Off The Record: David Bowie

Off The Record: David Bowie

Off the Record is a new in-depth music biography series that profiles the extraordinary life of an iconic artist over the course of each season. Music journalist Jordan Runtagh (People, Rolling Stone, EW and VH1) offers a revelatory look at the human behind the hits through rich, dramatic storytelling, extensive research, and interviews with those who knew them best. You know the songs, now meet the legends.... Show More

Episodes

March 3, 2021 61 min

David Bowie arrived on U.S. shores in the spring of 1974 to launch the mammoth Diamond Dogs tour, the Broadway-style production inspired by Orwell’s 1984, and his own unnerving trip behind the Iron Curtain. The show was his most elaborate venture to date, epitomizing the dystopian drama that had made him a star. Yet as David spent more and more time in the States, he found himself reconnecting with the music that enthralled him as ...

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We’re taking a quick a quick midseason break from our story this week; we’ll have the next chapter of Bowie’s life for you on Monday, March 8th! But today we have something extra special in store — a conversation with Mr. Ken Scott, the man who co-produced a string of Bowie’s most beloved albums, including Hunky Dory, Ziggy Stardust, and Aladdin Sane. For most people, that’s enough bragging rights to last a lifetime, yet it’s just ...

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Tony Zanetta is a crucial figure in New York’s experimental downtown drama scene of late '60s and early ‘70s. He first entered David Bowie’s orbit as a cast member of Andy Warhol's play ‘Pork’ in 1971 (co-starring with last week's guest, Cherry Vanilla.) Soon he would be swept up in the whirlwind of David's management company, MainMan, headed up by Bowie's larger than life manager, Tony DeFries. In practice, the...

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February 22, 2021 72 min

The American sibling of Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane was born on the road as David Bowie embarked on his triumphant first tour of the United States. With his face bisected by his trademark lightning bolt, the character reflects an artist coming apart at the seams. It seemed like everything David had worked towards was coming through, yet he felt more confused than ever. His finances were a mess. His marriage was beginning to disint...

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Ziggy Stardust wouldn’t have been the same without the help of David Bowie’s new friends from the cast of Andy Warhol’s play, ‘Pork.’ The groundbreaking avant garde theatrical production shocked audiences by taking aim at pretty much every social taboo you could imagine — and maybe a few you can't. David loved it, but he loved the cast even more. He was entranced by their bold style, an unmissable blend of gritty New York stree...

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February 15, 2021 65 min

At last, a starman is born. The arrival of Ziggy Stardust brought David Bowie the fame he'd been working towards for nearly a decade. Fusing innovative fashion, avant-garde theatrical flair, far out sci-fi and killer song craft, he transformed rock 'n' roll into concept art. But he didn't do it alone. The latest installment explores the genesis of Bowie's most iconic creation, with influences ranging from Warhol...

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The latest chapter of ‘Off the Record’ opens with David Bowie’s first trip to the United States in January of 1971. The arrival was a triumph for David — until he was detained by customs officials for his feminine clothes. He received a warmer welcome Ron Oberman, his press agent set to greet him by his label, Mercury Records. Ron was joined by his entire family — his mom, his dad, and his younger brother, music journalist Michael ...

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February 8, 2021 63 min

At the dawn of the decade he’d grow to dominate, David Bowie found himself in low spirits. His first taste of fame with “Space Oddity” was not so sweet, and he seemed in danger of becoming that most sorry of acts: a one hit wonder. As his music career floundered, he grew closer to Angie Barnett, his girlfriend and creative co-conspirator. Their marriage in 1970 was one of the wilder rock unions, characterized by mutual ambition and...

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Our latest chapter followed David Bowie in the late ‘60s — a thrilling, colorful time when his creativity soared to new heights. After half a decade of near constant rejection from the mainstream music industry, David had started to rebel. Instead of chasing pop hits, he embraced the avant garde arts scene that was beginning to blossom in London. A key figure in David’s life was Mary Finnigan, his friend, lover and (somewhat unusua...

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February 1, 2021 63 min

Frustrated by his stalled pop career and emboldened by the creative daring of the psychedelic era, David Bowie begins to embrace more experimental art forms. Mime, movement, avant garde theater and film acting all serve as fascinating artistic detours, and he expands his mind with Tibetan Buddhism. But his first heartbreak makes him feel more alone and adrift than ever, inspiring a song about an astronaut drifting into the black ab...

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Our latest chapter focused on teenage David Bowie as he struggled for fame in the mid '60s. It was a frustrating period for the wannabe rockstar — a time of high hopes and repeated failures as he fronted a string of short-lived bands that followed in the wake of the Beatles and the Stones. David leapfrogged from group to group, hoping he'd find the right one to catapult him to success, but none ever made an impact on the ch...

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Our latest chapter followed young David Bowie as he struggled to find his place in the Mod music scene of swinging sixties London. It was an exciting yet frustrating time for him as he fronted a lengthy list of doomed R&B bands — so close, yet so far from headliners like the Beatles, the Who and the Rolling Stones. Jordan spoke to one of David’s closest friends during that crucial learning period — Dana Gillespie, the legendary...

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January 25, 2021 44 min

At the peak of the Swinging Sixties, young David Jones remained on the fringe of the London music scene, watching bands like the Beatles, the Stones, the Who and the Kinks have all the fun. In just a few short years, the teenager fronted a lengthy list of short-lived groups, all destined to vanish without a trace. His first recordings flopped, and he faced ridicule and humiliation at nearly every turn. It was the most frustrating t...

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Each chapter of 'Off the Record' will be followed by a bonus episode featuring interviews with real life figures from that week's installment. To kick things off, Jordan spoke to George Underwood, the renowned visual artist and David's childhood best friend. David and George were inseparable throughout their youth. These guys went to school together, played their first concerts together, saw Little Richard live and ...

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January 18, 2021 46 min

Who is David Bowie? To answer that question, you’ll have to meet little David Jones, the shy boy growing up in grey, postwar Britain. Grappling with a troubled home life, young David becomes transfixed by science fiction and rock ’n’ roll. A painful family secret spurs him to reject his drab suburban life in favor of beat poetry and free jazz. The vibrant, rebellious artistry inspires him to try his hand at making music of his own....

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The series premiere of 'Off the Record' explores the life — or, rather, lives — of David Bowie by examining each of his iconic personas. Major Tom. Ziggy Stardust. Aladdin Sane. The Thin White Duke. Taken collectively, these faces form a portrait of a one-of-a-kind rock legend. Follow his transformation from lonely London boy struggling to find his way in the Swinging Sixties to cultural innovator, whose relentless drive an...

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