Off The Record: David Bowie

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Off the Record is a new in-depth music biography series that profiles the extraordinary life of an iconic artist over the course of each season. Music journalist Jordan Runtagh (People, Rolling Stone, EW and VH1) offers a revelatory look at the human behind the hits through rich, dramatic storytelling, extensive research, and interviews with those who knew them best. You know the songs, now meet the legends.  

Episode Date
Chapter Twelve: Heathen (1988-2004)
Today we’re looking at Bowie the Rock ‘n’ Roll Elder Statesman. Throughout the ‘90s, he continued to change and challenge, inspiring new generations with his work. Far be it from David to go gently into middle age. In this era, he produced later-career gems like '1. Outside,' 'The Buddha of Suburbia' and 'Heathen,' reconvening with creative partners like Brian Eno and Tony Visconti. But more than ever, he enjoyed life outside of the spotlight. David had a second chance at marriage and fatherhood, and was deliriously happy in both. He’d faced his demons and won. Now he faced his own mortality. And that would be a much more difficult battle. Learn more about your ad-choices at
Apr 19, 2021
'LABYRINTH' WEEK: Muppet Icon Steve Whitmire Recalls His Time on Set with Bowie, and His 26 Years as Kermit the Frog
Today’s ‘Labyrinth’ Week guest is puppeteer Steve Whitmire, who performed several characters in this beloved film — including one of the fiery figures in the “Chilly Down” dance sequence, and (my favorite) Ambrosius, the trusty dog of Sir Didymus. But these roles, impressive though they are, are just a minuscule part of his resume. If you know anything about Muppet history, then this man needs no introduction. For 26 years he was the voice and soul of Kermit the Frog. And don’t forget Ernie (of Bert and Ernie fame), Rizzo the Rat, Bean Bunny, Wembley Fraggle, Statler (of Statler and Waldorf fame), Beaker — the list goes on and on. Jordan spoke with Steve about the Muppets, the cosmic philosophy of puppetry, whether or not it’s actually easy being green, and, of course, his unforgettable encounters with Bowie on the set of ‘Labyrinth.’ Learn more about your ad-choices at
Apr 14, 2021
'LABYRINTH' WEEK: Conceptual Designer Brian Froud on Creating the World of Goblin City — and Jareth's Notorious Pants
This week on 'Off the Record,' we're playing special tribute to Jim Henson's 1986 film 'Labyrinth,' the beloved cult classic that introduced David Bowie to generations of kids. We're kicking off the festivities with conceptual designer Brian Froud, the man who imagined world of 'Labyrinth.' A legendary illustrator and painter, the movie began with Brian’s drawings of goblins, monsters and surreal landscapes. These visions formed the basis for the film’s script, written by Monty Python veteran Terry Jones. Brian helped oversee the construction of elaborate character puppets along with his wife Wendy, a famed sculptor and puppet maker perhaps best known for fabricating Yoda for the Star Wars series. And they were also joined on the set by their baby son Toby, the child abducted by Jareth the Goblin King (aka David Bowie). Brian put his heart, soul and firstborn into this film, so it seemed only write that we kick off 'Labyrinth' Week with him. Learn more about your ad-choices at
Apr 12, 2021
Bonus Episode: Thomas Dolby Recalls Backing David Bowie at Live Aid While a Billion People Watched
The climax of our last chapter is David Bowie’s set at Live Aid in the summer of 1985 . Our guest today was alongside him on the Live Aid stage – and in the helicopter on the nerve-wracking ride out to Wembley Stadium. His name is Thomas Dolby, and his time with Bowie is just one entry on his extremely lengthy resume. On his twitter bio, he describes himself as a recovering synth enthusiast, but even that barely scratches the surface. He’s best known as a techno-pop pioneer who helped define the sound of New Wave with albums like 'The Golden Age of Wireless' and 'The Flat Earth'.' His immortal 1982 smash “She Blinded Me with Science” seemed to predict his move into the burgeoning Silicon Valley tech sphere in the early ‘90s, when he developed innovative audio software for websites and cell phone ringtones. Between 2002 and 2012 he served as the musical director for TED conferences, and is presently on faculty at Johns Hopkins’ Peabody Institute, where he heads up the Music for New Media program.. Dolby was kind enough to share his vast musical insights about David Bowie’s work, and also his truly mind-blowing memories performing with Bowie at this historic concert for an audience of a billion people. Learn more about your ad-choices at
