Composer, arranger, producer, and performer, David Bowie is probably the most versatile talent ever to have emerged from rock music origins. His new biography is a fascinating fast read that is filled with insiders’ information and insights. Born to unwed parents in 1947, Bowie embarked on a slow but steadfast voyage to fame. Working with a succession of British bands in the mid-1960’s, he gradually developed a charismatic presence that combined flamboyant trendiness with androgynous theatricality. Once his potential was established with the song “Space Oddity"--perfectly timed to coincide with the first moonwalk--and the album THE MAN WHO SOLD THE WORLD, Bowie introduced the first of what was to become a series of constantly changing stage personae. During a five-year period, he became (seemingly both onstage and off) Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, a Diamond Dog, and the Thin White Duke. The debut of each character was accompanied by elaborate promotions and grandiose tours that soon elevated Bowie into the status of a jetset celebrity and enabled him to hobnob with the likes of Mike Jagger, Elizabeth Taylor, and Andy Warhol.

The authors, one of whom presided over Bowie’s management firm, are adept at describing a rock superstar’s creative evolution--especially, in this case, their subject’s transcending abilities as manifested in his critically acclaimed Broadway performances in THE ELEPHANT MAN and in the Nicholas Roeg film THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH. Edwards and Zanetta are duly appreciative of the diversity and accomplishment of Bowie’s artistic endeavors. They are less impressed with his life-style, peppering the narrative with tales of sexual escapades, drug abuse, and extravagant affections. Although they basically seem to like and respect Bowie, they are keen on exposing his self-deceptions and his disloyalty to early friends and supporters.

While not definitive--Bowie remains elegantly elusive--STARDUST is the most comprehensive account of his life to date.