Ever since undergoing heart surgery in 2004, one-time workaholic David Bowie has made very few appearances, recordings or new artistic statements. In recent years, however, interest in the enigmatic star has not waned as evidenced by two new books, and one updated/revised one, published so far this year.
With his latest biography, “David Bowie: Starman” (Little, Brown and Company) former Mojo Magazine editor Paul Trynka digs deep, mining both previously published material on the man and also conducting over 250 new interviews, with friends, collaborators, lovers and associates who were there when it all happened. This could prove to be the closest thing to a definitive biography unless Bowie decides to spill the beans himself. And one has to wonder, given Bowie’s manner of manipulating the media, if even that would surpass this as an honest assessment of his life and career.
In keeping with the title “Starman,” a large part of Trynka’s text focuses on Bowie’s obsession with, and rise to fame, and the people who helped get him there. Combining the artist’s own genius with those of musicians (Mick Ronson, Carlos Alomar, Brian Eno, etc.), producers (Tony Visconti, Ken Scott, Nile Rodgers, etc.) and people he emulated and admired (Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Andy Warhol, etc.), these working relationships brought out the best in him, and in turn, Bowie went from a mid-level pop artist to a bonafide rock star to a mega conglomerate of music, computer games and iTunes apps. The book deals with where Bowie found and borrowed inspiration from (“Starman” = “Over the Rainbow,” “Queen Bitch” = Velvet Underground) and some of the works that owe so much debt to his collaborators.