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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How a talented boy from Bromley became a rock'n'roll superstar
I enjoyed Paul Trynka's warts and all bio of Iggy Pop and this is an equally worthy assessment of his mentor, peer, friend and inspiration, the uniquely talented boy wonder from Bromley. David Bowie's rise from the Mod psychedelic blues rock scene of late 1960s London to "voice of a generation" is already the stuff of legend. Trynka tracks the various phases of Bowie's...
Published on 2 Jun 2012 by Neil Kernohan

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17 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well Written Overview
It is true that there isn't much new material here but at least this biography has been well written in a professional manner and offers a pretty comprehensive and concise overview of Bowie's career. It does bring the story up-to-date with the final chapter looking at Bowie's relative lack of musical activity since the Reality album and tour. One review describes this as...
Published on 8 Mar 2011 by Kindle Customer


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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How a talented boy from Bromley became a rock'n'roll superstar, 2 Jun 2012
I enjoyed Paul Trynka's warts and all bio of Iggy Pop and this is an equally worthy assessment of his mentor, peer, friend and inspiration, the uniquely talented boy wonder from Bromley. David Bowie's rise from the Mod psychedelic blues rock scene of late 1960s London to "voice of a generation" is already the stuff of legend. Trynka tracks the various phases of Bowie's chameleon-like career with some impeccable research.

I was particularly interested in his 70s period where he rose from a young hustler pushing songs down Tin Pan Alley, thirsting after fame at any cost and competing with his peers like Marc Bolan for pop success, to eventually eclipsing the latter with three of the greatest rock records of all time "Hunky Dory", "Ziggy Stardust" and "Aladdin Sane", thereby not only launching androgynous 70s glam rock but also inspiring genres to come later like punk, new wave, the 80s new romantics and even Brit Pop.

The book is particularly good on the mid 70s phase of Bowie's career when, after killing off Ziggy Stardust and the glam catsuits, he flirted with American soul and collaborated with art rockers like Lou Reed and Iggy Pop. Trynka offers a lot of interesting anecdotal details about the darkest period of Bowie's life, his heavy cocaine use, flirtation with fascist imagery, periodic dabblings in black magic and corporate management bust ups, including with his svengali like manager Tony Defries. All this shaped his highly experimental Berlin albums like "Station to Station" and concided with highly acclaimed forays into acting e.g in Nick Roeg's cult sci fi classic "The Man Who Fell to Earth" and "The Elephant Man" on stage, generally regarded at the time as a revelation of another side to the man's talents.

From there on Bowie entered the realms of rock royalty and became a stalwart of the MTV age with "Lets Dance", over the top (and occasionally parodied) world tours, Live Aid and various ventures into film, drama, art and ambient music, all of which are vividly and sympathetically chronicled by Trynka. From the 90s on he settled into the role of rock elder-statesman, launched the Tin Machine project to mixed reviews, settled down to marital bliss with Iman, put out more experimental albums to mixed acclaim and made shed loads of money through clever business management and smart marketing of his back catalogue.

Trynka also covers Bowie the man in x-ray detail. He was undoubtedly ambitious and self-absorbed to the point of ruthlessness, though at the same time he was capable of tremendous gestures of unselfish loyalty and generosity (not least to Iggy Pop who was a real burnout when Bowie helped him to relaunch his career). But like many of his peers he was undoubtedly shaped by his modest post-war upbringing which prompted a burning desire to be someone instead of staying a suburban nobody at the edge of the music business. One of Trynka's chapters is cleverly entitled "Numero uno mate!" which was the young Bowie's frequent exclamation to his pals about his personal priorities.

All in all I learned a lot from this book about a man who must surely be the most versatile, commercially successful and individually talented British rock star and solo artist of the 20th century.
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Familiar story, thoroughly researched and well written, 16 Mar 2011
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Stephen Lloyd (Bradford, West Yorkshire) - See all my reviews
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I liked this book a lot. When a biographer chooses an artist of Bowie's standing and stature as their subject expectations will be high.

Let's be honest, prolific and successful musicians who have reached Bowie's age have volumes of biographies on the shelves. It must be increasingly difficult to inject anything new into the story particularly when a lot of the main players are no longer with us. Without input from the man himself any new book should rightly be judged on the quality of the writing and in the analysis of the career.

In my opinion Trynka has served his subject very well indeed. I have read most of the significant Bowie texts and there were still some anecdotal details within `Starman' I had previously been unfamiliar with. Trynka documents his research in some detail, chapter by chapter, so there is good indication here that he's done his work.

As a Bowie biography `Starman' is easily up there with the cream on the bookshelves. True, it does not contain the minuscule detail evident in the Pegg and Cann publications but they are in fact reference books not biographies and it is unfair to make comparison.

The reader's expectations of a biography are entirely different to that of a reference manual. One provides a flowing informative narrative (story!) whilst the other is an informative, accessible document to be perused whenever required for detail and verification.

As far as I'm concerned this is a book which I have no hesitation in recommending to the hard core Bowie fan as well as to the marginally interested. For those who care, Trynka's book on Iggy `Open up and bleed' is also worthy of your hard earned cash. Again, the research and quality of the writing readily drawing you in.

