* ArtistDisillusionment: Narrowly averted. After the Glass Spider Tour, Bowie seriously considered focusing on his hobby of painting instead of music, having found so little lasting satisfaction in trying to please the fans ''Let's Dance'' had brought him. Reeves Gabrels convinced him that he could learn to love his work again if he just focused on what made him happy, and from there the seeds of Tin Machine were planted...
* AwesomeDearBoy: Inverted -- he turned down the role of Max Zorin in ''Film/AViewToAKill'' because he hated the script and didn't think it would be fun to work on ("I didn't want to spend five months watching my stunt double fall off cliffs"). Played straight with several of his film roles, which he usually picked over other, more conventional star vehicle offers because he wanted to work with their directors, performers, or simply liked the concepts.
* BreakthroughHit: "Starman". In the U.K., his ''Top of the Pops'' [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v342TST9tFw performance of this song]], complete with some FauxYay between him and guitarist Mick Ronson, is as fondly recalled as a superstar-making moment as Music/MichaelJackson's performance of "Billie Jean" on ''Motown 25'' is everywhere else. His U.S. breakthrough was "Young Americans" in 1975.
* CashCowFranchise: While he no longer tours and ''The Next Day'' was his first studio album in a decade, the bulk of his back catalog is still in print and often receives elaborate reissues (particularly his GlamRock works), there's a good deal of merchandising surrounding him, and new documentaries and/or books about his career (especially the latter) come along every year. The ''David Bowie Is'' retrospective of costumes and other memorabilia from his personal archive smashed attendance records at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London in 2013 and will be touring the world's premier museums well into 2016.
* CreatorBreakdown: ''Low'' was written and recorded while Bowie was starting to wean himself off cocaine, and while his marriage to Angela was showing fissures that would soon lead to divorce. That set the tone for both the album and its title.
** And this was the album where Bowie was ''recovering'' (it has been described, not inaccurately, as "a cocaine come down put to music"). His previous album, ''Station to Station'', was recorded in LA while Bowie was suffering a full-blown cocaine-induced psychotic breakdown. He has claimed in interviews he remembers nothing about the recording other than describing the guitar sound he wanted on the title track to the session musician, but there are many stories about his behaviour at the time.
* DyeHard: His dark blonde locks were dyed very red to help complete Ziggy Stardust's look in 1972; even after he dropped the character he would stick with predominantly red hair until the end of The Thin White Duke's reign in 1976.
* ExecutiveMeddling: A rare ''positive'' example of this came with ''Ziggy Stardust'' when [=RCA=] execs liked it, but also wanted a song that they could push as a single. So Bowie wrote "Starman", which replaced a cover of Music/ChuckBerry's "Around and Around" on the album and turned out to be the song that made his career.
* FanNickname: His crotch has been deified and named The Area by fans. It has its own [[http://id34111.securedata.net/areaology/ website]] and religion.
** Bowie himself is called "The Dame" in the British music press. This dates back to TheEighties and the height of his mainstream success, and was initially used as a putdown (according to journalist Charles Sharr Murray). Likely inspired by the "Dame" character in British {{Pantomime}}, who is a comic old woman played by a beloved, famous LargeHam male performer in drag.
* HeyItsThatGuy: Notable guests/backup performers in Bowie's work (beyond duets and his well-established collaborative efforts with Iggy Pop and Music/BrianEno) include:
** [[Music/{{Yes}} Rick Wakeman]] on piano on ''Music/HunkyDory'', ladies and gentlemen! He also provides the Mellotron in "Space Oddity", bringing him into the limelight for the first time.
** In addition to providing backing vocals, Music/LutherVandross co-wrote a song on ''Young Americans'' ("Fascination"). Over a decade later, he contributed to the backing vocals on [[Film/{{Labyrinth}} "Underground"]]...as did Chaka Khan and Cissy Houston (who is probably best known to the general public as [[Music/WhitneyHouston Whitney]]'s mom, but is an accomplished singer in her own right).
** Also from ''Young Americans'': Music/JohnLennon not only co-wrote "Fame" but provided backing vocals and guitar work on that and Bowie's cover of "Across the Universe".
** Stevie Ray Vaughan on guitar on ''Let's Dance''.
** Music/PeterFrampton on guitar for both ''Never Let Me Down'' and the supporting Glass Spider Tour. Fun fact: he and Bowie were schoolmates back in the day.
** [[Music/KingCrimson Robert Fripp]] on guitar for ''"Heroes"'' and Adrian Belew for ''Lodger'', the follow-up Isolar II tour, and (much later) the Sound+Vision tour.
