Cover Image: David Bowie

David Bowie

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

“David Bowie” by Robert Dimery tackles one of music’s most gifted, charismatic, and oddest personalities. The story of how David Robert Jones became David Bowie, the poster boy for 1970s rock n roll, is a great tale about following your dreams and not letting others define who you are.

Robert Dimery starts with a cursory look at Bowie’s early life, his family growing up, before he gets into his music career. In fact, this book spends a lot more time on early Bowie than his later years. We get a lot about his early work, how he dabbled in other media (mime, acting, performance art), and how he let his interests and the atmosphere around him inspire his work and persona. Each album / time period is covered in a separate chapter, the Ziggy Stardust and Berlin trilogy are (of course) my favorite time periods and I believe that they could have used some more history.

And being a Bowie fan, I was always hoping for something more. This is not an in-depth biography, Mr. Dimery skirts around the edges of Bowie, mostly relying on other people’s work and sticking to the barest facts. Even as one finishes this book one feels like we didn’t really learn anything about the man. People are mentioned that drift in and out of his story without really exploring which ones were close, which ones made an impact.

This is a good quick introduction / outline to the genius of David Bowie, which will leave you wanting to know more.

I requested and received a free advanced electronic copy from Laurence King Publishing Ltd via NetGalley. Thank you!
Was this review helpful?
I’ve been a fan for all of my teenage/adult life, so I was delighted to read this book.
An easy and uncomplicated read, but still enjoyable and informative about his life and career, particularly his early career. It’s probably not going to tell a real hardcore fan anything they don’t know, but I would still definitely recommend it.
Was this review helpful?
Long a fan, I was happy to discover this book and to explore the earlier years of this very talented artist and his journey to fulfill his imaginative personas musically and personally.  Recommended reading.
Was this review helpful?
So excited to read this. I grew uo listening to this man. Even called our first family dog Major Tom. I know i know. I now have a parrot called Bowie.
Gorgeous nan taken far too soon before his time.
Was this review helpful?
This is not a 3 or 4-star book but more a 3.5. The book is not as in-depth as it could have been more, but this is a good start for any music fan wanting to know more about the singer. The first three-quarters take us up to Let's Dance, released in 1983 and gives a good account of David Bowie's early career and the different characterisations he took on even before he managed to get his first album released. 
To give credit to Robert Dimery, you could argue that this early period and then throughout his time in Berlin, to Station to Station and up to Let's Dance are Bowie's most interesting period, and I felt this would have been a better book if it had spent more time in this era. Beyond Let's Dance, there is a feeling there was a deadline to hit as the remaining 33 years are quickly glossed over.
Otherwise, I enjoyed this book and it does contain some great information on David Bowie I never knew so well recommended.
Was this review helpful?

This is a David Bowie biography, and it goes from his childhood and his first hits in the 1960s to his death in 2016. This biography explores the phases that Bowie went through throughout his career and the different personas that he created (Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, The Thin White Duke, …), and how he kept reinventing himself until the very end, when he published the album Blackstar on his 69th birthday, exactly 2 days before passing away.


This was a very nice addition to my ever-growing book collection on David Bowie. Overall it was a very good book, I think the author made a good job. This contains a lot of information, sometimes to the point that the book feel a bit dense. There is not a single picture until page 77, and after reading the first couple of chapters I even though there wouldn’t be any pictures at all! 

Some parts of this were a bit tedious, and I think that if it hadn’t been because of how much I already liked Bowie, it would have taken me way longer to read.

David Bowie is a person who, year after year, still amazes me, and it makes me so very sad that I never got to see him in concert. The phases he goes through throughout his career are astounding, and the fact that he looks like completely different people. I simply cannot wrap my mind about it.
Was this review helpful?
David Bowie by Robert Dimery is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in mid-December.

