David Robert Jones was born on this day in 1947 in South London. Attending a broadly based technical school where he was able to study art, design and music, the future David Bowie was a student of Owen Frampton, an instructor whose son Peter also attended Bromley Technical High School. With Owen's encouragement, the two focused increasingly on music.
David formed his first band at 15. The short-lived Konrads got wedding and youth social gigs that required limiting their set list to familiar pop material David had little interest in. Brief stints in groups billed as the King Bees, the Mannish Boys and the Buzz followed, with none attaining much success.
Meanwhile, The Monkees had become enough of a sensation that Jones knew continuing his career under his own name would cause confusion with Davy Jones of that group. A knife designed for an American pioneering legend named Jim Bowie was also in vogue at the time, so David Jones opted to adopt Bowie as his last name.
He became involved in avant garde theater and dance pieces and developed a strong sense of the importance imagination and image could have in his development as a musical performer. Some of his songs were used in productions, but none translated into successful releases.
That all changed when he wrote, recorded and released the Song Space Oddity just days before the launch of Apollo 11, the space mission that landed Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong on the moon. The single rocketed to the top 5 on British singles chart and David Bowie was on his way.
Others born on January 8th include concert promoter and operator of the Fillmore East, Fillmore West and Winterland,Bill Graham (1931), Elvis Presley (1935) and Robbie Krieger of the Doors (1946). KISS signed their first record contract on this date in 1974. The following year, Led Zeppelin sold out four Madison Square Garden concerts in 4 hours. The New York City dates replaced ones planned for Boston after rioting broke out among people in cue for tickets. On this day in 1991, Def Leppard's Steve Clark died as a result of a combination of alcohol and pain medication. Nirvana's last US concert was at Center Arena in Seattle on 1/8/1994.