The Making of an Icon


“I never expected all this to happen, in the sixties I was told… I was too avant-garde to be successful.”

David Bowie arrived, spectacularly, into the 1970s music scene and proceeded for the next 15-20 years to drastically change the course of music today. His new albums brought new characters into our lives and grabbed our attentions… then suddenly we don’t know who he is, once again. The great magician, like Warhol, disappeared and

Last week I was lucky, in my aimless channel flicking, to stumble upon the BBC documentary David Bowie: The Making of an Icon. As one of my favourite musicians and artists, who has seen many anecdotes in the past, this new documentary gave me an even further appreciation of the intricacies and depth of this artist.

The documentary is heralded to be a definitive portrait of Bowie, which follows the progression and transformation of his music from the early 70s to the late 80s and provides an insight towards the collaborative efforts of the artists, producers, and friends involved in creating his continuing success.

BBC filmmaker Frances Whately spent six months with a small, dedicated team trawling through archives around the world to provide a new perspective on the musician with unseen footage, performances, present day interviews with his collaborators and friends, archival interviews with the man himself, serving as a commentary throughout the film,

Carlos Alomar, Musical Director and Bowie’s guitarist, is one of the collaborators interviewed

The film opens with Bowie’s sexually ambiguous alter ego, Ziggy Stardust, the man who brought glam rock to Britain in 1972. The documentary then shifts to barely a year later when Bowie relocated to Los Angeles to pursue a white reading of black soul music, culminating with his 1975 classic Young Americans.

decamped to Cold War-era Berlin, for a trilogy of krautrock-inspired records, the most famous being 1977’s “Heroes”. By 1979, he was off again, pre-empting the New Romantics in New York, before becoming one himself, with 1983’s Let’s Dance.

Let’s Dance was an experimental record for Bowie, it worked on a pop level and international success with songs like ‘Let’s Dance’, ‘Fame’, ‘China Girl’, proving his versatility with the 80s MTV era, also attempted by artists such as Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney but without the same success. Bowie gives a commentary over concert footage, “I allowed myself to be pushed into the commercial arena, I wanted to see what it was like.”

For a short time, you can watch the documentary via ABC iview:

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