Bowie grows up in an avid tv-watching, musical household; always writing, gravitating from band to band, coming into his own original aesthetic and conveyance. It's a mostly dry biography with an uneven balance between pleasure and business, and no real sense of progression or warmth.
Was this review helpful?
This book was a quick and interesting read. There were parts that I wish were more focused on but overall I think it's great for people who just want a basic overview.
Was this review helpful?
This book is a very brief look at the life and music of one of the greats artists of all time : David Bowie. I have been a fan for my entire life and consider myself well versed in his music and life story. I really enjoyed the first half of this book which focused on the childhood of David Bowie and provided me with some new information. The rest of the book was decent but did not provide any new information ro analysis for someone already familiar with the life and works of Bowie. This quick read would be perfect for a new fan or someone who knows nothing about David Bowie. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an unbiased and honest review.
Was this review helpful?
This is a really speedy read on my part compared to other biographies of David Bowie that I have read previously. To me, this is more like a summary of facts which omits many details from Bowie's life. There is hardly anything new from this book, but nevertheless, it would be a perfect companion for anyone who is into a quick summary of Bowie.
Was this review helpful?
This is a brief overview of Bowie's life and career. It's not at all an in-depth biography. The first half of the book, which I found more interesting is focused on his family life and early music ventures, while the second half is focused on his public life, listing his albums and ventures into acting. It's not the book you want to pick up if you don't know anything about Bowie and want to learn about him as an artist, his life and inspirations. It's a concise run-through of his catalog, with a few tidbits of his private life thrown in. It could definitely be much longer and more complete, but it is a great introduction to an enigmatic talented artist.
Was this review helpful?
I read an eARC from NetGalley and Laurence King Publishing in exchange for an honest review. I have been fascinated with David Bowie since I read an Labyrinth interview with him in Muppet magazine (yes, I'm dating myself!) This book is a Cliff Notes of Bowie's career. Somehow, this author managed to make David Bowie boring. I didn't think that was even possible. Dimery's writing style put me off - tossing off facts/references at break neck speed as if he was writing about an object and not a person. He wrote about Bowie's 60s and 70s music with care. Bowie's music during the 80s and beyond felt rushed through as if the author had to cram those decades in. I was hoping for a deeper exploration into the man behind the artistry. It's for a reader who wants a quick introduction to his music but this doesn't even give much insight about that. Unfortunately, this was not a good fit for me.
Was this review helpful?
David Bowie is a new bio about the iconic entertainer/artist . Due out 9th Feb 2021 from Laurence King publishing, it's 156 pages and will be available in hardcover format. 

The biography follows Bowie's life and career chronologically from his childhood through his chameleon-like stylistic reinventions and the personas he created. The biographer does a good job of avoiding info-dumping dry facts and provides a lot of back-story anecdotes and behind-the-scenes glimpses of Bowie's interactions and friendships and collaborations. 

It's difficult to overestimate the cultural impact Bowie had on modern music and art. The author spends a fair bit of content delineating his artistic periods and documenting them, but the book doesn't only talk about Bowie in a creative vacuum. I also enjoyed very much the stories behind his amazing collaborations with other musicians, actors, and visual artists, and the massive body of work he left behind with so very many talented people.

There isn't much here about his personal life, marriages, or family life with his children. For readers looking for the TMZ version of Bowie's life or conquests, this book will be something of a disappointment. For readers looking for a concise and succinct music history of Bowie and how he shaped modern music through his collaborations, this will be much more appealing. 

There are some useful appendices included in the book: a chronological discography, abbreviated bibliography, and cross referenced index. There are also a number of publicity and press photos included, but very little personal photography. 

Four stars. This would also be a good support text for classroom instruction on modern music history, culture, and allied subjects. 

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.
Was this review helpful?
David Bowie, Robert Dimery

Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews

Genre:  Biography & memoirs. Non-fiction

I'm a child of the seventies, had the Bowie posters on my wall back in 72, much to dad's horror. He never did approve of my musical tastes, Bowie, Queen, Slade ( mum gave them a pass as she liked Noddy, til she read about him bragging how many women he'd had sex with!)Alice cooper, T Rex, Mott the Hoople....many of them get mentions here and I enjoyed that. 