** [[Music/TheWho Pete Townshend]], Robert Fripp and Chuck Hammer on guitar for ''Scary Monsters''. Townshend would come back for ''Heathen''.
** Two of Bowie's biggest hits of TheNineties came via remixes with guest performers -- Music/PetShopBoys on "Hallo Spaceboy" (''1. Outside'') and Music/NineInchNails on "I'm Afraid of Americans" (''Earthling'').
* IronyAsSheIsCast: Played CelibateHero [[Film/ThePrestige Nikola Tesla]] and HollywoodToneDeaf [[Film/TheManWhoFellToEarth Thomas Jerome Newton]] and [[Film/MerryChristmasMrLawrence Jack Celliers.]]
* KeepCirculatingTheTapes
** ''Just a Gigolo'' never had a DVD release beyond Germany, and VHS copies date back to TheEighties and are tough to find.
** The BBC production of BertoltBrecht's ''Baal'' he toplined in 1982 has never been released on video anywhere, and the tie-in EP never had a CD release (though two of the five songs can be found on official best-of sets).
** No reissue of ''Never Let Me Down'' includes "Too Dizzy". Bowie historian Nicholas Pegg theorizes in ''The Complete David Bowie'' that Bowie sees it as OldShame since it's a [[SillyLoveSongs Silly Love Song]] that can be interpreted as a rapist's monologue: she's reluctant and already has a lover, but the singer is determined to make her his...
** While most of his music videos have been officially released on various formats, a few slipped through the cracks -- including the handful of videos he made with Tin Machine. The videos from the first album can be seen legally on Website/YouTube via [=VEVO=], since EMI uploaded them, but since Bowie and co. did ''Tin Machine II'' on another label, those videos are MIA.
* MagnumOpusDissonance: His entire career is rife with this, as the songs/albums he wrote for art are generally in the shadow of those he wrote for commerce. However, the first and biggest example for him would be a little song he slapped together out of boredom... he was actually embarrassed by it. "Space Oddity", his first hit -- and still popular to this day.
* MeanCharacterNiceActor: Despite at times appearing to be insane, he is known to be a very friendly and polite man.
* MissingEpisode: ''Toy'', which would have come after ''hours...''.
* MoneyDearBoy: Bowie was pretty open that the purpose of ''Let's Dance'' was "to have hits". (Although a big seller in the 1970s, a disastrous deal with his manager meant he saw very little of the money.) He also cited this trope when explaining why he did the Pepsi ad...indeed, he said it's probably the ''only'' reason anyone would do an ad.
** With regards to this trope and ''Let's Dance'', consider the CoverVersion of "China Girl", a track off of [[Music/TheStooges Iggy Pop]]'s album ''The Idiot'' that was written by both Bowie and Iggy. It was a hit single, which was most likely [[HeterosexualLifePartners a calculated move on Bowie's part, because Iggy was having severe financial troubles]]. And Bowie's next two albums included at least one Iggy Pop cover apiece...
* NamesTheSame: He was born David Robert Jones. He changed his name to avoid being confused with Davy Jones of Music/TheMonkees.
* NoBudget: The video for "Love Is Lost" cost only $12.99 according to the [[http://www.davidbowie.com/news/watch-bowie-s-1299-love-lost-video-here-now-52201 official press release]]! The life-sized puppets? They were actually created for an unreleased 1999 video (see What Could Have Been below) and taken out of mothballs in 2013. The three-person crew included himself!
* OldShame:
** He disavows his 1967 album in general. It would probably be unwise even to mention "The Laughing Gnome" -- but some people will likely never let him forget it.
** He regrets sticking with the style of ''Let's Dance'' for as long as he did.
** He wasn't happy with how ''Just a Gigolo'' (1978), his first film after ''The Man Who Fell to Earth'', turned out -- "Listen, you were disappointed, and you weren't even in it. Imagine how we felt."
* OneOfUs
** He was the first mainstream artist to release both a single ("Telling Lies" in 1996) and a full album (''hours...'' in 1999) for download. His official website also served as an ISP in its early days...just as NewMediaAreEvil was gripping the music industry again. During the salad days of Bowienet, he participated in online chats with members and, under the handle "Sailor", frequented its message boards.
** He's something of a Japanophile -- Ziggy Stardust's look owes a lot to kabuki theater -- and has demonstrated surprisingly insightful knowledge of Japanese politics and philosophy in interviews.
** Much of ''hours...'''s music first appeared in ''VideoGame/OmikronTheNomadSoul'', in which he plays two different characters. He even claimed in an interview promoting the game that he not only plays video games but briefly nursed a crush on [[Franchise/TombRaider Lara Croft]] before remembering she wasn't real!
