The Starman: David Bowie in Scotland

David Bowie performs at Murrayfield Stadium on June 26, 1983, as part of his Serious Moonlight world tour. Picture: Alan Macdonald/TSPL
David Bowie performs at Murrayfield Stadium on June 26, 1983, as part of his Serious Moonlight world tour. Picture: Alan Macdonald/TSPL
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David Bowie, who has died aged 69, enjoyed a hugely succesful career spanning six decades.

The legendary performer released Black Star, his 26th studio album, just three days before his death was announced.

A poster advertising a David Bowie gig at Kirkcaldy's Adam Smith Theatre in November 1969

A poster advertising a David Bowie gig at Kirkcaldy's Adam Smith Theatre in November 1969

Bowie spent 10 years out of the limelight before a surprise comeback single - Where Are We Now? - was unveiled online with no prior warning on the morning of his 66th birthday in 2013, and marked his first new material in 10 years.

Bowie’s last performance in Scotland took place at the SECC in Glasgow on November 2003, while his most recent gig of any description was a three-song set at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom in 2006.

It was reportedly the diagnosis of a blocked artery and subsequent treatment in June 2004 which led to the once prolific performer’s retiral from the live circuit. Among the gigs he was forced to cancel was a much-anticipated headline appearance at that summer’s T in the Park festival in Balado.

Bowie recalled in 2003 his first gig north of the border was in a Glasgow pub in the early 1960s.

A bearded David Bowie performs with Tin Machine at The Forum in Livingston in July 1989. Picture Joe Steele/TSPL

A bearded David Bowie performs with Tin Machine at The Forum in Livingston in July 1989. Picture Joe Steele/TSPL

His first Scottish headlining show took place on December 3, 1964, at the ABC Cinema in Lothian Road, Edinburgh. Back then, the young vocalist from Bromley was still known by his birth name, David Jones, and he was fronting a beat group called the Manish Boys.

The band would soon change their name to the Lower Third, the first of many reinventions that would later characterise their frontman’s career.

READ MORE: Tony Visconti on playing David Bowie’s glam album

A year later Jones had become Bowie and his backing group was called the Buzz. A spring tour included dates in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee and Hawick.

A female fan receives treatment after fainting during David Bowie's 1989 performance in Livingston. Picture: Joe Steele/TSPL

A female fan receives treatment after fainting during David Bowie's 1989 performance in Livingston. Picture: Joe Steele/TSPL

The aspiring pop star finally achieved the chart break through he so craved in July 1969 when Space Oddity became a Top 10 hit. His label financed a substantial winter tour of the UK on the back of the single’s success, including six shows in Scotland.

It would take a further three years and another dramatic artistic reinvention before Bowie firmly established himself as a musical superstar.

While his 1971 album Hunky Dory was a critical and commercial hit, the release of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars the following year caused a sensation.

A promotional tour throughout 1972 witnessed displays of fan devotion last seen in the days of Beatlemania.

David Bowie on stage at the Glasgow SECC on November 28, 2003, during his A Reality world tour. Picture: Rob McDougall/TSPL

David Bowie on stage at the Glasgow SECC on November 28, 2003, during his A Reality world tour. Picture: Rob McDougall/TSPL

Scotland had to wait until January 1973 to see what all the fuss was about. Ziggy Stardust finally arrived at Green’s Playhouse in Glasgow on January 5, followed by a show at the Empire Theatre in Edinburgh the following night.

Bowie’s fame continued to rise throughout the decade thanks to a remarkable run of albums, each different from the last and exploring a range of styles and influences.

Among his notable Scottish appearances was a four-night residency at the Glasgow Apollo from June 19-22, 1978.

Bowie’s fame arguably peaked with the success of 1982’s Let’s Dance, and the accompanying tour, Serious Moonlight, would prove to be both the longest and most successful of his career. More than 47,000 fans saw the only Scottish date at Murrayfield Stadium in June 1983.

Remarkably, the next time Bowie appeared on stage north of the border would be at a Livingston nightclub in July 1989. By then he was fronting a new band called Tin Machine. Although the group played none of Bowie’s solo hits - and had received a decidedly lukewarm reception from critics - there was a huge demand for tickets to the show at The Forum, a town centre venue that was demolished in the mid-1990s.

Those who missed out that night could at least look forward to a solo show at the Royal Highland Exhibition Centre in 1990, when Bowie would revisit the songs that made him famous.

Bass guitarist Carmine Rojas and David Bowie perform at Murrayfield Stadium in June 1983. Picture: Alan Macdonald/TSPL

Bass guitarist Carmine Rojas and David Bowie perform at Murrayfield Stadium in June 1983. Picture: Alan Macdonald/TSPL