Bowie - 60 Tomorrow, and Bigger Than Ever

New Zealand Herald, Sunday January 07, 2007

By Anthony Barnes

As anyone who has followed his career knows, David Bowie is the music world's master of reinvention.

Now, after turns as Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane and the Thin White Duke, Bowie has become the moneyspinner extraordinaire as he enters his seventh decade.

After a period of canny financial deals, internet experiments and lucrative tours, the music icon - who celebrates his 60th birthday tomorrow - has seen his earning power reach unparalleled heights.

Bowie, who is estimated to be worth £120m, generated about £30m on his last series of live dates when his intensive Reality Tour took him around the world.

And he is set to see his cashflow increase once again in the coming months after a health scare in 2004 slowed his recording and performing activities.

The creator of hits such as Space Oddity, Let's Dance and Heroes will re-release 17 albums and return to the stage in May.

There is also talk of a new album and tour towards the end of this year.

Recalling his prodigious cocaine intake in the 1970s which left him emaciated and, as he has often remarked, with a memory "like Swiss cheese", few would have imagined he would make it to 60.

But after cleaning up, he has thrived and developed a sound business brain.

In 1997 he struck a radical deal - and received a significant boost to his fortune - by giving investors the chance to gamble on his future earning power by issuing what were known as Bowie Bonds.

He raised £33m up front by forfeiting 10 years' worth of royalties on 287 songs from across his career, and the rights will soon return to him.

There are other as yet untapped sources of income which may open up shortly for the singer whose career began with early groups the King Bees, the Mannish Boys and the Lower Third back in the mid-1960s.

A source close to Bowie said: "The archives are bursting at the seams, things that no one has ever heard. He's never done anything like The Beatles Anthology, so there is scope for a boxed set and a DVD of his life. But certainly in recent years the touring has bolstered his income massively."

Unlike other stars of his generation such as Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Elton John, Bowie does not have a string of property investments around the world.

He has just one home, a Manhattan apartment that he shares with his model wife Iman and their young daughter Alexandria, known as Lexi.

However, he does have a plot of land in upstate New York on which he plans to build another home.

Bowie, who last year made an appearance in the second series of Ricky Gervais's TV comedy Extras, has no plans for a lavish celebration to mark his birthday; he will simply spend time at his loft in New York with his family around him.

His next music project will be in the city he has adopted as his base for the past few years, curating New York's Highline festival, culminating in an outdoor concert.

Although he has made guest appearances with David Gilmour and Arcade Fire, the show will be his first proper concert in nearly three years.


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