David Buckley’s turgid ‘Strange Fascination’. I’m sure there is plenty more to say about this multi-faceted character but for anyone who wants to learn more about David Bowie’s life and career and acquire a basic understanding of the motivating forces of this highly creative, influential, and bold figure. ‘David Bowie: Starman’ is as good a place as any to begin.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Rod Horncastle

    I've mostly ignored David Bowie over the last 40 years. I managed to buy one of his Tin Machine cassettes 20 years ago... and a live Tin Machine C.D.. I bought it for the band - not the singer. So I thought I would tackle this Freakin' Huge biography (532 pages), just so I could read about the few guitar players of his I enjoy: They are Mick Ronson, Earl Slick, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Reeves Gabriel (on occasion?), and Peter Frampton (Robert Fripp did some crap with him too, as did Adrian Belew). Wi I've mostly ignored David Bowie over the last 40 years. I managed to buy one of his Tin Machine cassettes 20 years ago... and a live Tin Machine C.D.. I bought it for the band - not the singer. So I thought I would tackle this Freakin' Huge biography (532 pages), just so I could read about the few guitar players of his I enjoy: They are Mick Ronson, Earl Slick, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Reeves Gabriel (on occasion?), and Peter Frampton (Robert Fripp did some crap with him too, as did Adrian Belew). Without a great guitar player: Bowie can be really annoying (I now blame Reeves Gabriel for some of that annoyance). I now know about Bowie's sex problems and endless Cocaine and cigarettes. Typical for a Rock Star. It shouldn't surprise anyone that he is now dead - he seemed to have lived much longer than he possibly deserved. (and yet somehow Keith Richards is still alive and kicking??? Hmmm) Bowie also had numerous bad falling outs with friends and lovers and managers and musicians and... Not my problem: that's what you get for toying with FAME. (great song by the way.) I must mention my favorite part of the book: Many years ago I bought the VHS cassette of the Glass Spider tour (with Frampton on guitar). I've watched that Rocky Horror Picture Show style concert many many times. I'm not sure why exactly - often it had horrendous 80's versions of some of his best songs (Suffragette City and Rebel Rebel, Jean Genie. If I recall correctly?). Anyway - the book says that after the tour they went out in the desert and lit the HUGE GLASS SPIDER (metal mostly? size of a building) on fire and watched it burn - never to be used again. Now that's funny. Like most music biographies: This book pretty much ignores the last 15 years of his life. Oh well. He seems to be happily married and has 2 functional children. Well done David. There was a few religious snippets throughout this tale: A funny bit where Bowie's band almost all became Scientologists. Very amusing indeed. Later (in the Tin Machine days) he had a Christian and non-christian brother duo, Occasionally they often killed each other. Bowie did the typical rockstar thing and toyed a fair bit with Buddhism (YES, you can do whatever the hell you want and still claim to be a dedicated Buddhist). AS educated as Bowie pretended to be: He never gets above "beginner theologian" of comparative world religions. HE probably knows the truth right about now. Too little too late Mr. Ziggy. Thanks for the cool tunes. I spent 2 days watching Bowie concerts and video's on youtube. That was fun: There's a great 2000 BBC concert with Earl Slick on guitar - totally awesome (great sound). Bowie is at his best. Then I dared to watch the Live Aid Bowie moment: EEEEeeeek! What the crap? Then I watched some Glass Spiders Tour (amusing), and a live by request evening (not bad). THEN - I watched some horrendous noise insanity garbage (Scary Monsters stuff 1997?) with Reeves Gabriel on guitar. I take back anything good I might have said or thought about Reeves: this was painful to tolerate - hard to even call it music: maybe i'm just old. Now I need to go and listen to more Mick Ronson. That was a cool period for Bowie.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Emi Bevacqua