If, by some slight chance, you read this Mr. Trynka I for one would be very excited indeed were you to choose Lou Reed or Marc Bolan as your next subject. Both artists worthy of the respect and meticulousness you so clearly give your subjects.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well balanced and very well written, 26 Mar 2012
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Have just finished reading Starman. What a totally fabulous book, superbly written. I felt that the whole flow was pitched correctly, it neither fawned to the man's obvious talent, nor derided his flaws as a human being (being a human being has its flaws for everybody, after all)

Cannot recommend this book highly enough.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic addition to Bowie literature, 21 May 2013
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This review is from: Starman: David Bowie - The Definitive Biography (Kindle Edition)
I have read just about everything on David Bowie and followed his career for almost 40 years, and I still discovered new things in this great book, which I couldn't put down.
Well-written, without flannel to fill it, and the author clearly cares about and loves the subject.
There have been several books on Bowie that seemed like cut'n'paste jobs or simply repeated what us fanatics had already read elsewhere, but not Paul Trynka's book.
Excellent and, for DB fans and those with just a bit more than a passing interest, this will prove a revealing, insightful read.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly the definitive biography, 20 Mar 2011
I was a massive Bowie fan from Space Oddity onwards, and carried Ziggy Stardust around South London in my damp and excited teenage hand, like some Christian convert with their first copy of the Bible. So, many decades later, I started this book with a sense of expectation, hoping to learn a few more secrets about one of our greatest musical talents. I'm pleased to say it delivered everything I hoped for and more.

I think this is an exceptionally well researched and brilliantly pieced together biography. Trynka has a very lucid style, and a great angle on Bowie; outlining his unique ability to steal and completely transform unlikely musical sources, to create new personas in an idiom which had, hitherto, been the province of close knit bands or solo artists. Bowie defied all categories, because of his rare intelligence and his mercurial nature. He really was a completely new phenomenon for the time, which was why he was so magical to those of us who loved him and were transformed by his work.

If Bowie read this biog, I hope he would approve, because I feel Trynka has been fair to the man, and although, obviously a fan himself; has also been honest about his human frailties.

A really excellent read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good read, 1 Jun 2013
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Lots of interesting information about young Mr Bowie. Rare photos too, I recommend this book to all Bowie fans who need to know MORE about their hero
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read, 17 April 2013
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This is an easy read. Always want to start the next chapter, which is a good sign.
Plenty of detail without getting bogged down in lists and statistics.
Recommended.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Man Who Stole the World !!!!!!!!!!!!, 21 May 2011
If there's one individual that epitomises the classic quote "Sex, Drugs & Rock `n' Roll", then look no further than David Bowie. `Starman' by Paul Trynka tells the story of David Jones, from his youth in war-torn London in the forties right up to his semi-retirement in the noughties.
Featuring hundreds of interviews with family, friends, lovers and Musicians, Trynka tells an absorbing story of one of the UK's true music legends.
From the notorious school accident that scratched his eyeball, through failed auditions with Decca, and Joe Meek (the latter declaring that his band weren't "original enough"), this set in motion a song-writing career that only Bowie knew would be as successful as it is.
He was unfazed by failure in those early days, even commenting to friends "when I'm famous, I'm not gonna speak to anybody". Even the failure of `Space Oddity', didn't stop him, but Peter Noone's recording of `Oh You Pretty Things' was the song that brought Bowie from demo to limo.
Bowie's management knew they had a star on their hands, telling RCA "you missed out on the 60s but you can own the 70s, because David Bowie is going to remake the decade".
Evident throughout the book, from various musicians is their unanimous agreement that Bowie got the best of out them in the studio, encouraging them to go that extra mile. From the other side of the glass, however various stories emerge about how badly he treated session musicians.
Apparently he's ring up musicians and asks them to come to the studio to record, but yet once they got there, he was cold to them. He also ignored friends when meeting them in the streets, both events happening while he was taking cocaine. Even at one concert, he demanded the drug before he went on stage stating "I'm not going out unless I get it" he insisted.
If Cocaine was the `Drugs', Lou Reed, Jimmy Page and Iggy Pop were the `Rock n Roll'. The `Sex' was his bi-sexuality, his open marriage with Angie Barnett and his many girlfriends including Ola Hudson (mother of Slash), who Slash would later insist that seeing Bowie in his home was "like watching an alien land in your back garden".
Bowie didn't please everyone throughout his career. We're told about him keeping Liz Taylor waiting for two hours, Aretha Franklin, accepting a Grammy saying "I'm so happy, I could kiss David Bowie", while fans at his gigs would turn up wearing masks and costumes, and waving posters of tombstones with his name on them, that freaked him out.
His recording techniques over the years showed his maturity. In the late 60s he'd arrive at the studio with a complete set of songs, whereas by `Station To Station' he was oozing confidence, and would arrive with only one song ready for recording.
His family life which we've known very little about is constantly touched on throughout the book from the death of his father to the suicide of his half-brother in law, and right up to his marriage to Iman, and the birth of his daughter in 2000.
For a man whos' one major regret was that his son Duncan had an irregular upbringing, he's making up for that now by watching his daughter grow up day-by-day in New York while recovering from a heart attack.
While his musical influences range from Echo & The Bunnymen, and Air to the Pixies, his styles have been replicated by Madonna and Lady Gaga. With it now over eight years since his last studio album, we do know he's now happy with his life at the moment, and whether some new music is imminent or not, his place in musical history is certainly assured. An absorbing read.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book something for everyone, 15 July 2012
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Mr. C Coulson - See all my reviews
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It's a great read and for a change offers something new to the avid Bowie obsessed reader. It's chock full of tasty tidbits from Bowie's early years and through the 70's. It's only in the 90's and noughties that the book runs out of steam..a bit like its subject :( That said, I'd definitely place it among Nicholas Pegg's Complete David Bowie and David Buckley's Strange Fascination as essential reads.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant read, 27 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Starman: David Bowie - The Definitive Biography (Kindle Edition)
I think this is the most detailed and complete David Bowie bio I've ever read - a must for any fan!
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