12 facts about David Bowie

Bowie in costume during the Aladdin Sane tour, 1973.
Masayoshi Sukita

Bowie in costume during the Aladdin Sane tour, 1973.

1. His chosen name references the bowie knife, named after Jim Bowie – an American frontiersman and adventurer.

2. His first LP, David Bowie, was released on the same day as Sgt. Pepper's, on June 1, 1967. In stark contrast to the Beatles album, Bowie's was not a commercial success. Looking back, he saw that as a positive: "In a way, if anything had happened for me in the mid-'60s, I mighty well have been cut off from an awful lot of influences."

3. Bowie started playing sax as a teenager, at secondary school.

4. His children are Duncan Jones – once Zowie, born 1971 – and Alexandria "Lexi" Zahra Jones, who was born in 2000.

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5. Always ahead of the curve, he formed the first artist created internet service provider, Bowienet, in 1998.

6. The Elephant Man, with Bowie in the title role, was a hit on Broadway in 1980.

7. Theories abound about Bowie's eyes. Many say it was a playground fight at school that led to them being different colours - his eye was scratched with a fingernail (or stabbed with a compass in some versions), which caused a paralysed pupil. Others say he has a condition known as heterochromia, which enlarges one of the pupils.

8. He married model Iman in Florence in 1992. They met on a blind date arranged by a mutual friend.

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9. His 50th birthday party was widely televised; his son was one of the camera crew.

10. A heart attack put paid to Bowie's plans to tour the world in 2004.

11. John Lennon co-wrote Fame with Bowie and Carlos Alomar.

12. The recent film Bandslam finishes with Bowie ringing up a kid he discovered on the internet and saying he wants to produce his music.

 - SMH

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