David Bowie: Starman
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David Bowie: Starman

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  477 ratings  ·  59 reviews
"Ziggy Stardust," "Changes," Under Pressure," "Let's Dance," "Fame," "Heroes," and of course, "Starman." These are the classic songs of David Bowie, the artist whose personas are indelibly etched in our pop consciousness alongside his music. He wrote and recorded with everyone from Iggy Pop to Freddie Mercury to John Lennon, sold 136 million albums, has one of the truly gr...more
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Published July 18th 2011 by Little, Brown and Company (first published March 1st 2011)
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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,...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
J.
Sep 10, 2011 J. rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: glam accountants
"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...more
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.
Johnny Jellyspoon
As someone who likes Bowie's music, but has never read a biography of him, I enjoyed this book. The author kept the pace going and revealed enough of the subject without going into obsessive detail of the sort that only fanatics would want to read. The biography seems balanced, and has enough interesting facts and info to keep any casual Bowie fan entertained.
Also, it gives some insight into the creative process, and the key roles played by Bowies numerous collaborators, such as Mick Ronson or...more
Anamarija
Činjenice, činjenice, činjenice i činjenice.To je ono što donosi ova knjiga. Ali među činjenicama ima taman toliko emocija, koje objašnjavaju koliki je genije Bowie.
Caroline
You don't get them more detailed or complete than this.
Dr. Detroit
I think - scotch that: I KNOW - I've reached critical mass with muso biographies and autobiographies.

Despite his cred as glam rock royalty, the backdrop to David Bowie's time on this mortal coil is actually quite dull, but the girls I went to high school with probably wouldn't want to hear about it, several of whom undoubtedly still carry a torch for both him AND Bryan Ferry. The six-night stand old carrot-top pulled off at the Michigan Palace back in 1974 is still the stuff of legend around th...more
Larelle
I did learn one thing new from this book (something which I'd wondered about for a long time), the significance of the cross that Bowie wore/wears around his neck.

Other than that I felt I got more out of other Bowie biographies, including Alias David Bowie by Peter and Leni Gillman (on Bowie's background and personal life) and Bowie: Loving the Alien by Christopher Sandford, during the MainMan years of his career.

This book seemed to focus quite a bit of Bowie's very early career (pre-solo work...more
Carol
Despite a wobbly beginning that trotted out tired lines about musician David Bowie's changes and masks and role-playing ("So was David Bowie truly a showbiz pro exploiting outsiders, like a psychic vampire? Was he really a starman, or was it all cheap music-hall tinsel and glitter?") I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants a great introduction to Bowie. I have read pretty much everything that has been published on Bowie in book form, and some of the details here were new to me. Of cour...more
Mark Field
Ok... I liked and disliked this book in equal parts. So Trynka is a Bowie obsessive and left no sequin or costume change unturned and he is to be credited for the phenomenal amount of detail in the book but my beef lies with the sycophantic way he portrays Bowie. Bowie is not perfect, actually its his faults that make him such a important figure in the history of modern music, Trynka "name checks" these faults - namely Bowie's megloamnia, his ruthless pursuit of his singular goal of fame and the...more
Casey
You will see all that is great about this book upon reading it, so I will mention the parts that annoyed me first and foremost.
This book left out a lot of information that I subsequently had to glean from "The Complete David Bowie" by Nicholas Pegg (which is an AWESOME book, by the way). As a child of the 80s, I was hoping to hear new information and back-stories from the Labyrinth filming. There was essentially ZERO information on the film, and the film's title was only mentioned (in passing,...more
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...more
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...more
Jeffrey
I received this book for free in a Goodreads First Reads giveaway.

Paul Trynka's analysis of David Bowie's life and career reads much the same as his subject. It's a little murky to begin with, bursts into brilliance as Bowie's star rises, bloats as Bowie begins capitalizing on his success, and then fades with disinterest as Bowie wanders off into his own semi-retirement.