Apr 07, 2021
Chapter Eleven: MTV Idol (1980-1985)
Today’s episode looks at David in the ‘80s, a time that saw him grow from a famous artist to a global superstar — a one-man brand bolstered by the fresh force of MTV. David embraced the exponential growth of mass media, and shamelessly courted mass popularity with the Nile Rodgers-assisted ‘Let’s Dance.’ He got the success he craved, but it changed his reputation in a way that was irreversible. Up till then, he was the world’s most famous outsider. To all who felt marginalized or misunderstood, he had been a towering example of power, strength, grace and courage. Now, his move to the mainstream read as a rejection of those who felt othered and looked to him as their patron, voice and guardian. Bowie himself would struggle with the impact of his creative choices — was he a sell out? It was a classic case of be careful what you wish for... Learn more about your ad-choices at
Apr 05, 2021
Bonus Episode: 'Low' Engineer Edu Meyer Remembers Working with David Bowie During His Berlin Years at Hansa Studios
Our last two episodes followed David Bowie in the late ’70s as he recorded ‘Low’ and ‘Heroes,’ the twin pillars of his so-called Berlin Trilogy. (Sorry, ‘Lodger’ fans.) These records are an artistic triumph on nearly ever level, and contain the most innovative music Bowie ever made. In addition to co-producer Tony Visconti and mad musical scientist Brian Eno, another crucial collaborator during the German sessions was Edu Meyer. Edu was an engineer at Hansa Studios — the famous Hall by the Wall that served as David’s creative home during his time in Berlin. Edu helped David put the finishing touches on ‘Low,’ and even played the mournful cello part on “Weeping Wall” — inspired by the symbol of division and oppression looming just outside the studio windows. He also assisted on the album’s David produced for Iggy Pop, ‘The Idiot’ and ‘Lust for Life.’ Their working relationship stretched into the ‘80s, when David would return to Berlin to record the soundtrack to the Bertolt Brecht play ‘Baal’ in 1981, and perform his legendary 1987 concert at the Reichstag. They’d remain friends until the end of David’s life. Edu spoke to Jordan about his memories working alongside Bowie during his most creatively daring period.  Learn more about your ad-choices at
Apr 01, 2021
Chapter Ten: 'Hero' in Berlin (1977)
Today’s episode looks at Bowie’s years in Berlin. It was a time of tremendous personal and artistic growth as the newly minted 30-year-old escaped the trappings of his showiness bubble and re-entered reality. Holed up in a nondescript apartment with his friend Iggy Pop, Bowie lived a generally anonymous life in the German capital. The experience forced him to grow up and become an adult — a scary proposition for anyone involved in rock ‘n’ roll. But newfound maturity brought exciting new music, including the landmark album 'Heroes.' At the end of the decade he’d dominated, David built on all he’d learned through the many characters he’d played. Now he was ready to move forward as himself. But the transformation would be a difficult one, as he says some painful goodbyes. Learn more about your ad-choices at
Mar 29, 2021
Bonus Episode: Guitar Great Earl Slick Recalls 'Station to Station' Sessions and His 40 Year Odyssey with David Bowie
Our latest chapter chronicles The Thin White Duke, David Bowie’s most infamous and unsettling character. He makes his grand entrance on the title track to Bowie’s landmark 1976 album ‘Station to Station.’ Today we’re visited by Mr. Earl Slick, the man response for much of the album’s incendiary guitar work. Earl is a bonafide rock legend, and Bowie is just a part of his remarkable resume. That’s him on John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s ‘Double Fantasy,’ and he’s also played with David Coverdale, Robert Smith, Ian Hunter, and so many others. He was just 21 when he got the gig to join Bowie on 1974’s Diamond Dogs tour, filling the lead guitar role recently vacated by Mick Ronson. He went on to become one of Bowie’s go-to guitarists and most frequent collaborators, playing on ‘Young Americans,’ Station to Station,’ ‘Heathen’ ‘Reality,’ and ‘The Next Day.’ He also performed with Bowie onstage for an incalculable number of live gigs spanning thirty years. Jordan spoke to Earl about Bowie, the Beatles — and lots and lots of guitars. Learn more about your ad-choices at
