David Bowie’s death in January 2016 felt like a major milestone. He was one of the most influential music artists of his generation, but Bowie before the creation of Ziggy Stardust, the alter ego that made him famous, remains largely unknown. This film follows five years of his early career, from the late 1960s through to the on-stage death of Ziggy Stardust in 1973. It shows how many of the ideas that originated during these early years and features never seen before archive interviews with some of Bowie’s earliest collaborators.

Also Known As: David Bowie: Finding Fame, David Bowie. Los primeros años, David Bowie: The First Five Years, David Bowien ensimmäiset vuodet, David Bowie: Veien til suksess

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  • maria-mullins
    maria mullins

    “David Bowie Finding Fame” (2019 release from the UK; 95 min.) is a documentary about Bowie’s early years. As the movie opens, we are given a quick glimpse at his 1973 Ziggy Stardust persona, at which time Bowie finally found the mega-success he pursued in vain for so many years. We then go back to “1965” when Bowie, then aged 18, admits he is “writing not very good songs”. He ends up joining a band called The Third Level, one of many bands he joins in those years. Along the way we also get some insights on his upbringing in the Bromley neighborhood on the outskirts of London, with his cold and distant parents who don’t care much for hugging or affection… At this point we are 15 min. into the documentary.Couple of comments: this documentary is directed by Francis Whately, who in 2017 released an excellent documentary called “David Bowie: The Last 5 Years”, providing great insight in Bowie’s last years, most of which out of the public eye (and with shock releases of 2 great albums). This documentary can be seen as the flip side of that, giving us insights as to Bowie’s first (slightly more than 5) years. As a pretty big Bowie fan myself, I knew he toiled in obscurity for years before breaking big, but I must admit I really didn’t know much of the details. This documentary fills in all the blanks in one fell swoop. The film makers seem to go out of their way to track down band mates of Bowie’s earliest bands (The Third Level, The Buzz, The Riot Squad, Feathers, etc.) and the verdict is pretty much unanimous: Bowie is determined and ambitious and loves himself more than anything or anyone else. “He wasn’t lost, he just wasn’t found yet”, is how one of those band mates puts it. (Did you know that Bowie’s very first album, “David Bowie”, was released on June 1, 1967? Yes, the very day that the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper” was released! “Bowie didn’t stand a chance”, comments a former band mate.) The documentary is chock-full with rare and never before seen archive footage.”David Bowie Finding Fame” premiered earlier this year on the BBC to great acclaim, and finally received its US premiere on Showtime, where I saw it. I found it thoroughly enjoyable and revealing in ways I did not expect. Whether you are a casual (?) or die-hard Bowie fan, or simply interested in rock music history, I’d readily suggest you check this out, and draw your own conclusion.

  • timothy-nelson
    timothy nelson

    Finding fame was not easy for David Bowie. It took a while for him to find his own voice.Until then he borrowed Anthony Newley’s with The Laughing Gnome. Bowie was more of a cheeky Cockney, even singing songs from Mary Poppins.As a Londoner, Bowie also had time to try to imitate The Kinks or sing songs of the style of The Who.The songs which Bowie released but they did not chart until The Space Oddity. Even then fame was far away.Bowie was a man who was looking for an image as well as a voice and it seems he was getting there slowly.The look came courtesy of Ziggy Stardust. Once fame was achieved, he put Ziggy away. It was now David Bowie from now on.Although this documentary looked at his childhood, his parents seemed to be distant from him as well as each other. It did lack input from close family and childhood friends. I would liked to have heard more of Bowie before he became a singer.Also Angie Bowie is missing from this documentary. She was instrumental in those early days and getting Bowie and his band to have a certain image and experiment with costumes.

  • catherine-solomon
    catherine solomon

    David Jones, better known by his stage name David Bowie, is often considered the last word in cool, with his musical innovations, ambiguous sexuality, and varied constructed public personas. But an interesting feature of his early career was just how uncool it was. Bowie wanted to be a star, was interested in all forms of art, but as a performer, essentially made novelty records. Even his breakout hit, “Space Oddity”, was really just one such novelty, albeit one he built upon (and even then not instantaneously) to provide the platform for his ultimate fame. This intriguing documentary gives us a glimpse of the young Bowie, ambitious but gauche, and scratching around as he tries to make a living on the outer fringes of the musical scene. It’s interesting, even if you don’t particularly appreciate his music: we often praise artists for being “authentic”, and Bowie was authentic in the sense that he wanted to perform, but it’s clear that we got from him were performances, and in the early cases, not very good ones. And in an age where stars are scouted, trained and marketed from earliest youth, it’s intriguing to look back on a misfit’s rather unlikely path to global fame.