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article imageReview: 'David Bowie and the Story of Ziggy Stardust' Special

By Alexander Baron     Jun 23, 2012 in Entertainment
David Bowie is one of the giants of contemporary music, but did you know that he once starred in an ice cream commercial, or that some of his early songs would make any self-respecting rocker cringe?
This hour-long BBC4 documentary (currently on iplayer for those who can receive it) covers the first part of Bowie's career from struggling solo artist until he killed his creation Ziggy Stardust. It includes contributions from another giant of contemporary music - Elton John - and many of Bowie's contemporaries. Elton is literally gushing in his praise. This is actually part of a short season dedicated to Bowie.
The early years saw the former David Jones going through many changes before he found his true stage persona; who could forget the horrible Laughing Gnome, but would anyone really suspect his early inspiration included Anthony Newley? Like Chuck Berry, Bowie's importance lies in his influence rather than simply his songwriting and performing, and this comes through here. It also contains what some might construe as too much information, namely that the androgynous look he captured on stage was not an act, and that before he married Angela Barnett he had a homosexual liaison with the choreographer Lindsay Kemp. Kemp and Bowie actually worked together.
Currently, the man from SongFacts has 69 Bowie recordings in his database, including his breakthrough single Space Oddity, which is actually a rather weak song, although its production inspired Elton John.
Other contributors include Suzi Ronson, widow of early Bowie guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Mick Ronson, who died in 1993 aged only 46.
There is a lot in this documentary, including much archive footage, but no contribution by Bowie himself in the way of contemporaneous interviews.
Mick Ronson performing with Ian Hunter  October 5  1988. Both men had previously worked with Bowie: ...
Mick Ronson performing with Ian Hunter, October 5, 1988. Both men had previously worked with Bowie: Ronson as his lead guitarist; Hunter in his Mott The Hoople Days, for whom Bowie wrote “All The Young Dudes”.
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