Mar 24, 2021
Chapter Nine: The Thin White Duke (1976)
Today’s chapter is a portrait at The Thin White Duke, the manifestation of megalomania and paranoia that gripped David Bowie at his personal low. Among his most frightening creations, the icy character unveiled on the title track to 1976’s ‘Station to Station’ is the physical embodiment of the drug abuse and psychic darkness that threatened to destroy him following years of mired in the toxic hedonism of Hollywood. Thankfully, he would rescue himself from these dire circumstances and move back in Europe, ultimately settling in Berlin along with his friend (and fellow substance abuser) Iggy Pop. The city would be both his savior and muse, providing the right environment to purge the noxious influences of Los Angeles and foster some of his most daring musical achievements. With help from longtime co-producer Tony Visconti and new friend/synth enthusiast Brian Eno, Bowie abandoned the flashy theatricality of his past and rewrote his musical language — fusing his beloved R&B with the proto-techno sounds of German bands like of Neu! and Kraftwerk. The result, ‘Low,’ would rank among his greatest work, kicking off a stunning string of albums later dubbed ‘The Berlin Trilogy.’ But more impressive than his musical reinvention was his personal one. David curbed his drug use and enjoyed an anonymous life that approached a healthy sense of normalcy. “Berlin was my clinic,” he said years later. “It brought me back in touch with people. It got me back on the streets; not the street where everything is cold and there’s drugs, but the streets where there were young, intelligent people trying to get along.” The city had rescued him from the almost certain oblivion. Not only was Bowie growing leaps and bounds as an artist, but he was also making his first tentative steps towards peace.  Learn more about your ad-choices at
Mar 22, 2021
Bonus Episode: Rock Legend Glenn Hughes Remembers Living with David Bowie During His Wild 'Station to Station' Era in 1975 Hollywood
Our latest chapter of ‘Off The Records’ delves into a dark era for David Bowie: the months spent in Los Angeles in 1975. Famously subsisting on a diet of cocaine, milk and red peppers, he stayed awake for days at a time, driving himself to the brink of sanity through malnutrition and sleep deprivation. “It was a dangerous period for me,” David would later say. “I was at the end of my tether physically and emotionally and had serious doubts about my sanity.” But from the depths of his personal hell, he produced the landmark ‘Station to Station,’ an album that most fans rank among the best work he ever made.  For the first few months of his stay, David lived with his friend Glenn Hughes, a rock icon in his own right. Glenn was in the midst of his tenure as the bass player for Deep Purple. They’d met in Hollywood the previous year, when the band was recording their hard rock epic ‘Stormbringer’ and David was in town to perform his Diamond Dogs extravaganza. The pair hit it off and stayed in touch. When David made the move from New York to LA to make his feature film debut in ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth’ a few months later, he decided to stay with Hughes to keep a low profile. The excesses of the period have gone down in rock lore. Witches exorcising pool. Phantom falling bodies. Nazi news reels on loop. Thankfully, both men made it out of the grips of addiction. David decamped to Berlin to push his music boundaries with albums like ‘Low’ and ‘Heroes.’ (But we’ll get to that.) Glenn Hughes continued to enjoy a remarkable run in Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, the supergroup Black Country Communion, and a host of solo projects. Most recently, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famer joined the group the Dead Daisies, who released their latest album ‘Holy Ground’ in January. Jordan spoke to Glenn about his new music and his time as David Bowie’s housemate back in 1975. Learn more about your ad-choices at
