31 David Bowie quotes: by him, about him

Last night I got a Twitter message from reader BrockyXV11 :

Myles I’m sure you’ve written a piece or two about Mr Bowie. Interested to hear your thoughts on yesterdays sad news.

So I searched BOWIE  on my computer and the first thing that came up was a chapter from a book of Rock Quotes compiled soon after the Barcelona- Sampdoria Final .

The book was called Small Talk, Big Names and the cover featured cartoons of Elvis, Madonna and Jagger.

On the night before that game I watched the teams train at Wembley and then got a taxi to a party in Shepherds Bush to meet Bill and Peter of Mainstream, the Edinburgh publisher.

We had a chapter on David Bowie.

Of course when I first saw Bowie & the Spiders at a college gig in Central London, that was in the age of vinyl and typewriters.  I bought my first word processor with an advance from Sidgwick & Jackson in 1989 or 1990.


I was a really heavy Mod.
© Bowie on the 17-year old Davy Jones.

Sometimes I don’t feel as if I am a person at all. I’m just a collection of other people’s ideas.
© David Bowie.

David’s present image is to come on like a swishy queen, a gorgeously effeminate boy. He’s as camp as a row of tents, with his limp hands and trolling vocabulary.
© Michael Watts, Melody Maker, 1972.

I’m gay, and always have been, even when I was David Jones.
© Bowie, 1972.

The performer is strictly a product of the public’s imagination. We’re just a reflection of what people want. It’s the audience that are fags if anything.
© Bowie.

It is Bowie, perhaps more than any other performer, who began the tyranny of style, image and media manipulation which has been the theme of pop music for the past ten years.
© Mick Brown, The Sunday Times

Ziggy Stardust is excellent, it is true, but it all seems old hat. If David Bowie is a genius, then we have reduced that term to mean nothing more than someone who is familiar with relatively exciting readymakes, is able to execute them competently, interestingly, intricately. And if this is what genius has become, it may as well be laid to rest next to our already-lengthy list of “So what’s.”
© Dave Marsh, Creem, 1972 .

His flamboyant drive for pop-star status has stamped him in many people’s eyes as a naked opportunist and poseur.
© Ben Gerson, Rolling Stone, 1973.

I’ve always studied rock quite analytically. Only small areas of rock – but the rock that’s intrigued me and got me off.
© David Bowie, 1973.

Maybe I’m not into rock ‘n’roll. Maybe I just use rock ‘n’ roll. This is what I do. I’m not into rock ‘n’ roll at all.
© David Bowie, 1973.

The fans are clustered in the lobby, dazzling in silver, satins , snakeskins, with thick unisex make-up, and there are shrieks and giggles as the commissionaire lumbers heavily forwards.
© Anthony Haden, Guest at the Pierre Hotel, New York, 1975

Aladdin Sane is a disappointment…Before its release Bowie looked like the most important figure to emerge in rock music since 1967; now we’ll have to wait and see.
© Ken Emerson, Fusion, 1973

I taught him to exaggerate with his body as well as with his voice, and the importance of looking as well as sounding  beautiful. Ever since working with me he’s practiced that, and in each performance he does his movements are more exquisite,.
© Lindsey Kemp, Crawdaddy, 1975.

In his latest incarnation, he takes on the form of an interplanetary bisexual tart. Bowie himself has spoken of the need for some “unabashed prostitution” in rock, and part of the effect of the rouge and mascara, the white satin pyjamas and the bright orange hair, is to symbolise that he’s putting himself up
for sale.
© Ian Hoare.

It’s not infrequent that I wake up on a chilly morning and wish I was in Kyoto or somewhere and in a Zen monastery. That feeling lasts for well over five or six minutes before I go and have a cigarette and a cup of  coffee and (laughs) go for a walk round the block to shake that off.
© David Bowie, 1980.

Every real, legitimate actor that I’ve ever met has told me neve to even approach a film unless you know the script is good. If the script isn’t any good, then there’s no way  a film is going to be good.
© David Bowie, 1980.

It’s the most vile piss-pot in the world.
© David Bowie on Los Angeles, 1977

It’s a movie that is so corrupt with a script that is so devious and insidious. Its the scariest movie ever written. You feel a total victim there, and you know someone’s got the strings on you.
© Bowie on Los Angeles, 1977.

The fucking place should be wiped off the face of the earth. To be anything to do with rock and roll and to go and live in Los Angeles is I think just heading for disaster. It really is.Even Brian Eno, who’s so adaptable and quite as versatile as I am now living in strange and foreign environments, he couldn’t last there more than six weeks. He had to get out. But he was very clever . He got out much earlier than I did.
© Bowie, 1980.

No other Seventies rock star has represented so much in the fashions and social conduct of the young, or, for that matter, been so overweeningly ambitious as to want to extend that influence over the cinema and intellectuial circles.
© Michael Watts, Melody Maker, 1976.

He is so dominating in teenage culture not only because he knows so many more things than his rivals, but because he understands how to exploit them to stay ahead, if only instinctively.
© Michael Watts, 1976.

Bowie on stage is almost too cerebral for my tastes, and not enough animal, which is where Jagger’s appeal really lies.
© Michael Watts, 1976.

Over the last year I’ve become a businessman. I used to think an artist had to separate himself from business matters, but now I realise you have more artistic freedom if you also keep an eye on business.
© Bowie, 1976.

The only thing I know I want is to be Prime Minister of England one day.
© Bowie, 1976.

I find that I have to put myself in those situations to produce any reasonably good writing.
© Bowie, 1977.

He also provided the impetus for kids to dye their hair fantasy colours like blue, green, scarlet and purple – colours that human hair has never achieved unaided – to wear clothes based on Flash Gordon comics and thirties movies, to be exactly what they wanted to be and screw reality, Jack !
© Charles Shaar Murray, 1977.

All my travelling is done strictly in the basis of wanting to get my ideas from writing from real events rather than from going back to the system from whence it came. I’m very wary of listening to much music.
© Bowie, 1977.

I don’t live anywhere. I have never got around to getting myself a piece of land, putting up a house on it and saying : This is mine, this is home. If I did that, that would just about ruin everything. I don’t think I’d ever write anything again.
© Bowie, 1977.

I must have complete freedom from bases. If I ever had anything that resembled a base -like a flat with a long lease or anything- I felt so incredibly trapped.
© Bowie, 1977.

I have to pick a city with friction in it. It has to be a city that I don’t know how it works. I’ve got to be at odds with it. As soon as I feel comfortable, I can’t write in it any more.
© Bowie, 1979.

Each album was fairly successful at illustrating the particular era, or sort of photographing the time I was in. It was like a musical time photograph. I’d like to look back at my albums through the Seventies and think that I had a little set of photographs of time capsules about what each year was like.
© Bowie, 1979.