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Today's ear X-tacy: Remembering David Bowie on his birthday with "Starman"

Today's ear X-tacy features a classic track or deep-cut from the Alternative era every weekday at 10:10.

Born David Robert Jones today in 1947, at the age of 18 he officially changed his name to David Bowie (after the Bowie knife) to avoid confusion with Davy Jones of The Monkees.

For more than four decades, he was a major figure in the music world. As a singer, songwriter, and musician, he was continually pushing musical boundaries, and is regarded as one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. He died at the age of 69 in 2016.

It was a television appearance in 1972 that was a major turning point in his career. Just as The Beatles’ first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show was to highly influential to the ‘60s American audience, so was Bowie’s 1972 performance of “Starman” on the BBC Television program Top Of The Pops to the British viewers. The broadcast launched Bowie to stardom and is said to be 'the day that invented the 80’s’.

The performance was viewed by a large audience, including many future musicians, who were impacted by it. U2’s Bono, Robert Smith of the Cure, Boy George, Mick Jones of The Clash, Morrissey and Johnny Marr and many more cited that performance as an inspiration to their careers.

“Starman” was released as the lead single from his fifth studio album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. The song is considered by music critics to be one of Bowie's finest. The BBC performance has been called “one of the most essential pieces of music television ever broadcast.”

Today we celebrate David Bowie’s birthday featuring “Starman” as Today’s ear X-tacy!

John is the mid-morning host on WFPK. Email John at jtimmons@lpm.org