    Breathlessly obsessive presentation of how incredible David Bowie's each and every hairdo, stage outfit, and recorded conversation is and ever was. I'm a fan of the Thin White Duke's (this book was given to me as a gift) but this was 479 long and tedious pages; from birth in 1947 through to 2010. As the book ends, Bowie is dedicated to raising his daughter with Iman, and author Paul Trynka presumably cries every day there remains no next new David Bowie album. To be fair, it was interesting to r Breathlessly obsessive presentation of how incredible David Bowie's each and every hairdo, stage outfit, and recorded conversation is and ever was. I'm a fan of the Thin White Duke's (this book was given to me as a gift) but this was 479 long and tedious pages; from birth in 1947 through to 2010. As the book ends, Bowie is dedicated to raising his daughter with Iman, and author Paul Trynka presumably cries every day there remains no next new David Bowie album. To be fair, it was interesting to read details surrounding the making of Bowie albums I personally played to death in my youth. But for all the other myriad recordings (the guy was freaking prolific!) it was slow-going. Of course, if you're addicted to all things David Bowie, this book is 5 Stars to you. I found Trynka a bit over-indulgent with the high praise, he makes it sound as though Bowie knows more than any authoritative expert on subjects ranging from the future, to nazism, to art, etc. But then he goes and substantiates a claim in relation to Bowie's expertise on the internet by describing the hours Bowie spends on sites like eBay! and Google!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jean

    Paul Trynka's depiction of the untouchable Starman is the most compelling so far - behind the glamourous, chameleon-like visage was an insatiable music fan with a thirst for culture and art. Trynka also succeeds in painting a poignantly human portrait, while not glossing over him as people would usually do, as he casually reminds us of Bowie's forgettable musical output during the early 60s and the late 80s to the 90s. He also brings his equally fanboy knowledge of Bowie to the forefront in disc Paul Trynka's depiction of the untouchable Starman is the most compelling so far - behind the glamourous, chameleon-like visage was an insatiable music fan with a thirst for culture and art. Trynka also succeeds in painting a poignantly human portrait, while not glossing over him as people would usually do, as he casually reminds us of Bowie's forgettable musical output during the early 60s and the late 80s to the 90s. He also brings his equally fanboy knowledge of Bowie to the forefront in discussing Bowie's interesting relationships with his session musicians and his sprawling body of work. This is a must-read for the serious fans, be it Bowie's or music, and also for anyone starting out with Bowie's music which can be tough to work through due to his rabbit-hopping through different genres of music (the last part of the book contains very useful reviews of his entire discography).

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    A very, very in-depth account of one of the most brilliant and iconic artists of the last 50 years. Trynka was a little too harsh on Bowie's early years, and a little too easy on his later commercial years. I wish the book would have delved deeper into his personal influences and relationships - it was a tantalizingly close yet ultimately unrevealing look at the man himself. But boy howdy do you get every single detail of his recording process and musical collaborators. This book is for giant Bo A very, very in-depth account of one of the most brilliant and iconic artists of the last 50 years. Trynka was a little too harsh on Bowie's early years, and a little too easy on his later commercial years. I wish the book would have delved deeper into his personal influences and relationships - it was a tantalizingly close yet ultimately unrevealing look at the man himself. But boy howdy do you get every single detail of his recording process and musical collaborators. This book is for giant Bowie fans who are looking to understand more about his music, but we're also going to be the most frustrated by the book's arm's-length insight into his life.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Carrie

    Good book, however it lost one star because he only gives one single sentence - in parenthesis! - to the movie Labyrinth and never breathes a word about the album, not even in the discography in the back. A very glaring omission considering it was a gateway for another generation of Bowie fans. The epilogue is well written - realistic, but still allows for a small glimmer of hope for more to come.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    My friend had a week left before this was due - so I only managed the first quarter of the biog - loved learning of his early days of one-track-minded ambition with more charm and charisma than skill in not-so-easy East End London. I'd no idea he was in so many small blues/R&B cover bands. Will get back to this once it comes around on my library hold list. My friend had a week left before this was due - so I only managed the first quarter of the biog - loved learning of his early days of one-track-minded ambition with more charm and charisma than skill in not-so-easy East End London. I'd no idea he was in so many small blues/R&B cover bands. Will get back to this once it comes around on my library hold list.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kristjan Karmo