It's not fair of me to write that. It's actually a very good book, well researched and complete with a full analytical discogra...more
Myke
Got through this pretty quickly,mainly because i skipped quite a bit of the first 200 or so pages. The reason for this is that because i'm not a big fan of Bowie's early years or even his glam rock period (shock horror i know).

My interest in Bowie begins with Young Americans and pretty much ends at Scary Monsters, although i have enjoyed more recent albums such as Heathen and The Next Day. With this in mind it could be argued that reading this was a mistake, however i wouldn't recommend this to...more
Paul J
An interesting examination of the career of David Bowie, with a lot of insight and interviews with the collaborators that contributed so much to his career. What more can you ask from a rock biography? Each stage of Bowie's career is covered in meticulous detail, frequently littered with anecdotes that run the gamut from amusing to heart breaking and everything in between. And there isn't too much hero-worship or rose-tint from the author. You could find a lot to like even if you're not a huge B...more
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...more
J.
Excellently written, and with a fantastic disc by disc review at the end. I have to admit, I was a little confused by the sudden shift at about the 300 page mark. Early Bowie is described as fairly ruthless in his use and discard of musicians, but then Trynka goes on to defend Bowie against that very critique. There was, at times, too much emphasis on Iggy Pop's life, as well (understandable, though, given Trynka's role as Iggy biographer in an earlier book). Suffers from the same problem many o...more
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...more
Russ
well worth a read if you're into Bowie or even just a bit interested. IT doesn't shy away from the controversies in Bowie's life, & is generally sympathetic but doesn't whitewash things, such as his relations with his son, his family & other artists such as Iggy Pop & Mick Ronson.
Karen Braid
I enjoyed it very much. Bowie is an extremely complex man, which I suppose you can expect as he is somewhat of a musical genius. I am a fan, but didn't realise the vast volume of works he has written for himself and others over the years. He is a like him/ loathe him personality which sometimes made for a difficult read. Trynka has produced a very detailed offering, and sometimes you get a little irritated with this, but its worth seeing through to the end.
Hal
I found myself swinging back and forth between likely this bio and not. Exceedingly long it at times got tedious as it dwelt on the complexities of recording deals.

On the other hand it was interspersed at times with what was going on in the man's head which was a bit more interesting.

The conclusion dropped off rather abruptly without going into much of what Bowie is doing now with his life as if the author had reached his quota of 500 pages, the end.
James
I think this is one of the best biographies on Bowie out there. It is well researched, with notes and information where Trynka got his info- mostly from friends and co-workers of Bowie. Bowie did not contribute to this book, as far as I can tell. And, he doesn't fall into most of the traps that people do when writing about Bowie. Very well written and much more even than most of the other books on the subject.
Ken
A completely enjoyable and comprehensive book about an artist who is not only a consummate musician, but a performer who has been able to blend and incorporate 'all that is Art' into his music.

Indispensable for fans of his music, and the book also provides a penetrating insight as to how this artist was able to remain on the cutting edge of popular consciousness for better than forty years.
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.
Mellisande
Jan 02, 2012 Mellisande rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Music fans
This was at times a depressing read. I am a major fan of David Bowie's music, mainly his work from the seventies and to find out that he doesn't even remember making some of my favourite albums was disappointing. This fact did not deter from a great piece of work that Paul Trynka wrote and I definitely suggest it to people who would love to know more about Bowie.
Amanda Heideman
I haven't read a biography in awhile and there's probably a reason for that. Overall, this was an interesting enough read, but I'm used to a reading cohesive stories and this is much more anecdotal. Fans of a variety of music from the second half of the 20th century or of David Bowie will probably find this a quality read.
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Paul Trynka was formerly the editor of Mojo magazine (1996-2003). He has also been the editorial director of Q magazine, launch editor of The Guitar Magazine, and editor-in-chief of New Projects at Emap. He is the author of Iggy Pop (Broadway 2007), Portrait of the Blues, and Denim, a history of the fabric. He lives in London.
More about Paul Trynka...
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