Mar 17, 2021
Chapter Eight: Cracked Actor (1975)
At the height of his fame in the mid-'70s, David Bowie battled his deepest demons in the City of Angels. After a costly split from his management company, he found himself adrift in Hollywood, driving himself to the brink of sanity with a diet of cocaine, milk and red peppers. Time passed in a breakneck blur as Bowie stayed up for three or four days at a stretch. The mix of sleep deprivation and drugs drove into a state almost indistinguishable from psychosis,. His grasp on reality slipping, he lost himself in paranoid delusions and obsessions with paranormal phenomena.. Bowie would remember few specifics of the period — just disturbing emotional impressions. Over the course of his days-long bouts of consciousness, his world would transform into “a bizarre nihilistic fantasy of oncoming doom, mythological characters and imminent totalitarianism.” It was the low point of his life, and nearly the end of it. Somehow, in the midst of this personal nadir, he pulled himself back from the edge of oblivion, filming his defining movie role, and recording an album that many consider a masterpiece: 'Station to Station.' Learn more about your ad-choices at
Mar 15, 2021
Bonus Episode: Ava Cherry Reflects on Her Life as David Bowie's Muse in the Mid '70s ‘Golden Years’
In our latest chapter, David Bowie went from Starman to Soulman, trading high concept sci-fi tales and glam rock for the music that had enthralled him as a boy — rhythm and blues. David’s renewed love of R&B was stoked by his new girlfriend at the time, a striking young model and burgeoning singer named Ava Cherry. They’d met at a party in early 1973 and quickly hit it off. As she would later say, their romance had all the hallmarks of a fairy tale — strolls in Paris, nights in an elegant castle, cheering crowds, celebrity friends and lots of great songs. Sounds almost like a Disney movie — except for the fact that David was still technically married to his wife, Angie. That part’s a little different. Ava acted as Bowie’s guide through the American soul scene, fulfilling his lifelong dream by bringing him to Harlem’s legendary Apollo Theater. David’s renewed passion for soul led him to Philadelphia to cut the relentlessly funky Young Americans, which featured Ava on backing vocals. She also joined him onstage as part of the so-called ‘Philly Dogs’ tour in late 1974. In addition to her role in helping shape Bowie’s musical legacy, she shared his private life — loving a side of David that few would ever get to see. Ava spoke to Jordan about her time with David, and the memories and music that they shared during those golden years in the mid '70s. Learn more about your ad-choices at
Mar 12, 2021
Bonus Episode: ‘Sigma Kid’ Patti Brett Recalls the Night She Lived Every Bowie Fan’s Fantasy in 1974
In August 1974, Patti Brett was among the throngs of supremely devoted David Bowie fans camped outside of Philadelphia’s Sigma Sound while the man himself toiled inside, undergoing his transformation from Starman to Soulman. Bowie was hard at work recording ‘Young Americans,’ the funked-out R&B album that would mark his most abrupt musical shift to date. Seeking some instant feedback on his new sound, he invited a handful of fans inside for an impromptu listening party. It was the least he could to do thank them for their unwavering dedication. Bowie sat alongside his young admirers — including Brett — as they absorbed the new tracks and danced together until dawn. The night remains one of Brett’s most cherished memories. In the latest bonus episode of ‘Off the Record,’ she recalls the unforgettable moment when her wildest fan fantasies came true. Learn more about your ad-choices at
Mar 10, 2021
Chapter Seven: Young American (1973-1974)
David Bowie arrived on U.S. shores in the spring of 1974 to launch the mammoth Diamond Dogs tour, the Broadway-style production inspired by Orwell’s 1984, and his own unnerving trip behind the Iron Curtain. The show was his most elaborate venture to date, epitomizing the dystopian drama that had made him a star. Yet as David spent more and more time in the States, he found himself reconnecting with the music that enthralled him as a young boy: American soul and R&B. This radical departure brought the risk of alienating his fans, who all but worshipped David’s sci fi characters. But with the help of some of the finest funk players of the era — plus a Beatle — it became his biggest success to date. Trading choreographed theater for genuine emotion proved to be a revelation for David, and a major artistic leap forward. But his escalating cocaine use threatened everything: his career, his marriage, and his life.  Learn more about your ad-choices at
