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Bowie: A Biography

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  1,252 ratings  ·  138 reviews
Finally an expansive biography of one of the twentieth century’s greatest music and cultural icons

From noted author and rock ’n’ roll journalist Marc Spitz comes a major David Bowie biography to rival any other. Following Bowie’s life from his start as David Jones, an R & B—loving kid from Bromley, England, to his rise to rock ’n’ roll aristocracy as David Bowie, Bowie re
Hardcover, 429 pages
Published October 27th 2009 by Crown Archetype (first published January 1st 2009)
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Average rating 3.75  · 
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 ·  1,252 ratings  ·  138 reviews

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Scott Rhee
Mar 23, 2013 rated it really liked it

David Bowie, the legend and the man, died this year, 2016. The vacuum left by his passing is felt profoundly by his fans. I originally read this book and reviewed it in 2013. As I sit and edit it, Bowie's beautiful final album, "Blackstar" is playing in the background...

The first vinyl records (Remember those? Big, round, black, shiny disks with tiny grooves that played music when you put in on a turntable and dropped the needle down? I know, I love them, too...) I ever bought were Journey's "Es
Dec 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Do we need another biography on David Bowie? Well, frankly yes! There is one other great biography on Bowie by David Buckley called "Strange Fascination." That one is good because Buckley went out of the way to interview all of Bowie's past and present musicians.

What is totally fab about Marc Spitz's biography is his research on the early teenage and career years of David. He also tracked down Bowie's first major manager and supporter Kenneth Pitt, who gives great insight in the world of 'gay' m
Mart Allard
Oct 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I have been waiting for this book for months, and to be fair, I have to admitt that I'm listening to Bowie as I write this. If you're looking for it in the stores, it's important to note that it's no longer called "God and Man," which is, of course a quote from the song "Modern Love", but just "Bowie".

I'm beginning to love this book, and I don't often love books about David Bowie. He's intensely private, and has never authorized a bio, so they are usually very dry and informative, as Nicholas Pe
As compelling as Bowie is, this biography is not. It's more of a summation of interviews and speculation on Bowie, with occasional testimony from the very few people the author seemed to talk to. Writing wise, it's very "essay-like", with far too much personal input from the author and the phrase "One can imainge..." used excessively. So much of this bio is completely redundant as well (I do not need to know the life and childhood of David Bowie's roommate for half a year in 1968, thanks). Actua ...more
Katie Glanz
Dec 01, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Any hardcore Bowie fan
Recommended to Katie by: My Daddy!
Shelves: music
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Donna Lyn
May 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
I'm changing my review of this book. I stayed up way too late for too many nights reading this book but I could not put it down. Marc Spitz did an amazing job writing this book, I can't imagine the work he put into it. It is very detailed. I think the reason I was so compelled was because Bowie's rise to stardom was during my childhood and Bowie's music was played loud and often in my father's house (as was Pink Floyd and the Eagles). I was completely taken by Bowie back then and even today as I ...more
John Tessitore
Feb 11, 2016 rated it liked it
Marc Spitz is a critic, and critics are not the best biographers.

Critics force themselves into opinions--personal opinions--that history can't always support. That's their job. But that's not a biographer's job.

Despite this mismatch, Spitz does a very good job early in this biography of providing historical context for Bowie-related phenomena, moments of creativity that, even at their inception, seemed to emerge from nothing at all. Ziggy Stardust is only the most famous of these phenomena.

