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David Bowie

12 minutes
First broadcast:
Monday 30 July 2012

The New Elizabethans: David Bowie. James Naughtie considers the musical influence of the man who first came to public attention in 1969 with his song "Space Oddity", and then exploded onto the music scene in the early 70's with his glam rock, androgynous alter ego, Ziggy Stardust.

Bowie has proved the master of reinvention, breaking into the American market in the mid 70's with songs like "Fame" - described by Bowie as "plastic soul" -, a radical change in style and sound which confounded his UK fan base. He then reached a new commercial peak in 1983 with "Let's Dance" and throughout his career has continued to experiment with musical styles, including blue-eyed soul, industrial, adult contemporary, and jungle. He is widely considered to be the most unique innovator of popular culture of his era.

The New Elizabethans have been chosen by a panel of leading historians, chaired by Lord (Tony) Hall, Chief Executive of London's Royal Opera House. The panellists were Dominic Sandbrook, Bamber Gascoigne, Sally Alexander, Jonathan Agar, Maria Misra and Sir Max Hastings.

They were asked to choose: "Men and women whose actions during the reign of Elizabeth II have had a significant impact on lives in these islands and/or given the age its character, for better or worse."

Producer: Alison Hughes.


    Clip 1: Writer of musicals from TOTP2 20/10/2003

    Clip 2: Ziggy Stardust from One Click - Andy Peebles interview, Radio 1 30/08/2004

    Clip 3: Commercial success from David Bowie: The Golden Years pt 5

    Clip 4: On creative risks from David Bowie: The Golden Years part 6


    Strange Fascination — David Bowie: The Definitive Story by David Buckley (2005) [First published 1999].Virgin. ISBN 978-0-7535-1002-5

    The Bowie Companion by Elizabeth Thomson (1993) Macmillan. ISBN 0-283-06262-2.

    Hallo Spaceboy: The Rebirth of David Bowie by Dave Thompson (2006) Ecw Press. ISBN 978-1-55022-733-8.


    Ziggy Stardust by David Bowie

    Space Oddity by David Bowie

    Fame by David Bowie/John Lennon

    Loving the Aliens by David Bowie

    Young Americans by David Bowie



  1. Image for The New Elizabethans

    The New Elizabethans

    To mark Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee, James Naughtie introduces the 60 new Elizabethans who…

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