Mar 08, 2021
Bonus Episode: Music Legend Ken Scott Recalls Co-Producing 'Ziggy Stardust,' 'Hunky Dory' and More Bowie Classics
We’re taking a quick a quick midseason break from our story this week; we’ll have the next chapter of Bowie’s life for you on Monday, March 8th! But today we have something extra special in store — a conversation with Mr. Ken Scott, the man who co-produced a string of Bowie’s most beloved albums, including Hunky Dory, Ziggy Stardust, and Aladdin Sane. For most people, that’s enough bragging rights to last a lifetime, yet it’s just a small part of Ken’s legendary career. On his first day as an engineer at EMI’s Abbey Road Studios, he was enlisted to assist a little band called the Beatles. (No pressure, right?). The list of names he’s worked with reads like a roll call for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame: Elton John, Lou Reed, Jeff Beck, Harry Nilsson, Supertramp, Devo, Duran Duran, Procol Harum — and, of course, Bowie. His 2012 memoir, Abbey Road to Ziggy Stardust, provides illuminating insights on how these classics came together in the studio. Tune in as Ken goes deep with Jordan on making some of Bowie’s best.  Learn more about your ad-choices at
Mar 01, 2021
Bonus Episode: Tony Zanetta Reflects on His Wild Days on the Road as Bowie’s ‘Ziggy’-era Tour Manager and MainMan President
Tony Zanetta is a crucial figure in New York’s experimental downtown drama scene of late '60s and early ‘70s. He first entered David Bowie’s orbit as a cast member of Andy Warhol's play ‘Pork’ in 1971 (co-starring with last week's guest, Cherry Vanilla.) Soon he would be swept up in the whirlwind of David's management company, MainMan, headed up by Bowie's larger than life manager, Tony DeFries. In practice, the organization was more like an elaborate performance piece than a strict bottom-line business. This may explain way DeFries hired Zanetta to be MainMan's president despite his total lack of business experience. Zanetta would later be drafted into a much more demanding role as David's tour manager, overseeing the treks for Ziggy Stardust and Diamond Dogs. Keeping the show on the road and the egos in check, all with a daily operating budget of close to zero dollars? It wasn’t a job for the faint of heart! Zanetta spoke to Jordan about those thrilling days on tour with David, as his star soared to new heights — and how everything changed in an instant. Learn more about your ad-choices at
Feb 24, 2021
Chapter Six: Aladdin Sane (1972-1973)
The American sibling of Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane was born on the road as David Bowie embarked on his triumphant first tour of the United States. With his face bisected by his trademark lightning bolt, the character reflects an artist coming apart at the seams. It seemed like everything David had worked towards was coming through, yet he felt more confused than ever. His finances were a mess. His marriage was beginning to disintegrate. He was exhausted — mentally, physically and spiritually. The multiple identities he had crafted originally brought him personal and creative freedom. Now they threatened to tear him in two. As the name suggests, Aladdin Sane is a troubling self-portrait of a man on the edge. To pull himself back from the abyss, he’d had to take his biggest risk to date, and kill off his most beloved creation.  Learn more about your ad-choices at
Feb 22, 2021
Bonus Episode: Warhol Superstar Cherry Vanilla Opens Up About Her Friendship with David Bowie and Helping Launch Ziggy Stardust
