Teenage Wildlife

Dad is David Bowie

Originally from the Daily Mail
Reprinted in the Melbourne Sunday Herald Sun, Australia
March 19, 2000

A low-key lifestyle hides the identity of David Bowie's son

Duncan Jones
Down to earth: Duncan Jones
keeps his identity low-key

With his wispy beard, sheepskin jacket and American accent, Duncan Jones could easily be mistaken for a typical foreign student in London.

And thanks to his low-key lifestyle it is hardly surprising his neighbors do not realise they are living next door to the son of one of the world's most flamboyant and successful rock stars.

Yet, if he told them the name his parents gave him in the 1970's, they would guess in an instant. The 28-year-old student is Zowie Bowie, the son of David Bowie - who will soon become a father again at 53.

Living in a modest flat in north-east London, Duncan, as he now likes to be known, is a second-year student at the International Film School in Covent Garden.

His neighbors say he is "quiet and polite" and they were unaware that his father is the multi-millionaire singer whose glam-rock style helped define the 70s.

At his local pub, the Sutton Arms, one drinker said: "We've seen him in here a few times, but he doesn't come in much because he doesn't drink. He seems a quiet and unassuming chap and I can't believe he's Bowie's son."

His down-to-earth nature is, perhaps, surprising considering his unconventional childhood.

The product of Bowie's ill-fated marriage to first wife Angie, he spent most of his early years living with his father.

By his own admission, Bowie abused drugs and slept with other women and men during the eight-year marriage.

He called his son Duncan, but it was American-born Angie who insited the boy be known by his middle name of Zowie.

She chose the name, because Zoe means life, then changed the spelling so it would not be confused with the girl's name.

The singer was granted custody when Zowie was five and Bowie's marriage fell apart.

Despite his own hedonistic life at the time, Bowie was determined to give his son a stable upbringing.

Friends say he worked hard at being a single parent and was fiercely protective of his son.

He never allowed Duncan any contact with the rock business fearing he may get sucked into the excesses which are synonymous with it.

A family friend said: "He was determined to try to give Duncan as much love as possible."

"Being an only parent, a close bond developed between the two. This not only gave Duncan stability, it kept David on the straight and narrow.

"There are a lot of stories about David's crazy lifestyle. Some are true, but there has been a lot of exaggeration. Being a normal dad isn't very rock 'n' roll, but that is very much what David did.

"The two of them are still very close today and se each other regularly. David's interest in the visual arts and the internet comes from Duncan.

"Duncan is also the one who keeps David up to speed with new bands and other things going on in music. Despite everything, they are very much like an ordinary father and son. They often go to the cinema together or eat out."

Bowie, now maried to Somali-born model Iman, has said of his son in the psat: "He's seen me through some of the most awful, depressing times when I was really in absolute, abject agony over my emotional state; the heights of my drinking of drug-taking. He's seen the lot."

Bowie sent his son to Prince Charles's former school, Gordonstoun, in the Scottish Highlands.

By now Zowie, who had lost touch with his mother, had decided he wanted to be known as Joe - he would become Duncan later - and reverted to the true family surname of Jones.

Duncan pased high school and then went to college in London before going to university in Ohio, where he gained a philosophy degree.

Hank Kreuzman, head of philosophy at Wooster College, remembers Duncan as a model student.

"He was one of the top two or three students in the class and worked very well independently," he said.

During his time as an undergraduate, Duncan fell in love with a local girl two years his junior - Jennifer Ichida - and when he embarked on a PhD in philosophy at Vanderbilt University, Tennessee, she accompanied him.

Duncan, who also has a home in Manhattan, orginally harbored ambitions to be an academic, but by the age of 26 he was at last secure enough in his own identity to follow a more creative path.

Now in his second year at the International Film School, he is still with Jennifer and shuns the limelight.

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This document last updated Sunday, 26-Mar-2000 21:33:58 EST
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