    For me, this was an extremely slow book to read. I don't mean it didn't flow -- it's just that with every album, every song mentioned, I kept wanting to listen and analyze. However, I did feel that some periods (or records) were almost skipped over. For me, this was an extremely slow book to read. I don't mean it didn't flow -- it's just that with every album, every song mentioned, I kept wanting to listen and analyze. However, I did feel that some periods (or records) were almost skipped over.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    You don't get them more detailed or complete than this. You don't get them more detailed or complete than this.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    Despite giving this book five stars, it's not perfect. But then, what book is? We'll call it 4.5. I would have liked to hear more about how the music was made, but that's just me. What the author was doing, was painting a portrait of Bowie. If he'd written much that did not help you understand who Bowie was, that would have been a shortcoming. In my opinion, at over 500 pages, the book was long enough and it didn't need more extraneous anecdotes and stories. There were a couple of passages that d Despite giving this book five stars, it's not perfect. But then, what book is? We'll call it 4.5. I would have liked to hear more about how the music was made, but that's just me. What the author was doing, was painting a portrait of Bowie. If he'd written much that did not help you understand who Bowie was, that would have been a shortcoming. In my opinion, at over 500 pages, the book was long enough and it didn't need more extraneous anecdotes and stories. There were a couple of passages that discussed Bowie's acting, how he got involved, and people's reactions to it. So would the inclusion of stories about Labyrinth have helped our understanding of who he was? The one thing that really seemed to be missing was anything about his early collaboration with Iggy. I'm not sure if that's because Trynka had already written about it in detail in another book, and assumed everyone has already read it? Trynka appears to have interviewed dozens of people. In that respect, it seems exhaustive. It glossed over a couple of album/periods quickly, but I'm not sure it really missed anything completely. Bowie seems a jerk, but also seems pretty awesome. Did someone really call this a biased book?

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Warne

    This biography of David Bowie has an exhaustive level of detail. It meant that certain points of the book drag with too much detail, while other periods feel almost glossed over. Despite that, it's impressive. In some ways, this book is like a history of the last 50 years of music, or at least the parts that Bowie had some kind of involvement, which is pretty extensive. Dozens (if not more) of musicians from the 60s onward shift in and out, some more than once, most notably Iggy Pop. This book i This biography of David Bowie has an exhaustive level of detail. It meant that certain points of the book drag with too much detail, while other periods feel almost glossed over. Despite that, it's impressive. In some ways, this book is like a history of the last 50 years of music, or at least the parts that Bowie had some kind of involvement, which is pretty extensive. Dozens (if not more) of musicians from the 60s onward shift in and out, some more than once, most notably Iggy Pop. This book is Bowie, warts and all. At times he appears manipulative and wreckless. At other times, he's supportive and focused. The author isn't shy about criticizing Bowie's failures (the 1980s, after Let's Dance, stands out a moment that temporarily sold out). But overall, there's so much admiration for him as an artist. I was tempted to give only three stars, but this book has inspired me to go back into Bowie's discography and re-listen to a lot of periods that I never paid much attention to, and all of the other artists around him as well, from Marc Bolan to Kraftwerk. As I write this, I'm listening to Bowie's Buddha of Suburbia, which I never got into before, and finding a new appreciation for it.