Ziggy Stardust wouldn’t have been the same without the help of David Bowie’s new friends from the cast of Andy Warhol’s play, ‘Pork.’ The groundbreaking avant garde theatrical production shocked audiences by taking aim at pretty much every social taboo you could imagine — and maybe a few you can't. David loved it, but he loved the cast even more. He was entranced by their bold style, an unmissable blend of gritty New York street and gaudy old Hollywood glamor. They, in turn, appreciated David's own brand of artistic fearlessness. In short, they were kindred spirts.  The ‘Pork’ crowd would have a marked effect on David's life and career, changing his relationship to performance and inspiring him to new creative heights. They also had a hand in launching him into the pop stratosphere. David's manager, Tony Defries, tapped the Warholites to head up the New York office of his management company, MainMan. Though few had any actual business experience, they made it work.  In the latest bonus episode of 'Off the Record,' Jordan spoke to genuine Warhol superstar and alternative arts scene legend, Ms. Cherry Vanilla. After starring in the London production of ‘Pork,’ she was hired to work at MainMan as Bowie's public relations manager. Unlike most of her Warhol compatriots, she actually had a substantial professional background, having worked in the real-life ‘Mad Men’ world of advertising in the mid-'60s. The experience would come in handy when hyping David to the world. It was she who crafted some of the enduring myths and tall tales that surround his legend to this day. For a glorious stretch in the early '70s, she and David were friends, lovers and artistic comrades.  Learn more about your ad-choices at
Feb 17, 2021
Chapter Five: Ziggy Stardust (1971-1972)
At last, a starman is born. The arrival of Ziggy Stardust brought David Bowie the fame he'd been working towards for nearly a decade. Fusing innovative fashion, avant-garde theatrical flair, far out sci-fi and killer song craft, he transformed rock 'n' roll into concept art. But he didn't do it alone. The latest installment explores the genesis of Bowie's most iconic creation, with influences ranging from Warholian speed freaks to teen idol burnouts to '50s pulp TV shows and a cult American country act. Once Ziggy arrived, Bowie's life was changed forever. So were millions of others. Find out how the album 'The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars' touched every aspect of popular culture, including music, film, fashion, social and sexual mores, and the very nature of fame itself. Note: This episode should be played at maximum volume.  Learn more about your ad-choices at
Feb 15, 2021
Bonus Episode: Michael Oberman Recalls Hosting David Bowie on His First Night in America in 1971
The latest chapter of ‘Off the Record’ opens with David Bowie’s first trip to the United States in January of 1971. The arrival was a triumph for David — until he was detained by customs officials for his feminine clothes. He received a warmer welcome Ron Oberman, his press agent set to greet him by his label, Mercury Records. Ron was joined by his entire family — his mom, his dad, and his younger brother, music journalist Michael Oberman. The Oberman’s welcomed the young, unknown singer into their family, sharing their suburban home and taking him out for a meal at a local steakhouse.  David’s first night in the States has gone down in Bowie legend as an important early step in his journey to global superstardom. The trip is the plot of a new film, Stardust, a movie that has been deemed controversial for its liberal reinterpretation of historical events. Ron Oberman, an instrumental force in Bowie’s early career, died in 2019. But his brother Michael recounted the famous visit in his new book, Fast Forward, Play and Rewind. A memoir of sorts, the book also collects Michael’s interviews with over a hundred rock legends ranging from Janis Joplin and James Brown to the Doors, Jefferson Airplane, Leon Russell, Emitt Rhodes, Little Feat — and of course David.  Jordan spoke with Michael about his remarkable career as a music journalist, and that special night with David Bowie in his parents living room back in 1971.  Learn more about your ad-choices at
Feb 10, 2021
Chapter Four: Pretty Thing (1969–1971)
