PLAYBOY: He was once a scruffy, honey-haired folk singer. Then an adamantly bisexual balladeer. Then a spacey, cropped-red-haired androgynous guitarist backed by a band called the Spiders from Mars. Then a soul singer. Then a movie actor … and finally, a smartly conservative, entertainer. David Bowie, it’s safe to say, would do anything to make it. And how that he has made it, he’ll do anything to stay there.
At 29, David Bowie is far more than another rock star. He is a self-designed media manipulator who knows neither tact nor intimidation. There is but one objective to his bizarrely eclectic rear-attention. Without it, he would surely wither and die. Before a crowd of paying customers, if possible.
In April 1975, Bowie splashily announced he had given up on rock. “I’ve rocked my roll,” is the way he put it. “It’s a boring dead end. There will be no more rock and roll records or tours from me. The last thing I want to be is some useless fucking rock singer.” That was the second time he’d made such a statement. He had first announced a rock retirement during his encore at a huge outdoor London concert in 1973, after which he went on to release “Diamond Dogs” and to book a three-month American tour.
This time, Bowie ate his words of farewell even more spectacularly. Last November, he arranged an interview by satellite from his Los Angeles home with England’s most popular talk-show host Russel Harty to explain that he had a new album of double-fisted rock and roll, Station To Station. What’s more, Bowie rambled on, he would soon embarking on a six-month worldwide concert blitz. The government of Spain, meanwhile, demanded emergency use of the satellite to tell the world that Generalissimo Franco had died, Bowie, always the bad boy, refused to give it up. MORE