  27. 4 out of 5

    OwlWing

    The focus of this book really is on Bowie's life, as opposed to his music/art. For me this was a disappointment as I am always looking for further insight into Bowie's music and art alongside information on the man himself (you'd think they'd go hand in hand, wouldn't you?). Here, it felt like the music really took a back seat and was, at times, almost forgotten. I bought this book on the strength that the author did loads of original research and that the majority of quotations are from exclusiv The focus of this book really is on Bowie's life, as opposed to his music/art. For me this was a disappointment as I am always looking for further insight into Bowie's music and art alongside information on the man himself (you'd think they'd go hand in hand, wouldn't you?). Here, it felt like the music really took a back seat and was, at times, almost forgotten. I bought this book on the strength that the author did loads of original research and that the majority of quotations are from exclusive interviews with people who knew Bowie to some degree at one or more periods in time. There are a LOT of contributors to this book, but only a handful said something that was interesting to me. As an already well-informed Bowiephile, there was little here that was new to me other than the vast list of names. This book would probably be quite good for people new to Bowie, as you don't need to be familiar with the music at all. At the end of the book is even a list of reviews (each a very brief summary) for each Bowie album up to 2003's Reality. For the seasoned Bowie fan these reviews are a bit of a yawn.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    It was like every time something negative was said or implied about bowie, there would be a quick follow up sentence stating something to the effect of "but he wasn't how that just sounded". Very strange. Definitely see him as more than a random famous dude now. I really only know his singles, but it was neat to hear them playing in my head as I read about how they came to be. Kind of neat to see all the connections he had with other people who later became well known celebrities. Interesting tha It was like every time something negative was said or implied about bowie, there would be a quick follow up sentence stating something to the effect of "but he wasn't how that just sounded". Very strange. Definitely see him as more than a random famous dude now. I really only know his singles, but it was neat to hear them playing in my head as I read about how they came to be. Kind of neat to see all the connections he had with other people who later became well known celebrities. Interesting that some of them knew one another when they were all just starting out. Good book, a little drawn out. I found some paragraphs talking more about the marketing and albums and less about the Bowie and his feelings or thoughts. Made me want to start skimming but I hung in there.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Peter O'Connor

    So interesting was the life of David Bowie that this thing should have just about written itself. Trynka, former editor of the excellent Mojo music magazine, clearly knows his subject, all of the major players and all of the key moments making this as definitive a biography as I can imagine. Chronological as expected, the biography moves along at a steady clip as there is so much to cover from his childhood right through to surely one of the most carefully measured, dignified rock and roll death So interesting was the life of David Bowie that this thing should have just about written itself. Trynka, former editor of the excellent Mojo music magazine, clearly knows his subject, all of the major players and all of the key moments making this as definitive a biography as I can imagine. Chronological as expected, the biography moves along at a steady clip as there is so much to cover from his childhood right through to surely one of the most carefully measured, dignified rock and roll deaths of all time. Great subjects make for great books and whether you are a fan or just have a casual interest in the man, this tells the whole story in finely researched detail without stripping away any of the mystique which made Bowie such an icon in the first place.

  30. 5 out of 5

    TaxusNocturnus aka Tisa Vizek Borovina

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. An interesting glimpse in the life of one of the most intriguing and progressive musicions, actors and artists of the 20'th century. A man of contradictions, drive and sensibility. At times seeming cold, reserved and calculated, at times supportive, sensible, compassionate...He was inspired, futuristic, driven, focused. A true legend and so human with his weaknesses. Underappreciated and underestimated and praised almost at the same time. His vision lives on - and he is greatly missed. Ps. It woul An interesting glimpse in the life of one of the most intriguing and progressive musicions, actors and artists of the 20'th century. A man of contradictions, drive and sensibility. At times seeming cold, reserved and calculated, at times supportive, sensible, compassionate...He was inspired, futuristic, driven, focused. A true legend and so human with his weaknesses. Underappreciated and underestimated and praised almost at the same time. His vision lives on - and he is greatly missed. Ps. It would be 5 stars if making of Labyrinth was mentioned more than in an one sentence, and at times the text was a bit dry and tiring. Nonetheless, a great biography.

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