At the dawn of the decade he’d grow to dominate, David Bowie found himself in low spirits. His first taste of fame with “Space Oddity” was not so sweet, and he seemed in danger of becoming that most sorry of acts: a one hit wonder. As his music career floundered, he grew closer to Angie Barnett, his girlfriend and creative co-conspirator. Their marriage in 1970 was one of the wilder rock unions, characterized by mutual ambition and sexual exploration. At Angie’s encouragement, David began to experiment with gender roles, shocking the public with his feminine appearance, makeup and “man dresses.” It was a time of constant transition for Bowie as the ‘60s became the ‘70s. In just two years he’d bury his father and become one himself. Musically, he’d morph from a sci-fi loving space hippie and into the androgynous Godfather of Glam. He established his singular songwriting style with 1971’s irrepressibly tuneful Hunky Dory, which contained his personal anthem of the era: “Changes” — changes in looks, sounds, homes, management, and partnerships. But the most transformative experience would be his first visit to the United States. The trip opened up a whole new realm of ideas, leading to David’s greatest artistic breakthrough. Learn more about your ad-choices at
Feb 08, 2021
Bonus Episode: Mary Finnigan Reflects on Life as Bowie’s Lover, Landlady and Arts Lab Co-Founder in the 'Psychedelic Suburbia' of 1969
Our latest chapter followed David Bowie in the late ‘60s — a thrilling, colorful time when his creativity soared to new heights. After half a decade of near constant rejection from the mainstream music industry, David had started to rebel. Instead of chasing pop hits, he embraced the avant garde arts scene that was beginning to blossom in London. A key figure in David’s life was Mary Finnigan, his friend, lover and (somewhat unusually) his landlady. A journalist by day, Mary was deeply involved with the London underground scene, a vibrant community of artists and activists looking to shake the populace out of their spiritual complacency. Together, she and David formed a folk club at a local pub called the Three Tuns. Later known as the Beckenham Arts Lab, the venue became a crucial incubator for Bowie, giving him a supportive and enriching environment to find his musical voice. The songs that he wrote in this period would find their way onto breakthrough albums like Space Oddity, The Man Who Sold the World, and Hunky Dory. Mary recorded her electrifying period with Bowie in a 2016 memoir, Psychedelic Suburbia. She speaks to Jordan about Bowie the lodger, Bowie the Buddhist, Bowie the boyfriend — and much more. Learn more about your ad-choices at
Feb 03, 2021
Chapter Three: Major Tom (1966-1969)
Frustrated by his stalled pop career and emboldened by the creative daring of the psychedelic era, David Bowie begins to embrace more experimental art forms. Mime, movement, avant garde theater and film acting all serve as fascinating artistic detours, and he expands his mind with Tibetan Buddhism. But his first heartbreak makes him feel more alone and adrift than ever, inspiring a song about an astronaut drifting into the black abyss of space. Fusing science fiction with his innermost feelings, “Space Oddity” became his breakthrough hit. But one of David’s biggest supporters — his father — wouldn’t be there to share in the triumph.  Learn more about your ad-choices at
Feb 01, 2021
Bonus Episode: Phil Lancaster Recalls the Pranks, Girls, and Backstage Drama of Bowie's Early Band, the Lower Third
Our latest chapter focused on teenage David Bowie as he struggled for fame in the mid '60s. It was a frustrating period for the wannabe rockstar — a time of high hopes and repeated failures as he fronted a string of short-lived bands that followed in the wake of the Beatles and the Stones. David leapfrogged from group to group, hoping he'd find the right one to catapult him to success, but none ever made an impact on the charts. The strongest of Bowie's early bands was a group called the Lower Third. Though they were together for less than a year, they released the best of David's early songs. During his time in the group, David experimented with their setlist, stage presentation, and even makeup. There was also a more important metamorphosis — it was while fronting the Lower Third that David changed his surname from Jones to Bowie. Jordan speaks to Phil Lancaster, David's bandmate and author of the book 'From the Birth of Bowie.' From his vantage point on the Lower Third's drum kit, he watched a legend taking shape.  Learn more about your ad-choices at
Jan 29, 2021
Bonus Episode: Dana Gillespie Remembers Her Teenage Romance with Bowie and Life as a Swinging Sixties 'It Girl'
