These never before seen photos of David Bowie as a young man will melt your heart
It was 1967, the year that Bowie's first album, the self-titled David Bowie, released. He was two years away from his world-busting hit with Space Oddity, and the young man was climbing rapidly toward the breaking point where his fame would eclipse him entirely.
He had yet to invent Ziggy Stardust, his legendary glam-rock persona, and was still experimenting with a variety of styles. It was in this time that Bowie had a never-before-seen photoshoot with Gerald Fearnley, a photographer and the brother of one of Bowie's bandmates in 1967. Fearnley shot these photos around the same time as he shot the cover of Bowie's first album.
A new book, Bowie Unseen: Portraits of an Artist as a Young Man, features all these shoots, and the photos of a young man who was soon to realize his destiny, even if his first album was not a breakaway hit.
Bowie's poses, for one, were always legendary.
He experimented a lot with this makeup, which was a mixture between a clown's makeup and a black eye, a wonderful combination. The sad but fabulous clown, the young man with chaos stricken upon his eyes and cheek.
This pose, before a wall of cigarettes like dominos, portrays Bowie's eye masked, gazing at his cigarettes in contemplation. It's an excellent frame.
This pose was simple and meditative. Bowie, reportedly, was immensely interested in mysticism and the occult. The Gnostic Gospels are listed among his 100 favorite books of all time, and his final album, Blackstar, was laden with imagery evoking eyes, rituals, cults and bandaged, shaking beings, blending outer space, the insane asylum and the call of Cthulhu into one perfect album about death.
It's a definite yes on these long sweater sleeves, a style that must and should return, like #3 from Code Name Kids Next Door.
This photo features Bowie in a unique look - with a blond bowl mullet haircut, in color, with that look of 90s angst, its one of a kind. You'll rarely see Bowie look quite like this. Just another reminder that someone so fashionable has gone through so many cases before arriving at his iconic look.
Over a year since David Bowie's death, he's been remembered as a one-of-one, an irreplaceable rock act who paved the path for all artistic pop, rock and music in general to come. He revolutionized style, masculinity and grace at the same time he revolutionized the sound of rock and the entire halls of American music.
And then, knowing he was dying of cancer, Bowie worked relentlessly in the studio on one final album, Blackstar, an album about death by a dying man, inspired by Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly, a dark and arcane record that changed Bowie's image entirely, but solidified him as a mad, ranting prophet, perhaps the truest image possible of the rock star.
The book of unreleased photos, Bowie Unseen: Portraits of an Artist as a Young Man, references Joyce, but Bowie and James Joyce were each very different figures. While Joyce's writing made the story a more difficult thing for the modern common person to read, Bowie's songs brought the sexual archetypes theorized by Camille Paglia into popular culture, making the history of masculinity and femininity accessible through the best and most popular music of his time.
It's amazing to see him as a young man, before any of the fame, and also as an old man dying of cancer, confronting death the only way he knows how - through music and production. The entire life of an icon has been laid out before us.