** A BookWorm (see his main page for more on this).
* PlayingAgainstType: He made his Broadway debut as the title character of the play ''Film/TheElephantMan'' in 1980. While he didn't use prosthetics (as per the play's instructions, he distorted his body language and voice instead), [[TheGrotesque the gentle grotesque]] definitely contrasted to his usual bold, sexy image. In ''Jazzin' for Blue Jean'', dorky Vic is also absent Bowie's usual charms, and is deliberately contrasted with Screamin' Lord Byron, a more conventionally Bowie-esque figure, albeit one who's PlayedForLaughs.
* PromotedFanboy
** Music/ThePixies were enormous Bowie fans, and then he covered their song "Cactus" on ''Heathen''.
** Creator/TildaSwinton has been an avowed Bowie fan ever since she saw ''Film/TheManWhoFellToEarth'', and in the 2013 video for "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)" she got to play his wife.
** Bowie himself was a big fan of Music/LouReed - and ended up producing his album ''Music/{{Transformer}}''.
* ReclusiveArtist: Became this in the late '00s -- he only occasionally surfaced in public (usually attending the odd charity fundraiser) and hadn't performed live, recorded, or granted an interview in years. In 2011 biographer Paul Trynka effectively confirmed that Bowie had indeed quietly retired, unlikely to make another record unless it's "seismic"...and then came the announcement of ''The Next Day'' in 2013. He may be keeping to himself, but he certainly isn't "retired" anymore.
* SoMyKidsCanWatch: Twice. He narrated ''Music/PeterAndTheWolf'' in 1978 because his son was a fan of the work. Decades later, his daughter was a ''WesternAnimation/SpongeBobSquarePants'' fan, hence his voicework in the "Atlantis Squarepantis" special as Lord Royal Highness.
* TroubledProduction: The Diamond Dogs and Glass Spider Tours (1974 and 1987, respectively), the two most elaborately staged of his tours. Both had numerous technical/logistical challenges to face just for starters.
** Not to mention ''A Reality Tour''. A stagehand met an accidental death before one show, Bowie was struck in the eye with a lollipop at another, and ultimately, the last few dates of the tour were cancelled due to Bowie's heart attack.
* TypeCasting: Most of his roles, be they goodies or baddies, human or inhuman, are linked by a cool, mysterious aura -- the trailer for the movie ''Film/TheHunger'' referred to this as "cruel elegance".
* WhatCouldHaveBeen
** He was preparing a musical version of ''[[Literature/NineteenEightyFour 1984]]'' as a post-Ziggy Stardust project, but couldn't get the rights from Orwell's widow; some of the songs he wrote for it were recorded and released on ''Music/Diamond Dogs''. A 1980 ''New Music Express'' interview revealed he actually worked on a surreal, partially-animated film based on the album, intending to release it DirectToVideo.
** In 1973, it was announced he was going to play Valentine Michael Smith in a film adaptation of ''Literature/StrangerInAStrangeLand''.
** He was announced as a cast member for the 1976 film version of ''TheBlueBird'' (perhaps as Fire -- the only major role fit for someone his age), but didn't like the script enough to go through with it.
** "Golden Years" was written for Music/ElvisPresley, but he turned it down. (Fun fact: Presley and Bowie were both born on January 8.)
** He worked on a musical score for ''Film/TheManWhoFellToEarth'' with Paul Buckmaster, but it didn't pan out. Aside from a bass part that, played backward, was incorporated into the ''Low'' track "Subterraneans", none of this music has been made available. It would have included a song called "Wheels" (referencing the train imagery in the film).
** He wanted to be in ''The Eagle Has Landed'' but the director went on record as saying his audition wasn't good. Other could-have-been movie projects in the late 1970s included:
*** An adaptation of ''Theatre/TheThreepennyOpera'' directed by Creator/RainerWernerFassbinder, and...
*** ''Wally'', in which he would have played painter Egon Schiele (this came ''very'' close to being a reality).
*** Director Lina Wertmueller wanted to work with him, but he didn't want to work with her.
** David Hemmings, who directed Bowie in ''Just a Gigolo'', also filmed one of his 1978 concerts, but Bowie wasn't happy with the result and it was never released.
** There is evidence that Mark David Chapman, the man who murdered Music/JohnLennon, considered murdering Bowie, who was also in New York City at the end of 1980 (performing in ''The Elephant Man'' on Broadway). He apparently made a choice between killing Bowie or Lennon what if he'd gone with the former? Or much worse, decided to kill ''both'' men?
