January 8th is a big day for rock’n’roll birthdays. Elvis Aron Presley was born on this day in 1935, and Bill Graham in 1931. There will be a big to-do at Graceland today, no doubt, and a two-day concert is planned at the Fillmore to celebrate Graham’s 75th.

But to some of us, the one that really matters is David Bowie, who turns 59 today. To us, Bowie is more than just a rock star; he’s the living embodiment of all we aspire to. Some people have Oprah, some have Donald Trump, some have L. Ron Hubbard, and we have Bowie. You’re either on board or you’re not, and if you’re not, we really don’t have much to talk about right now.

For the rest of you, I’ve come up with this Bowie birthday quiz, and just to make it interesting I’ve decided to award a copy of the Reality Tour DVD to whoever gets the most right answers. Just email me at bill@thephilter.com by, let’s say, Saturday the 14th; and remember, even if you don’t know the answers, you could still win if nobody else enters. So without further ado:

The First Annual David Bowie Birthday Quiz

1. What was David’s original last name, and why did he change it?

2. Why are his eyes two different colors?

3. What was the first instrument he learned to play?

4. Name the author of the 1977 Melody Maker article excerpted here:

I remember David playing me ‘Space Oddity’ in his room and I loved it and he said he needed a sound like The Bee Gees, who were very big then. The stylophones he used on that, I gave him. Tony Visconti turned me on to stylophones. The record was a sleeper for months before it became a hit, and I played on “The Prettiest Star,” you know. I thought it was a great song, and it flopped completely.

But I never got the feeling from David that he was ambitious. I remember he’d buy antiques if he had a hit, when he should have saved the money.

5. Which of the following people were at one time considered for the part David played in The Man Who Fell to Earth?

a. Jack Nicholson
b. Peter Fonda
c. Michael Crichton
d. Herve Villechaize
e. Peter O’Toole
f. Marlon Brando

6. Which Bowie album had the working title “Planned Accidents”?

7. Which album had the working title “Vampires and Human Flesh?”

8. Which album did he tell a reporter was to be called “Revenge, or the Best Haircut I Ever Had?”

9. The Rykodisc reissue of “Heroes” contained a previously unreleased and untitled instrumental which Bowie gave the name “Abdulmajid.” What is the significance of this name?

10. Which early-period Bowie single was rereleased in the UK after the success of Ziggy Stardust and sold a surprising 250,000 copies?

a. “Love You Till Tuesday”
b. “The Laughing Gnome”
c. “London Boys”
d. “Rubber Band”

11. The rhythm section of Tin Machine (and on Iggy Pop’s Bowie-produced Lust for Life) consisted of two brothers who were the sons of a famous comedian. Name him.

12. Which member of Monty Python’s Flying Circus is godfather to David’s son Duncan (a/k/a Zowie)?

13. Name the author of the poem excerpted here:

i listened to the record for 72 hours. day and night.
watching tv and in my sleep. like station to station and low,
heroes is a cryptic product of a high order of
intelligence. committed to survival. the rhythum tracks
are intel-disco. lysis-discos. the disintegration of
brain into lingua the pulse of rhythum. high east
coast wherein all the musicians play w/grace and taste.

the title song is wonderful. it exposes us to our most
precious and private dilemma. he has captured in this
song that desperate moment when one will die for
love. the track is pure. i am waiting for my man.
but i love that song too and what we love we love
repeated. the lyrics are really beautiful. one falls
in love and gets lost in its swirl. one projects far
aware and across the boundaries of space and placement.
we are in dream alive. we are not planets away but
separated by a room or wall of wire. thats all.

heroes is the theme song for every great movie.
made remade or yet to come.