Jan 19, 2010 rated it did not like it
i thought this book would be more interesting -- it's BOWIE, man. ...more
Malcolm Frawley
Jul 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
This is not the first Bowie biog I have read, & it won't be the last (Paul Morley's The Age Of Bowie is in my to-read pile) but it is a compelling read for any fan, even those of us who already know a lot about the, in my opinion, 1 true genius of rock music. I loved Spitz's point of view. He is an unapologetic fan, though not a contemporary of Bowie, & his occasional brief interjections into his own life are both justified & illuminating. He has researched well with what appears to have been lo ...more
Jul 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
I put off writing this review for a while for two reasons: both the author and the subject are dead, and that wounds me painfully every time I sit at my keyboard to write this review. I've had some time to put distance between me and Bowie's death, and I've really had most of my lifetime to work out my on-again off-again fandom with Bowie. But I was in the early stages of my relationship with Spitz and he reminded me so much of a friend of mine from graduate school whom I had recently lost, so l ...more
Adam Cormier
Jul 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting recount of the life of David Bowie.
Jan 13, 2013 rated it it was ok
I was never a Bowie fan, but after finishing this book, I think I missed something. I followed the book with YouTube. As the songs were mentioned, I listened. The Dick Cavett Interview, the Bing Crosby Christmas special, the Ashes to Ashes video, the 1979 SNL (audio only), the prayer for Freddie Mercury -- all are priceless today, but in context of their time must have been striking. Bowie was far more than his punk/skinhead (or whatever the) image. He created a body of work ("Major Tom", Change ...more
May 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
If you ask anyone who knows me, I'm a huge David Bowie fan. I was browsing my local library and saw this book and just had to pick it up. The only Bowie biography I'd read was his ex-wife's book about their history together called Backstage Passes. It was a pretty good read with a lot of Bowie's history, but it was (obviously) very biased.

Marc Spitz's biography is an incredibly detailed story of David Bowie's life all the way from how his parents met up until his quiet life in the late 2000's.
Dave Schwensen
Jul 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
It’s very clear how much work the author put into researching this book. It seems he left no moon rock unturned or space capsule unexplored (thanks to Major Tom and Ziggy Stardust for the references). It wasn’t all smooth reading, but the parts that were – Bowie’s rise to fame and superstar status – seemed to breeze by at warp speed.

Bowie is interesting and confusing. It’s what sets him apart from other rock stars of his generation. The author met the challenge of finding him in this book. But a
Lisa Findley
Oct 21, 2010 rated it liked it
I liked it because I like Bowie, but I didn't learn much more than a Wikipedia scan would've told me. The biggest advantage Spitz has over other biographers is that he wrote his after theirs, so he has the '90s and '00s to include, but then he doesn't do much with that time period, either. He just says "I didn't know anything about Iman before this book, turns out she did some stuff" about Bowie's iconic supermodel wife, and "I sure wish he'd make some more albums" about Bowie's movement away fr ...more
Gregarious cline
Mar 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
A great linear look at Bowie's life up to 2003 when he "retired". A self professed fan, Spitz does a great job of keeping his own personality in the margins. A few intellectual suppositions (like how a theatrical costume shop across the street from his boyhood home could have triggered his flamboyance) can be forgiven as the research is flush with lots of input from those very close to Bowie and even those on the outer fringes (like M.Ward discussing his cover of "Let's Dance") add color and dim ...more
I didn't know anything about David Bowie, and now I know something about David Bowie.

I think I did an okay job of not annoying my husband with Daily Bowie Facts, but it wasn't a great job, because . . . well . . . David Bowie was David Bowie and I am who I am.

I can't really speak to the quality of the book, but I would call it a fairly readable survey that doesn't get too deep into anything before it rolls along the lengthy road of Bowie's career. The author injects little pieces of his life int
Stevie Dunbar
Jan 25, 2021 rated it liked it
Good, well researched, and I enjoyed Angie’s takes. Big emphasis on Bowie’s early life, from birth to Ziggy, to the point where everything post Station to Station is quickly brought up and passed. Nonetheless worth the read for the early years.

