David Bowie’s passing last year – along with his astonishing final album, Blackstar – has led to a flurry of renewed interest in the pop godhead. This comic biography looks back to the transitional period where the young David made the transformation from long-haired folkie to pioneering glam god. It is, effectively, Bowie Begins.
Nejib tells his tale from the point of view of the titular building, now demolished, then a grandiose old pile falling into decreptitude – and cheap enough for Bowie and his first wife, Angie, to move into. The young dude had already penned ‘Space Oddity’ but the song had yet to reach ubiquity (that would come when it was attached to footage of the 1969 moon landing when broadcast in the UK) and he was growing increasingly weary of his many unsuccessful knocks on the door of fame. A series of encounters – and a wild makeover courtesy of Angie – changes all of that...
The book isn’t a straight biography. Nejib conflates, merges and, occasionally, plain makes up events (no, as far as we’re aware Syd Barrett never lived with Dave and Ange), but this is a wittily told tale. Nejib has a great sense of space and architecture, even if his characters are occasionally a little hard to tell apart. There are some powerful moments of pathos, too, with Terry Burns – David’s schizophrenic half-brother – occasionally popping by. The popular image of Bowie in this period is of the ice-cold sex god, casually shagging and drugging his way through stardom, but Haddon Hall does a fine job of reminding us of the man as well as the myth. Will Salmon
This is where the magic happened. More or less.