19 David Bowie facts you possibly didn’t know

David Bowie in the Man who fell to Earth
How many of these David Bowie facts did you know?

David Bowie has passed away aged 69 after an 18 month battle against cancer.

In memory of the Thin White Duke, here are 11 Bowie facts you might not have known:

1. David Bowie changed his name to avoid confusion with Davy Jones of the Monkees

Bowie changed his name from David Robert Jones to avoid being confused with the British frontman of The Monkees.

The Monkees
Davy Jones (left) and the rest of The Monkees

2. He was a teenage friend of Elton John

A 17 year old David Jones (Bowie) enjoyed regular meets to talk about music with his friend Reginald Kenneth Dwight (Elton John) at the Soho’s Giaconda Cafe.

Elton John in Norway
Elton John and David Bowie were teenage friends. Photo: Ernst Vikne (used under the Creative Commons licence)

3. David Bowie only had one O-Level

Before GCSE’s there were O-Levels, and Bowie achieved just a solitary qualification at Bromley Technical High School in art.

4. The pub where David Bowie launched his career is now a Zizzi restaurant

David Bowie launched his career at historical music venue The Three Tuns on High Street in Beckenham is now a branch of Italian restaurant chain Zizzi.

David Bowie sign at The Three Tuns
A sign on the wall of the Zizzi restaurant which used to be the Three Tuns where David Bowie launched his career

5. David Bowie released the first downloadable single

David Bowie’s ‘Telling Lies’ was made available for download on his website in 1996, making it the first downloadable single from a major artist. At the time, it would have taken approximately 11 minutes to download using dial-up speed internet.

6. David Bowie set up the his own Internet Service Provider

David Bowie set up his own internet service provider (ISP) called BowieNet in 1998, costing £10 a month, with each user given a free 20MB to make their own homepage. Users were also given loads of bonus Bowie content, such as exclusive web chats and bonus tracks. The service closed in 2012.

7. He voiced a character in a Spongebob Squarepants movie

Bowie provided the voice of the long-nosed, blue-skinned, stiletto-sporting Atlantean King “Lord Royal Highness” in the 2007 animated TV movie SpongeBob’s Atlantis SquarePantis.

David Bowie in Spongebob Squarepants
David Bowie voiced “Lord Royal Highness” in Spongebob Squarepants

8. David Bowie appeared in over 25 movies during his life

As well as appearing in Spongebob Squarepants, Bowie appeared in over 25 films throughout his life, including The Man Who Fell To Earth as Thomas Jerome Newton, Labyrinth as Jareth the Goblin King, Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence as Major Jack ‘Strafer’ Celliers, The Last Temptation of Christ as Pontius Pilate, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me as Phillip Jeffries, Basquiat as artist Andy Warhol, and The Prestige as inventor Nikola Tesla.

9. David Bowie almost starred alongside Michael Caine in The Eagle Has Landed

Scheduling conflicts meant Bowie was unable to appear in The Eagle Has Landed, despite reportedly being keen and he also nearly starred alongside Elizabeth Taylor in the 1976 film Bluebird but backed out after reading the script.

10. David Bowie was nominated for an MTV movie award for his cameo in Zoolander

In Ben Stiller’s 2001 comedy movie Zoolander, Bowie pops up to judge a “walk off” between warring models Derek Zoolander (Stiller) and Hansel McDonald (Owen Wilson).

11. David Bowie shared his birthday with Elvis Presley

Bowie was born on the 8th January 1947, exactly 12 years after rock and roll legend Elvis Presley.

12. The 1969 Moon landing made David Bowie famous

In the very early days of his career, the BBC played ‘Space Oddity’ over its footage of the moon landing. It went on to be his first UK number 1 six years later.

13. David Bowie refused a knighthood and CBE

Bowie was offered a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in 2000 and a knighthood in 2003, but rejected both.

14. He visited Kenya in 1978

During his 1978 World Tour, Bowie stopped off in Kenya in March before departing for Heathrow Airport and then flying on to the States for rehearsals.

David Bowie in Kenya in 1978
David Bowie on holiday in Kenya in March 1978 with two Maasai tribe warriors

15. David Bowie refused to drink English tea

A five-year-old Bowie, was taken on a River Thames boat by his parents during which he drank some tea that had been stewing for seven years. It tasted so disgusting, he refused to drink a cup of English tea since although he was partial to Japanese green tea.

16. David Bowie’s eyes were the SAME colour

Contrary to popular believe, David Bowie’s eyes were exactly the same shade of blue, but looked different due to a permanently dilated pupil. This happened during his school days when during a fight over a girl, his friend and artist George Underwood punched him in the eye.

17. David Bowie has a spider named after him

The Heteropoda davidbowie is a bright orange Malaysian huntsman spider, named in honour of the singer.

Heteropoda David Bowie spider
The Heteropoda davidbowie spider. Photo by Seshadri K.S. (used under the Creative Commons Licence)

18. David Bowie was once stalked by a 5’3″ rabbit

During his 2004 North American tour in 2004, Bowie was stalked by someone in a pink rabbit costume.

19. A lot of people pronounce David Bowie’s name wrong

His surname Bowie is meant to rhyme with Joey, not Howie.