How David Bowie's life was changed by the Little Richard biography written by Scarborough's 'Dr Rock'

Scarborough author Charles White’s official biography of rock n’ roll legend Little Richard is featured prominently in a hardback that appraises the 100 most significant titles from the late David Bowie’s book collection.

Friday, 3rd January 2020, 4:44 pm
Updated Friday, 3rd January 2020, 4:45 pm
Charles White

Written by John O’Connell, a former senior editor of Time Out magazine and music columnist for The Face, ‘Bowie’s Books - The Hundred Literary Heroes Who Changed His Life’ was published recently by Bloomsbury in London.

An avid reader, Bowie was noted to have taken a mobile library of some 1,500 books with him on the set of the 1976 science fiction film ‘The Man Who Fell To Earth'.

Accompanied by short essays on each title, the selection reveals both those that were significantly influential on him personally and also creatively in the writing of his music.

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From cult novels to comic books, the list comprises a diverse and eclectic range of literature, from the 19th century French classic ’Madame Bovary’ by Gustave Flaubert, Anthony Burgess’ dystopian work ‘A Clockwork Orange’ and Homer’s ‘The Iliad’ to The Beano.

The reading list was originally compiled as a feature of the ’David Bowie Is’ exhibition at The Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto in 2013, having been initially staged at the V&A in London.

Mr White’s biography ‘The Life & Times of Little Richard - The Quasar of Rock’ of 1984, with a foreword by Paul McCartney, was initially published by Crown Harmony in New York to critical acclaim internationally.

Widely acknowledged as the definitive account of his extraordinary life, the biography itself brought about enormous renewed interest in Richard’s music, subsequently becoming the catalyst for a resurgence of his career worldwide.

David Bowie pictured in 1971 with Dana Gillespie. Photo: Michael Stroud / Stringer / Getty Images

A seminal influence on Bowie becoming a musician, he stated in Mr White’s book: “After hearing Little Richard on record I bought a saxophone and came into the music business. Little Richard was my inspiration.”

The mercurial and seemingly omnipresent David Bowie, who died in 2016, performed at Scarborough’s Penthouse rock club relatively early in his career in 1971.

Charles White, AKA BBC radio presenter Dr. Rock, is also the official biographer to the similarly legendary rock 'n’ roll pioneer Jerry Lee Lewis.