The music world has lost one of its greatest talents, as the indelible English singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, arranger, painter, and actor David Bowie has passed away at the age of 69 after a long battle with cancer. Over the course of his close to 50-year music career, Bowie was a constant innovator who pushed the boundaries of pop music and style, as his infamously androgynous looks and well-crafted songwriting influenced countless musicians and artists, such as Lady Gaga, The Arctic Monkeys, and even Jay Z, just to name a few.
With a career as long and storied as Bowie’s, it makes sense that it would contain all sorts of cool facts and unique stories. While one could easily spend days just reading about Bowie’s fascinating life, we’ve rounded up some of the best bits of trivia to celebrate his life and legacy. With that in mind, here are some bits of David Bowie trivia that you (probably) don’t know about.
8. The Next Day Was Created In Secret
Bowie released his final album, Blackstar, less than a week before his death, which will surely only help that album’s mystique in the long run, but it’s important to remember that his previous album, 2013’s The Next Day, was also a fantastic work that signaled a late-career comeback for Bowie. What you may not know is that Bowie made the album in secret and didn’t even let his PR team know about it. He even went as far as forcing any staff who worked with him to sign non-disclosure agreements. If that’s not rock n’ roll, we don’t know what is.
7. The Song ‘TVC 15’ Was Inspired By A Ridiculous Dream
Station To Station is David Bowie’s 10th album, a transitional milestone for Bowie that also happened to be a cocaine-fueled venture that the musician has claimed he barely remembers having made. As such, it’s not surprising to find that there are a number of wild stories surrounding its recording. One of the best though has to be the claim that the track “TVC 15” was inspired by a dream that Bowie’s friend and frequent collaborator Iggy Pop had. The dream involved Iggy’s girlfriend being eaten by a TV set. As far as song inspirations go, that’s delightfully awesome.
6. Bowie Hated Tea
Unlike many of his fellow Brits, Bowie was never a tea drinker, and it’s pretty understandable why. When Bowie was five, his parents took him on a Thames River cruise where he drank tea that had been stewing for seven years. The taste was so horrible that Bowie refused to drink English tea for the rest of his life. He did however enjoy the occasional cup of Japanese green tea.
5. He Played Almost Every Instrument On The Album Diamond Dogs
While Bowie is primarily known for his iconic singing voice, he was also a talented multi-instrumentalist, a skill that he put to good use on the 1974 concept album Diamond Dogs. Although he still had a backing band, Bowie was primarily responsible for the vocals, guitars, saxes, Moog synthesizer, Mellotron and even served as producer and mixing engineer. Oh, and he also played the iconic guitar riff on “Rebel Rebel.”
4. His Pupil Dilation Was Caused By A Schoolyard Fight
Bowie is well known for having two different colored eyes but contrary to popular belief, this was not the result of a birth defect. His left eye became permanently dilated when he was still in school after his friend George Underwood punched him during a fight over a girl they both liked. Considering it became such a prominent part of his “look” over the years, we severely doubt Bowie harbored any permanent grudge against his friend.
That same eye took another blow in a now-infamous 2004 incident during a performance in Oslo, where Bowie had to briefly stop the show after an errant lollipop thrown by someone in the crowd became lodged between his eyelid and eyeball. Luckily, the candy was successfully removed without causing permanent damage and Bowie continued the show like a champ.
3. His Wife Has An Awesome Bowie Tattoo
Couples getting tattoos symbolizing their love for one another is nothing new, but David Bowie’s second wife, Somalian supermodel Iman, has a truly inspired one referencing her late husband. On her ankle, Iman has a Bowie knife tattoo in honor of her husband. That’s probably a better choice than a Jareth the Goblin King tattoo!
2. He Refused A Knighthood From The Queen
David Bowie was anything but conventional, so it hardly comes as a surprise to find out that he turned down a knighthood offer from Queen Elizabeth II in 2003. As he told The Sun at the time, “I would never have any intention of accepting anything like that. I seriously don’t know what it’s for. It’s not what I spent my life working for.” Well, we can’t argue with that sentiment!
1. The Album Let’s Dance Featured An Unlikely Up-and-Coming Guitarist
Bowie’s 1983 album Let’s Dance marked the musician’s first foray into full-on pop music, but it still featured some great guitar work. And who performed lead guitar on that album, you might ask? None other than blues legend Stevie Ray Vaughan, who was still a relative unknown at the time of the album’s recording. Although Vaughan was a prominent player on the album, he did not take part in the subsequent tour. Probably because he would hit the big time himself that same year.