Bowie’s career basically went through four phases. First, he struggled for almost a decade to make a name for himself as a pop star in a succession of no-hope 1960s bands: the Konrads, the King Bees, the Manish Boys, the Lower Third, the Riot Squad and the Buzz. He changed his name from Davy Jones to David Bowie, after the knife bloke, to avoid confusion with the Monkee. Next, came fame beyond imagination, from “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars album in 1972 through to a peak of popularity and commercial success in 1983 with “Let's Dance”.

Two roundly ridiculed albums followed, “Tonight” in 1984 and “Never Let Me Down” in 1987, then a nadir to outdo this nadir in Tin Machine, and more generally dismissed albums. A heart attack in 1994 ended his touring and led to a fallow decade when fans thought he had retired, before his surprise late-career resurgence with “The Next Day” in 2013 and finally “Blackstar”, released on his 69th birthday two days before his death on January 10, 2016. It was the critical acclaim lavished on these two releases that ensured Bowie exited on a high point that secured his legend.

His death and the manner of it resulted in a cascade of biographies. This one by Dylan Jones, the editor of Britain’s “GQ” magazine, is an embarrassment of encomiums. Bowie, we hear, time and time and time again, had a profound curiosity, was a pleasure to work with, avoided following trends, constantly reinvented himself, brought theatre to music and music to theatre, transcended gender, was a deeply knowledgeable autodidact, was extraordinarily smart, special, enchanting, focused, funny, etc.

Rick Wakeman (keyboardist): “David Bowie is far and away the cleverest man I’ve ever worked with. An absolute walking genius to work with… He was far ahead of the game.”

Ken Scott (producer): “He really was the best vocalist I ever worked with, and I worked with John Lennon and Paul McCartney.”

Nick Kent (journalist): “’Hunky Dory’ is up there with ‘Revolver’. If you’re talking about great records, then ‘Hunky Dory’ is a great record.”

Harry Maslin (producer): “I think David was an extremely complicated person. Usually, people in the arts are either visual or aural, and David was both. He saw things differently from most people.”

Hanif Kureishi (author): “We all loved David Bowie, He was the bridge between the old and the new.”

Roy Young (musician): “He had this quality to be able to be a different person every time you saw him.”

Bill Prince (journalist): “I quickly realised David Bowie wasn’t a regular performer. I felt there was much more going on, so much more depth and imagination than from a regular musician.”

And so on. It is all here: the schizophrenia in the family that saw Bowie’s half-brother Terry spend time in an asylum before committing suicide, Bowie’s own fear of madness, his awkward relationship with his mother, his dread of flying, endless sex including a 15-year-old groupie, mime, the decadence of the MainMan years when more than 100 people were living off his sweat, the duet with Bing Crosby and other collaborations, and all the rest.

There was a negative side too. Bowie had a habit of mercilessly dropping people he no longer had a use for, such as Spiders guitarist Mick Ronson, who took it hard, and his landlady and lover in Beckenham, Mary Finnigan. He met Angela Barnett in April 1969 and they married within a year. Her impact on his stuttering career was far-reaching but he never gave her due credit. Paul Reeves (childhood friend): “He would not have made it without Angie. In essence David was actually quite shy and retiring, and it was Angie who was the pushy one. She had the vision.”

Simon Napier-Bell, a manager on the rock scene, tells a rather unpleasant tale. Napier-Bell got a phone call one day from another manager, who represented David Jones and the Lower Third, saying Jones would be a superstar one day and he needed a co-manager. Napier-Bell says he was told that if agreed to jointly manage the young man, who was sitting quietly in a corner of the grubby room where they all met, he could have sex with him. Napier-Bell fled.

Some anecdotes we had not heard: Dylan Jones: “Ken (Scott, producer) played the vocal track from ‘Five Years’ (from ‘Ziggy Stardust’), which was a revelation to everyone in the room who wasn’t Ken. As the song reaches a climax, Bowie starts crying. He is so moved by his own lyrics and involved in the song that he actually cracks up crying. You can’t hear it on the finished record but it’s there . . .”

Trevor Bolder (Spiders bassist): “David tried to reform the Spiders after the Berlin period. He rang me at home in 1978 and asked me if I fancied it. But Mick Ronson wouldn’t do it.”

Bowie himself talking about being on holiday with John Lennon in Hong Kong and going looking for a place to eat monkey brains. “We actually found a place, but fortunately it was closed. However, we saw the tables with the holes in them – they put the monkey through the hole, whip its skull off, and eat it like an egg.” Lennon drank the blood of a snake and got high as a kite, then got Bowie to unwittingly eat a thousand-day-old egg cooked in horse urine, then covered in layers of different kinds of manures and buried in the ground. Bowie was furious.

And the negative – David Bailey (photographer): “He wasn’t my kind of man, as I found him too affected . . .He was always onstage, always playing David Bowie, always being what you wanted him to be. So I found it impossible to connect with him, as he was controlling everything.”

Paul Gorman (journalist): . . . I am a fan . . and yet . . . He was a shit to his mother, he was a shit to his manager who supported him through thick and thin, and he was a shit to numerous partners, including his first wife, whose contribution he meanly refused to acknowledge even unto death. He didn’t pay UK taxes for 40 years, he made execrable records during 1984-1995, often wore terrible clothes, stupid makeup and had rotten haircuts, definitely flirted with right-wing politics, and made silly statements on the subject . . . in other words, a normal, flawed human being. This absurd elevation – particularly by people I know wouldn’t have known “Lodger” from “Tonight” before he died – needs puncturing.”

Vale, David Bowie, you gave us some exceptional music and memories. And enjoy Dylan Jones’ generally praiseful portrait. Fans will lap it up.

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