The author weirdly inserts himself and his own memories as a Bowie fan through short snippets in between chapters — I quickly skimmed or out right skipped those parts, though there aren’t too many.
Oct 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
Anything written about David Bowie is going to be amazing. I mean, face it, he is the sexiest, most awesomely awesome and talented human to ever live, ever. This biography digs deep into his psyche, and his past, revealing about as much as we're ever going to get from a self-proclaimed spaceman freaking out in a moonage daydream. ...more
Apr 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
A fascinating and comprehensive look at one of my long term idols. I loved enriching the story by pulling up clips of referenced interviews and performances on YouTube. Skip the author's autobiographical notes. ...more
Jul 11, 2014 rated it did not like it
I love this man. David Bowie that is. The author is a SPIN magazine writer which means he is the sort of music elitist that makes you want to not like music anymore. And his book gave Bowie zero personality, c'mon this is Bowie! ...more
Debra Komar
Oct 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars, rounded up.
It took me a month to wade through this book. Normally I tear through Bowie bios in a day or two but this one was dense. Great research, plodding delivery. Spitz loves Bowie like I love Bowie, so I forgive his excesses. Great photos - wish there were more.
Feb 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
Favorite line from the book: "Like losing your virginity, you can really only unleash your inner Bowie once." ...more
Jan 12, 2015 marked it as to-read
Alright, Veronica. Here we go... ;)
Shawn Birss
I decided to do more than read this book. I used it instead as a skeleton guide for my first ever exploration of the late David Bowie's complete discography. This review contains my review of every one of his studio albums, followed by my ranking of my top ten favourites.

As I read Marc Spitz' biography, I stopped frequently to read articles, contemporary and historic, about the events in the book. I watched, listened to, and read interviews with Bowie. I listened to every album as I reached it
May 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book 18 of my #2017readingchallenge was begun three weeks ago but due to guests and length (it's 402 pages) and hell, it's about a human I'm fascinated by, so this took forever.

So where to begin? I ordered this book because the author was a friend of a friend who just passed away. In fact, MANY people I knew, knew him. New York is a small town, and it gets smaller when you hang with writers and rockers.

This book is comprehensive. The extent of coverage of 60s to 70s Bowie is INTENSE. Granted it
Angelo C Bonanno
A long time to read

Book was hard to follow, slow and boring, then jumped fast causing me to go back and see if I missed something. Lots of bits of information then lots of filler. I spent months going back and forth trying to enjoy the read. Yes I am a fan. I am a fan of his music and artistry, not of the exploits, sexual behaviours, who he knew or his judgements , good and bad. For me could have Summed all up in half the book. More for the fan who wants every trivial detail of a famous person.
Dec 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I've finally finished this behemoth of a book. I have a lot of thoughts about it but over all I just want to say that I loved it. It captured Bowie and his surrounds in a new way and covered his character flaws and mistakes while still respecting him as a person. This book really captures the writing of a true bowieist and the last few pages of the novel, the author final note, left me close to tears. Fantastic book even if it was dense at times, it was worth every chapter. ...more
Chris Hoff
Apr 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Bottom line, I liked this book. It was a good read. It pulled back the curtain, somewhat, on Bowie's life. But, I don't feel I went away knowing anything more about him than I did before.

This book was written by a rock journalist. And it's written like a rock journalist had written it. There's way to much of a focus on providing album reviews. But I felt somewhat empty when it came to really getting at what makes David Bowie tick.
Sep 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
It has to be difficult to write a boring book about David Bowie. This is one. I’ve read other rock n roll bios and enjoyed them a great deal (Rolling Stones, Beatles). This one seemed too interested in the authors opinions of each album and song rather than deeper insights to Bowie’s life. A few good bits, but it would be impossible to not have a couple with David Bowie! Couldn’t wait to finish this and move on. There has to be better on this subject!
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Marc Spitz was a former senior writer at Spin magazine. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, Maxim, Blender, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, Nylon and the New York Post. Spitz is the co-author (with Brendan Mullen) of the 2001 LA punk oral history We Got The Neutron Bomb: The Untold Story of L.A. Punk. He has authored two novels, How Soon is Never (2003) and Too Much, Too Late (2006), as ...more

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“Every time the economy goes south, art grows. If you were an actuary or an accountant you’d consider those years horrid, but if you were an artist, you’d consider them magic.” 2 likes
“Bowie sat down for an interview with his Hunger costar Susan Sarandon and explained, “When you’re young and you’re determined to crack the big dream of ‘I have a big statement and the world needs to hear my statement,’ there’s something a bit irresponsible about your attitude to the future. A nonrecognition that the future exists. I think it’s important for youth to have that. My son keeps me remembering that there is a tomorrow.” 1 likes
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