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New Bowie bio heavy on the juicy bits'

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British author Wendy Leigh's new David Bowie biography certainly appears to offer a deluge of sordid drug and sex-fueled debauchery, but I'm not sure how much actual rock and roll there is to be found between the covers.

I have not read 'Bowie: The Biography' (Simon & Schuster) and admitted that fact to Leigh at the outset of my interview with her, scheduled two days earlier. After reading excerpts of the book via several online U.K. tabloids along with a few garish abridgements published elsewhere, I surmised that it was more of a 'gossipy tell-all' than an all-embracing chronicle. Leigh says that isn't a fair summary.

Surprisingly, Leigh admitted to me that she was 'not particularly' a fan of Bowie's music before setting out to write her book. She says she became captivated by Bowie's story as she researched his life and interviewed many of his past associates.

Bowie fans seeking a balanced account of his life and career on record, stage and screen would be better served by David Buckley's epic 'Strange Fascination,' published in 2001. Those looking for a bio heavy on the 'juicy bits' all of which Leigh says are true may enjoy 'Bowie: The Biography.'

Dow: The excerpts that I've read from your book focus more on the salacious side of David's past. In other words, the emphasis seems to be on sex and drugs and the rock and roll comes last. Would you say that's a fair representation of your book?

Leigh: No, not really. My book is very much about David 'the man.' Certainly, there is a lot (in the book) about his career. For example, I interviewed John Bloom really the first man to discover Bowie and the one who introduced him to his first manager. I interviewed Tony Zanetta, the president of David's production company - MainMan. He knew David more than well and had a night with him. Actually he had a night with DavidandAngie (Bowie's wife at the time). He told me that sex, for David, was like shaking hands at the end of dinner. Absolutely there's a lot of drugs, sex and rock and roll in the book. David has been so honest that these were very much a part of his life.

I interviewed people who spent time with David both in and out of bed. Whatever David was doing, whether it was taking drugs or having wild sex, he was always a gentleman. Josette Caruso, a very famous groupie in her day, told me an amazing story of her time with Bowie. First of all, how David picked her up. She was wearing a mirrored dress. He took a look at her and said, 'I can see myself in you.' Later, in his suite, instead of treating her like dirt which is how most rock stars treat groupies David was so polite and charming. He sang to her. He introduced her to his friends. He was absolutely every inch a gentleman.

Dow: The David Bowie that we know today seems very different to the person you've just described. Do you think that is related to the fact that he stopped using drugs more than 20 years ago and has been happily married since?

Leigh: I do. David has said many times that it's a miracle that he is alive today. He consumed cocaine at an alarming level in the 1970s. Not just lines but chunks of it. The incredible thing about David is that he fell in love with (fashion model) Iman and it's an absolute fairy tale. He gave everything up and became the model husband and the model father monogamous and loving.

Dow: Your book contains some nice photos of Bowie with Elizabeth Taylor. How close were they?

Leigh: They were like amorous friends. It was at a time when David was already becoming a big star and he was staying in Beverly Hills. They did a photo shoot together (in 1975) and really clicked. After that, they spoke on the phone everyday like clockwork. I don't think it became a physical affair but it was definitely an affair of the heart.

Dow: How many people did you interview for your book?

Leigh: Almost a hundred.

Dow: Are those people still close to David?

Leigh: I don't think so. David put the word out that those close to him were not to talk with me. Perhaps David is planning to write his own story one day, which would be riveting. The people that I spoke with were extremely close to David in the day.

Dow: Your book is certainly generating controversy with some of its more shocking accounts. Are you at all worried about being sued?

Leigh: Not at all because everything is on tape and everything is true.

Dow: Were you a fan of David's music before you set out to write the book?

Leigh: Honestly, not particularly. But then I became captivated once I started researching his life and learning all about him.

'The Big Morning Show with Mike Dow' can be heard on Big 104 FM The Biggest Hits of the '60s, '70s & '80s - airing on 104.7 (Bangor/Belfast), 104.3 (Augusta/Waterville) and 107.7 (Bar Harbor/Ellsworth)

Last modified on Tuesday, 07 October 2014 22:31

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