One of the great chameleons of contemporary pop music, David Bowie has long displayed a gift for remaking his image to suit his creative needs, which, when coupled with an approach that carried far more intellectual and creative weight than that of the average rock star, made him a better candidate than most musicians to become a solid screen actor. While David Bowie never graduated into a full-fledged movie star, over the years he has established himself as a gifted (if idiosyncratic) thespian with a taste for offbeat projects.
David Bowie was born David Robert Jones in the multi-cultural working-class city of Brixton, England on January 8, 1947. Jones developed an interest in creative matters early on, and picked up the saxophone at age 13. At 16, Jones left school and began a career as a commercial artist, while singing and playing sax with rock bands in his spare time. By 1966, Jones had recorded singles with three different combos, none of which fared well commercially, when he decided to set out on his own as a solo act; he also took on the stage name David Bowie to avoid confusion with Davy Jones, who had just become an international star with the pre-fab pop group the Monkees. After recording an unsuccessful solo album, Bowie dropped out of the music business for a spell and began to study mime with Lindsay Kemp; in 1969, Bowie even formed his own mime troupe, Feathers, as well as an experimental art ensemble, the Beckenham Arts Lab. Neither was a sure moneymaker by any stretch of the imagination, so Bowie signed a deal to record another album, which included an offbeat number called "Space Odyssey." Around the same time, Bowie made his screen-acting debut with a very small part in the film The Virgin Soldiers; that same year, he also appeared in an obscure experimental film called The Image, as well a promotional reel called David Bowie: Love You Till Tuesday, which remained unseen until the early 1970s; the film includes footage of Bowie playing his music and performing with the Feathers group.