I'm the typical average Bowie fan of the seventies, bought the records, followed the career, copied the man. I wanted to learn more about Bowie the person, how he began, how the music started, what inspired certain songs, his musical influences and connections, and the beginning felt like that. 
Then it moved into areas that seemed to leave much of Bowie behind in favour of mentions of others and analysis of his music. His son barely gets a passing mention it felt, and yet he must have had a huge impact in his life. Looking after a child is huge, you can't just flit off and leave them home alone for a coupe of weeks....How did he manage, was his son brought with him, left with others, did Angie look after him? Though given her issues that's unlikely, but that's the kind of thing I was curious about. The practicalities. How did he afford to continue, where did the money come from? Record companies I assume, but what were the strings? 
I loved little snippets like him giving Mott the Hoople All The Young Dudes, and the interactions with Marc Bolan that the first part held and was sure this was going to be a book I'd love. If that kind of detail had continued, I would have loved it. 
Later though I felt it became very in depth, too in depth on the wrong ( for me ) focus, citing people, people and yet more people, giving far more opinions about the music  than the facts and snippets around its inception I would have loved, and I was lost. I didn't know these specific people from the music world. I know nothing of labels, producers, directors, stylists, and all the back staff, I barely know what they do, have no idea who they are. They meant nothing to me other than how they affect Bowie. I had to keep tracking back working out where and why and how and I didn't enjoy that. 

I didn't feel the book focused enough on Bowie himself and the reasons for the music, but more on how his rise grew through others, bringing those others into the book more than I wanted. I didn't know them, wasn't invested in their stories.  That's me though, and others will find just what they want from this.

Stars: Three. Bowie was a musical genius, and I don't feel this book does him justice. Its got some interest to it, but overall he didn't feel the focus to me, his life and influences was what I wanted, not the myriad of ancillary label people. 

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers
Was this review helpful?
I am a huge Bowie fan - even have a tattoo of the great man himself. So I was excited to have the opportunity to read this book before it's published.

The book isn't particularly detailed. It doesn't go into anything in-depth, its very concise and straight to the point. So it's a good book if you just want a glimpse of David Bowie. However if you're a fan and want to delve a little deeper into his life, you will be disappointed. 

Overall its an easy read, and I liked Dimery's writing style - I just wish it told me something new, and went in a little deeper!
Was this review helpful?
Whether you are a seasoned fan of David Bowie or wanting an introduction to who he was, then this compelling book would make a great starting point or addition to anyone's music collection.

Full Review

A biography of David Bowie, I felt would be an ambitious book for anyone to pull off, there is after all, so much to say about him, but one that Robert Dimery has managed expertly to do, to make it an excellent introduction or addition to anyone's musician book collection.

The contents page is enough to intrigue and scoop David Barlow fans up:

Becoming Bowie ♦ Of Mods and Mime ♦ Lift-off ♦ Rock 'n' Roll Alien ♦ Ziggy Goes To America ♦
Diamond Dogs and the Thin White Duke ♦ Berlin Calling ♦ Scary Monsters (and Superstardom) ♦
Losing the Muse ♦ Art-house Rules

This book is mature in writing. Let's face it, writing about someone as elusive and yet as popular as David Bowie must have been an exciting opportunity, but very nicely it doesn't feel like the author has hyped him up. He hasn't shied away from, what must have been challenging times in David Bowie's life of not being instantly loved and having to face some criticism. There are also the times, which must have been terrific, when things were going well. It feels very authentic and rounded.

