Role models of greatness.

Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

David Bowie

Openly bisexual British rocker David Bowie (b. 1947) has been reinventing himself for over four decades and still records at age 66, although his last live performances were in 2006. He cut his teeth on glam rock in the early 1970s (the Ziggy Stardust persona), but has blown through blue-eyed soul, folk, industrial, adult contemporary, and jungle genres. Throughout his career, he has sold an estimated 140 million albums. In the U.K., he has been awarded nine Platinum album certifications, 11 Gold and eight Silver, and in the U.S., five Platinum and seven Gold certifications. In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him 39th on their list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time", and 23rd on their list of the best singers of all time.

While a student of art, music, drama and design at a technical school, Bowie learned to play piano, recorder, ukelele and saxophone, and he sang in his school choir. He formed his first band, The Konrads, in 1962, and within a decade had established his androgynous persona that made him famous all over the world.  His Ziggy Stardust shows were ultra-theatrical affairs filled with shocking stage moments, such as Bowie stripping down to a sumo wrestling loincloth and simulating oral sex with a band member’s guitar. In spite of the debilitating effects of cocaine and heroin use, Bowie achieved superstar status by 1980, and by 1990 he was dubbed a megastar with a solo musical career, an acting career (on both stage and screen) and a revived career as a band member.

In a September 1976 magazine interview Bowie said. "It's true – I am a bisexual. But I can't deny that I've used that fact very well. I suppose it's the best thing that ever happened to me.” Ava Cherry, Bowie’s backup singer, reported that Mick Jagger and Bowie were really sexually obsessed with each other. “Even though I was in bed with them many times, I ended up just watching them have sex.” Nevertheless, Bowie married twice and has a son, Duncan Jones, an English film director, from his first marriage.

If business or pleasure takes you to London this spring or summer, queue up for the Victoria and Albert Museum’s special exhibit that forms the first international retrospective of the career of the extraordinary rock musician David Bowie. More than 300 objects in display will include handwritten lyrics, original costumes, photography, film, music videos, set designs and Bowie's own instruments, as well as items from collaborations with artists and designers in the fields of fashion, sound, graphics, theatre, art and film. The exhibit will feature Ziggy Stardust bodysuits (1972) designed by Freddie Burretti, photography by Brian Duffy, album sleeve artwork by Guy Peellaert and Edward Bell, visual excerpts from films and live performances including The Man Who Fell to Earth, music videos (such as Boys Keep Swinging) and set designs created for the 1974 Diamond Dogs tour. The evolution of his creative ideas will be revealed through personal items, such as never before seen storyboards, handwritten set lists and lyrics, Bowie’s own sketches, musical scores and diary entries.

The exhibition David Bowie is... opens March 23 at the Victoria & Albert Museum and runs through July 28, 2013. Info about advance tickets sales, hours, etc., at:

www.vam.ac.uk/content/exhibitions/david-bowie-is/visitor-and-ticket-information/

*Bowie’s new album The Next Day will be released on March 11, 2013. Where Are We Now? (see music video below) was released on January 8, Bowie’s 66th birthday.

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