We all start somewhere. That’s the mantra we say to ourselves when looking at the best and brightest of the world. At one point in time, all our icons and leaders were in nappies, being changed, wetting the bed and making childish mistakes—some still are. But there’s one man whose sheer otherworldliness had always had him pegged as something different: David Bowie. However, the self-proclaimed “collector of personalities” was, before all else, just a young boy named David Robert Jones and here we take a look at the boy before he became the Starman.
Terry Blythe, a former schoolfriend of Bowie’s described the young David Jones very affectionately. “He was a very bright guy, but he never applied himself, he was fairly good at art, but overall he tended to wander through. He was a butterfly. I was old-fashioned and could knuckle down and do the job. He was the opposite to that. There was a creative spirit, but no-one could’ve guessed where it was headed.”
It’s a trait the artist would take into his work. Consistently fluttering between looks, personas, costumes, music genres, and artistic pursuits, Bowie made his name on his artistic nature, something that may have come from his parents. His father John ran a nightclub while his mother Peggy sang professionally. All this culminated in David following his passion and becoming a singer, but it probably wouldn’t have happened had he not seen Elvis Presley’s hit ‘Hound Dog’. He would later recall
“I had never seen [my cousin] get up and be moved so much by anything. It really impressed me, the power of the music. I started getting records immediately after that. My mother bought me Fats Domino’s Blueberry Hill the next day. And then I fell in love with the Little Richard band. I never heard anything that lived in such bright colours in the air. It really just painted the whole room for me.”
This love of rock and roll would only be matched by Jazz. Following his half-brother Terry Burns introducing Bowie to John Coltrane and Miles Davis, Peggy Jones would buy David a plastic alto saxophone. The saxophone coupled with his love of Elvis would lead Bowie down a myriad of musical avenues. Just one year after receiving the sax he would receive another of Bowie’s iconic traits.
In 1962 a fellow pupil at Bromley Technical High School hit David in the face with his left eye begin damaged. The pupil of the eye would remain permanently dilated and provide Bowie with an extraterrestrial look that no other could match. It, alongside bags of talent and songwriting nous, would propel him into the stratosphere of music and put him at the top of the pile when anyone thinks of a true artist.
But before all of that could happen, and despite numerous claims of his alien tendencies, David Bowie was just a boy. A boy with the same cheeky smile and sparkling eyes that would captivate generations to come. Take a look below.