The Man Who Sold the World by Peter Doggett—author of the critically acclaimed Beatles biography, You Never Give Me Your Money—is a song-by-song chronicle of the evolution of David Bowie.
Focusing on the work and the life of one of the most groundbreaking figures in music and popular culture during the turbulent seventies, Bowie’s most productive and innovative period, The Man Who Sold the World is the book that serious rock music lovers have been waiting for.
By exploring David Bowie’s individual achievements and breakthroughs one-by-one, Doggett paints a fascinating portrait of the performer who paved the way for a host of fearless contemporary artists, from Radiohead to Lady Gaga.
Taking for his unabashed model Revolution in the Head, the late Ian MacDonald's seminal work on the Beatles, Doggett's meticulous song-by-song analysis of David Bowie's "long decade" (1969 1980) is a captivating look at an artist who defined an era. Best read while listening to the Bowie songs in question for appropriate ambience and because Doggett's analysis gets technical when dissecting the chord structure of favorites such as "Changes" Doggett's nontraditional rock biography traces Bowie's early life and career through the 1980 release of his Scary Monsters LP. Throughout, he emphasizes the singer's infatuation with shifting personae, from Ziggy Stardust to the Thin White Duke, with Bowie constantly fragmenting himself and incorporating bits and pieces from other media: for example, his Spiders from Mars band is an homage to Jack Kerouac's On the Road. Each song Bowie released during this period is given careful attention from the tonal structure to Bowie's fellow musicians and his (often cocaine-addled) state of mind not just the "greatest hits," though it's especially illuminating that the "decade" is loosely bookended by "Space Oddity" and "Ashes to Ashes." The songs' Major Tom, adrift above Earth, Doggett convincingly argues, is not unlike the Bowie of today: an observer rather than a performer in the modern-day artistic world upon which he certainly left his indelible imprint.