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Home   Maidstone   News   Article

David Bowie, who lived in Kent in 1960s, has died

11 January 2016
by KentOnline reporter

Tributes have poured in after music icon David Bowie died.

The rock legend passed away yesterday, just two days after celebrating his 69th birthday and the release of his latest album, Blackstar.

A message on his website reads: "David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18 month battle with cancer.

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Cover shoot for 1973 album Aladdin Sane© Duffy Archive The David Bowie

Cover shoot for 1973 album Aladdin Sane © Duffy Archive & The David Bowie

"While many of you will share in this loss, we ask that you respect the family’s privacy during their time of grief."

Bowie lived in Maidstone during the early 1960s when he was part of rhythm and blues band The Manish Boys.

He lived in a flat in the town with six other band members, who were all from the area.

VIDEO: Maidstone in mourning as David Bowie dies of cancer 

In an interview published in a fan magazine in 2003, Bowie described living in cramped conditions in the county town, before anyone had heard of Ziggy Stardust.

His enduring memory was getting a senseless beating from a local thug

He said: "It was just this big Herbert walking down the street. He just knocked me down on the pavement and when I fell down, he proceeded to kick me for no reason that I can fathom to this day. I haven't got many good memories of Maidstone."

David Bowie

David Bowie

Mike Whitehead, who was The Manish Boys' drummer, spoke about his fond memories of the early days.

He said: "We knew when we saw him he had star quality, what impressed us is that he was never normal in terms of sound, and he was determined to make a go of it and he wanted to get on and make it big.

"He was a very friendly, normal, guy - much like anybody on the street, it's amazing really. I don't think he ever put on any airs and graces, put it that way."

David Bowie in Dublin, 1991. The picture was shown as part of a Brian Aris exhibition at Whitstable Museum and Art Gallery

David Bowie in Dublin, 1991. The picture was shown as part of a Brian Aris exhibition at Whitstable Museum and Art Gallery

After forming in Coxheath in 1964 the band played for a year touring the country, the former drummer said: "We went everywhere, we played up north, in London, Folkestone, Deal and in Maidstone and even got on TV which was great."

The Manish Boys were battling to make it big and were booked to appear on BBC2 show Gadzooks! It's All Happening Now, when producers said they could only appear should young Davy get a haircut.

"There was an outcry from the fans," Mr Whitehead recalls, "so the producer relented and we appeared on the show, live, playing our record Take My Tip."


Mr Whitehead, formerly of Gillingham, now lives in Rotherham, and is among many to pay tribute to the musical genius since news of his death broke, offering his condolences to the family.

"I'm very fortunate and will never forget the experience. I'm really thankful for knowing Bowie, and knowing him in his early days," he said.

Joining the tributes was the music manager who promoted David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust tour

Les Best called the artist a "legend" who will be remembered forever.

Mr Best, who owns Hatters Hall record shop in Faversham, worked with Bowie during his 1972 Ziggy Stardust tour.

The 63-year-old, of Park Avenue in Whitstable, said: "He was a really nice, gentle person to work with. The tour was like a  relaunch for Bowie as Ziggy was the main thing since the days of Space Oddity.

"Bowie was totally unique, totally different and had a completely new feel to it compared to a lot of the rock stuff in that era. 

"He was artistic and quirky and his ideas were fresh and brilliant. The way he worked was incredible.

"Before he went on stage you could see him oozing with wanting to get out there but at the same time, everything had to be perfect. The make-up, the music, the stage, everything had to be spot on.

David Bowie turns radio disc jockey - he featured two hours of his favourite music in Star Special file pic dated May 1979. Picture BBC Pictures

David Bowie turns radio disc jockey - he featured two hours of his favourite music in "Star Special" file pic dated May 1979. Picture: BBC Pictures

"He was well-rehearsed and polished. But he wasn't mouthy or bolshy like a lot of pop and rockstars. 

"I didn't know him in the later days of his career but whenever I saw him on TV or heard him on the radio, he still came across in that reserved, professional manner.

"But when he went out on stage, it was a completely different ball-game. When he hit that stage with Ziggy Stardust, it was just incredible. It went from 'woah' to 'wow'. It was quite something."

Bowie was born Robert David Jones on January 8, 1947, in Brixton, to Margaret Mary "Peggy", originally from Folkestone, and Haywood Stenton "John" Jones, from Yorkshire.

The family moved to Bromley in 1953 and Bowie went on to attend Bromley Technical High School.

In 1969, he released Space Oddity which catapulted him to global stardom.

He is hailed as one of the world's most influential performers, particularly for his work in the 1970s and 80s which is when he achieved icon status.

He is survived by two children - Duncan Jones, born in 1971, and Alexandria Zahra Jones, born in 2000 - and his second wife, Iman.

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