** He planned to tour in 1981 in the wake of ''Scary Monsters'' but never did.
** He bid for the rights to ''Film/{{Metropolis}}'' in the early '80s, but was outbid by Giorgio Moroder. As the trope page for the film puts it, "God knows what he...scratch that, probably even ''God'' doesn't know what Bowie would have done with ''Metropolis''."
** His busy schedule in TheEighties not only forced him to drop out of the title role in the ''Series/FaerieTaleTheatre'' adaptation of "The Pied Piper of Hamelin" (Eric Idle took over the part), but also kept the ''Series/DoctorWho'' producers from casting him as Sharaz Jek in "The Caves of Androzani" (the Fifth Doctor's final serial)!
** As noted above under AwesomeDearBoy, he was offered the part of Zorin in ''Film/AViewToAKill'' but turned it down.
** His participation in Live Aid was supposed to include a live trans-Atlantic duet with Mick Jagger on "Dancing in the Street", but this proved technologically impossible; instead, they made the infamous video for it that aired during the broadcast. Also, Bowie's set was going to include five songs rather than four, but he chose to give up the time so a montage of video footage of the suffering Ethiopians the concert was benefiting could be aired instead.
** He was sought for the title role in ''Film/{{Hook}}'' but turned it down -- he probably came closer to being in a ''PeterPan'' movie than Music/MichaelJackson ever was.
** ''2.Contamination'' and ''3.Africaans'', the planned continuations of ''1.Outside'', were never recorded. (Supposedly some of ''2.Contamination'' was recorded onto tape, but will never see daylight.)
** A ConceptVideo was shot for "The Pretty Things Are Going to Hell" (''hours...''), with Bowie encountering several of his past personas as "played" by life-sized puppets, but he wasn't happy with the result and it remains unreleased. Two of the puppets -- The Thin White Duke and Pierrot -- got their closeups in 2013, when he reused them for the "Love Is Lost" video.
** In the lead up to the 30th anniversary of ''Ziggy Stardust'' in 2002, he considered such ideas as a stage musical about the character or outright reviving him on the concert stage, none of which came to pass.
** ''Toy'' was intended to be the album between ''hours...'' and ''Heathen'' and it would've featured newly rearranged versions of his obscure mid-'60s stuff, with a few new tracks tossed in as well. Two of the new songs ("Slip Away" and "Afraid") made it onto ''Heathen'', and a few other tracks appeared in the U.K. or Japan as B-sides. And then in the spring of 2011, the album was leaked online and generated enough press that it was formally reviewed by ''Classic Rock'' magazine.
** He declined to cover one of Music/PeterGabriel's songs for his ''[[CoverAlbum Scratch My Back]]'' companion project ''I'll Scratch Yours'', where each of the artists he covered covers one of his songs in turn. We got Music/BrianEno instead.
** In 2011, rumours of a 2012 Farewell Tour with a reformed Music/NineInchNails surfaced, only to be revealed as an {{April Fools|Day}} joke.
** The world might have come to call him ''Sir'' David Bowie, but he turned down the opportunity to be knighted.
** He was asked to perform at the 2012 Olympics, but declined. That didn't stop ""Heroes"" from serving as the unofficial theme song of the British athletes, and several of his other songs were incorporated into the opening and closing ceremonies.
** In the late '70s and TheEighties, he frequently expressed a desire to ''direct'' movies as well as act in them. Although he did receive co-director credit on several of his videos, he never would direct a feature. (His son Duncan, on the other hand...)
** The creators of ''WesternAnimation/TheVentureBrothers'' tried to get Bowie to voice himself, but never heard back from him/his agent.
* WordOfGod: 'All The Young Dudes' is not a song celebrating youth according to Bowie but the very opposite.
* WorkingTitle: For his albums:
** ''Metrobolist'' for ''Music/TheManWhoSoldTheWorld''
** ''Love Aladdin Vein'' for ''Aladdin Sane''
** ''We Are the Dead'' for ''Music/DiamondDogs''
** ''The Golden Years'' for ''Station to Station''
** ''New Music: Night and Day'' for ''Low''
** ''Planned Accidents'' for ''Lodger''
** ''Vampires and Human Flesh'' for ''Let's Dance''
* WritingByTheSeatOfYourPants: On many albums, Bowie went into the studio with a few chord changes and wrote the songs on the hoof (""Music/{{Heroes}}"" was being written as it was recorded). Averted, however, on ''Music/HunkyDory'' on which Bowie carefully crafted the songs on the piano before entering the studio.
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