The book, after a foreward, begins to tell you who David Bowie was as a man, the street he was on and a bit about his close family life and extended relatives and the atmosphere certain developments created. It captivates and gives a bit more understanding of David Bowie, away from the professional, famous persona he had. There are also other popstars of the time mentioned, which gives depth and all relates to David Bowie one way or another and bands he was part of. It is interesting reading about the eclectic music involved and performing on music shows such as Ready Steady Go, in his early career. There is also a look at the actual development of how he became a solo artist. There's a nuanced exploration into sexuality that pops up every so often, like just reminding people how this influenced people and how people related to David Bowie. It is evident that a lot of David Bowie's life has been researched and also the wider sphere of it, which creates fascination and in a way, perhaps readers will see something of themselves reflected back at them or remember the quotes from some famous fans, from the likes of NME.
It says about the uneasy start of Space Oddity, which these days, it's hard to believe, but this is what the book shows, that the pop business isn't as easy as it makes out to be. It has a truth about it, that even the most well-known had very challenging times. The book  rolls into Bowie's alter-ego - Ziggy Stardust and what influenced certain music, such as his stage entrances. There are nuggets throughout the book, which is like a glimpse of behind the scenes and into the music business, as well as his own individuality, creating such a fascinating book. Going stateside is quite the eye-opener in terms of music, but even more so in the affect it had on himself and Angie. Later it talks of Iman and takes readers right up to Blackstar, where it is all quite emotional due to his death, and yet stay in keeping with the tone of the rest of the book, which is factual and has a professional, rather than over-excited fan, feel to it and that's what helps keep it interesting, at times intriguing and most certainly compelling. It feels like this is okay to read because it seems to document how things are and there are some well-placed quotes, which brings David Bowie's voice into the writing. It feels respectful. In the middle of the book, there are also some fabulous photos of David Bowie, documenting through his years of being a star, pictorially.
At the back, readers are treated to discography and further reading of live albums.
Was this review helpful?
A concise overview of Bowie's career. The book doesn't delve too deeply into any of the albums, but provides just the right amount of detail. His creative output seemed to dim when he stopped taking drugs. I love Life on Mars?.
Was this review helpful?
He's a starrrrrmannnnnnnn

This is a book for Bowie fanatics. A casual fan may find it full of unknown references but I found it facilitating. I have loved David Bowie my entire life so I enjoyed this book greatly. 

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for the opportunity to read and review this book.
Was this review helpful?
I definitely consider myself an avid David Bowie fan, having dived down the rabbit hole of his work after watching the (much maligned) Glass Spider Tour on television in my teens. I loved it, but I loved Bowie even more as I stepped backwards through the eighties, seventies and sixties coming to rest at my favourite Bowie album Space Oddity. I am thus also highly cognisant of the fact that I'm writing this review on the 5th anniversary of Bowie's death in 2016. This is a short book on the life and works (music, films and plays) of Bowie, with a generous proportion of the book dedicated to his golden years, say the first fifteen years of his career. This is clearly also the part of Bowie's oeuvre that the author has the most appreciation for and the book takes a riveting ride through Bowie's long musical career. I've not read a lot about David Bowie so far (although I occasionally leaf through Nicholas Pegg's "the Complete David Bowie" to get a more thorough appreciation of the meaning of his lyrics). I was pleasantly surprised by the abundance of information on the first phase of Bowie's career. Dimery is clearly less enamoured by the more commercial phase that Bowie went through in the eighties and even the many experiments that Bowie was able to pursue in the nineties. This is a book which can easily be doubled to 300 pages to further explore the last thirty years of his life more thoroughly. As I finished the book, his songs continued playing in my head, and I was left wanting for more. So now to play David Bowie's "My Death"...
Was this review helpful?
I have been very interested in memoirs and biographies of musicians recently, so I was grateful and excited to have been chosen by NetGalley and Laurence King Publishing Ltd to receive a copy of David Bowie, by Robert Dinery. This is a brief overview of Bowie's life and career. It's not at all an in-depth biography. The first half of the book, which I found more interesting is focused on his family life and early music ventures, while the second half is focused on his public life, listing his albums and ventures into acting. It's not the book you want to pick up if you don't know anything about Bowie and want to learn about him as an artist, his life and inspirations. It's a concise run-through of his catalog, with a few tidbits of his private life thrown in. It could definitely be much longer and more complete, but it is a great introduction to an enigmatic talented artist.
Was this review helpful?