Our latest chapter followed young David Bowie as he struggled to find his place in the Mod music scene of swinging sixties London. It was an exciting yet frustrating time for him as he fronted a lengthy list of doomed R&B bands — so close, yet so far from headliners like the Beatles, the Who and the Rolling Stones. Jordan spoke to one of David’s closest friends during that crucial learning period — Dana Gillespie, the legendary British blues singer whose career spans more than 70 albums. Her new memoir, Weren’t Born A Man, is a fascinating look at her astonishing life at the center of the entertainment scene in the ‘60s and ‘70s. It’s filled with tales of wild times with Bob Dylan, Elton John, Jimmy Page, Michael Caine, Sean Connery, and so many more. But back in 1964, Dana was just another teenage music hopeful. Just like David. They shared songs, laughter, beds (on occasion), and unforgettable memories of a time when they were just starting out and the Fab Four ruled the land.  Learn more about your ad-choices at
Jan 27, 2021
Chapter Two: The London Boy (1962-1966)
At the peak of the Swinging Sixties, young David Jones remained on the fringe of the London music scene, watching bands like the Beatles, the Stones, the Who and the Kinks have all the fun. In just a few short years, the teenager fronted a lengthy list of short-lived groups, all destined to vanish without a trace. His first recordings flopped, and he faced ridicule and humiliation at nearly every turn. It was the most frustrating time in his life as he navigated the sharks and hucksters keen to rip off young hopefuls. To blow off steam, he partied all night with the sharp-dressed, pilled-up, sexually adventurous Mod kids. But trailing the pack of pop stars ultimately had an advantage. It allowed David to study them intently, reverse engineering the image and affectations that came to them naturally. By trying out different voices, he’d ultimately find his own. He’d also adopt a new name — Bowie.  Learn more about your ad-choices at
Jan 25, 2021
Bonus Episode: Bowie's Best Friend George Underwood Recalls Their Childhood, Early Bands and That Famous Punch
Each chapter of 'Off the Record' will be followed by a bonus episode featuring interviews with real life figures from that week's installment. To kick things off, Jordan spoke to George Underwood, the renowned visual artist and David's childhood best friend. David and George were inseparable throughout their youth. These guys went to school together, played their first concerts together, saw Little Richard live and in person together, and chatted up girls together. This last factor would cause a bit a problem, sparking their one and only fight. The teenage tussle resulted in David's distinctive eye injury, but their friendship endured. In fact, David would later thank George for his trademark feature! George got David into his first band, the Konrads, and they also played together in a mid-'60s R&B combo called the King Bees. He later accompanied David on his first American tour and helped designed some of his most iconic album covers. They remained close for the rest of David's life. Learn more about your ad-choices at
Jan 18, 2021
Chapter One: David Jones (1947–1962)
Who is David Bowie? To answer that question, you’ll have to meet little David Jones, the shy boy growing up in grey, postwar Britain. Grappling with a troubled home life, young David becomes transfixed by science fiction and rock ’n’ roll. A painful family secret spurs him to reject his drab suburban life in favor of beat poetry and free jazz. The vibrant, rebellious artistry inspires him to try his hand at making music of his own. On the series premiere of ‘Off the Record,’ we’ll explore the confluence of influences that formed David’s unique creative vision, and instilled in him the drive to conquer the rock world — and remake it in his own image.  Learn more about your ad-choices at
Jan 18, 2021
'Off the Record: David Bowie' — Trailer
The series premiere of 'Off the Record' explores the life — or, rather, lives — of David Bowie by examining each of his iconic personas. Major Tom. Ziggy Stardust. Aladdin Sane. The Thin White Duke. Taken collectively, these faces form a portrait of a one-of-a-kind rock legend. Follow his transformation from lonely London boy struggling to find his way in the Swinging Sixties to cultural innovator, whose relentless drive and daring nearly destroyed him. You know the songs, now meet the man. The 11-part season begins Monday, January 18th!  Learn more about your ad-choices at
Jan 10, 2021