David Bowie, the brother who lost his mind and the battle that’s left his family raging


By rights, the release of a new David Bowie biopic really should be a subject of good enjoyment for the late singer’s devoted army of enthusiasts. But with just days to go just before the Uk release of Stardust, a fictionalised portrait of Bowie’s very first journey to The usa in 1971, the movie is mired in controversy.

Spurned by Bowie’s spouse and children — his son, Duncan Jones, has refused to permit any of his father’s audio to be provided in it and Bowie’s ex-spouse, Angie, has threatened legal action — Stardust also delves into just one of the darkest corners of the Brixton-born megastar’s lifestyle.

It touches on how Bowie’s romantic relationship with his schizophrenic more mature fifty percent-brother, Terry Burns, shaped his occupation and finally motivated the development of his on-phase persona Ziggy Stardust.

David Bowie’s 50 % brother Terry Burns’, pictured with the Ziggy Stardust star, struggles with schizophrenia is looked into in the new biopic

In accomplishing so, the movie also explores the not comfortable issue of whether the star, who died 5 yrs ago tomorrow, feared he may possibly also be impacted by the mental illness that dogged his family.

His relatives, however, will give no credence in any respect to the British-Canadian task.

‘If you want to see a biopic with out his audio or the family’s blessing, that is up to the audience,’ mentioned Duncan Jones via Twitter.

His disdain was echoed by Bowie’s initially spouse Angie, who mentioned: ‘I have not witnessed it and do not intend to. The producers have made the decision to use fake real truth and pretend their variation is reality.’

Crafting on Facebook, she reported she had ‘taken lawful advice’ about the movie: ‘It’s not fiction when you use the names of public personalities. This is the identical aged c**p that has been going on for 50 years.’

But with some reviewers questioning whether or not the film’s painful issue subject is at the rear of the family’s antipathy, what is the fact about Bowie and his tragic half-brother, who committed suicide in January 1985 — 31 years to the thirty day period before Bowie misplaced his possess lifestyle to most cancers in 2016?

Johnny Flynn portrays David Bowie in new biopic Stardust. The film does not have the blessing of the late star's family or his music

Johnny Flynn portrays David Bowie in new biopic Stardust. The movie does not have the blessing of the late star’s household or his music

For, as the Mail uncovered this 7 days, it was Terry who very first released Bowie to West Conclusion clubs and music, to considered provoking publications by Jack Kerouac and Albert Camus, and to the jazz and soul data that eventually fired his imagination.

Bowie himself easily acknowledged Terry’s impact, declaring that from him, he received ‘the finest serviceable education and learning that I could have had. He just released me to the outdoors matters . . . I noticed the magic and I caught the enthusiasm for it since of his enthusiasm for it. And I kinda desired to be like him.’

But Bowie also spoke of the psychological disease that dogged his mother’s aspect of the family members and his dread of succumbing to it, as his fifty percent-brother did.

Was that, then, why he appeared to reduce off approximately all ties with Terry in the last decades of his daily life as he languished in Cane Hill Medical center, a dreary Victorian asylum in South London which has since been demolished and replaced with a housing estate?

Terry Burns was a properly-recognized, somewhat scruffy character at the clinic in the early 1980s, wandering the corridors, begging cigarettes from porters and borrowing income from nurses to obtain alcohol, telling them his brother was the well-known pop singer David Bowie and he would fork out them again when the star eventually observed time to visit him.

Only a handful of individuals and employees knew that his seemingly fantastical assert was real. Some of them experienced glimpsed Bowie when he came to visit Terry at Cane Hill in the early 1970s — and there was a time when Bowie and Angie organised picnics for him in the healthcare facility grounds or took him away to invest weekends with them at their apartment in Haddon Corridor, South London. Some others had witnessed the postcards Bowie sent Terry even though he was touring close to the earth, some of which surfaced on eBay final 12 months.

David Bowie, pictured with Angie and son Duncan in 1974, often claimed schizophrenia ran in his family

David Bowie, pictured with Angie and son Duncan in 1974, usually claimed schizophrenia ran in his spouse and children

But by 1982, Bowie experienced all but reduce off make contact with with Terry. The previous time they fulfilled was at Mayday Hospital in Croydon, where by Terry was taken right after an early suicide endeavor — he experienced thrown himself from a medical center window and completely destroyed his leg and arm. In accordance to 1 of Bowie’s aunts, the singer promised he would get his brother out of Cane Hill but then never ever observed him all over again.

Bowie usually claimed schizophrenia ran in his loved ones. His mother was the eldest of six and three of his aunts both experienced the disease identified or expended time in psychological establishments. A person was offered electric powered shock remedy, an additional experienced a lobotomy. Speaking to Rolling Stone journal in 1975, he explained: ‘Everyone claims, ‘oh yes, my family members is quite mad’. Mine seriously is.’

The official trailer for the new Stardust movie also portrays Bowie as a person muddled about his identification and has him declaring: ‘I you should not want to go mad.’

Bowie was explained to have been troubled by the notion that his and Terry’s fortunes could possibly easily have been reversed.

Although the two experienced the exact same mother, their childhoods had been utterly diverse. Terry was born in 1937 — ten years before Bowie —when Peggy Burns was an single waitress performing in a cinema restaurant. His father was barman Jack Rosenburg, the son of a French furrier, who disappeared to France prior to Terry was born, leaving Peggy broken-hearted.

Terry spent his early years residing with his rigorous, bullying grandmother, Margaret Burns.

Bowie was born in 1947 and later on that year, Terry was authorized to go and reside with his mom and her new husband, Bowie’s father John Jones. But he was handled as a cuckoo in the nest by his jealous stepfather, who is explained to have suspected that Peggy was even now in adore with Terry’s father.

By all accounts, Bowie grew up wondering his dim-haired older 50 percent-brother, who did his Nationwide Provider in the RAF and was a eager boxer, was the epitome of great. It was not until eventually he was 20 that he realised how sick he was.

Bowie 1st turned acutely conscious of Terry’s psychological unwell-health and fitness in 1967 just after getting him to a live performance by the rock band Cream at the Bromley Court Hotel, where the loud songs activated an ‘episode’. Outdoors the hotel, Terry fell to the ground, declaring he could see flames involving the cracks in the pavement and that he was becoming pulled into the sky.

As his mental health spiralled downwards, Terry became a individual at Cane Hill Clinic.

In accordance to Angie, Bowie and Terry were being ‘very close’ in the late 1960s and early 1970s and the younger pair attempted to enable by acquiring him to remain with them. But while Terry was presented prescription drugs for his condition, he would halt taking them when he felt far better.

Speaking to the journalist and author Dylan Jones for his 2017 biography of Bowie, Angie recalls how the singer advised her: ‘We’re preventing a shedding battle simply because we are unable to view him 24 hours a day.’

Terry’s mental sick-overall health led to recurrent healthcare facility admissions around the years that adopted — but in between bouts of health issues he was equipped to resume an just about regular daily life. In 1972 he married Olga Archbold, a divorcee and mom of two from County Durham, who had left her relatives in the North-East to comply with her sister, who worked as a product, to London.

Bowie couldn’t attend the ceremony at Croydon Sign-up Place of work, as it clashed with the start off of his Ziggy Stardust tour.

Olga, an epileptic, died after having a fit in 1988 — just a few many years just after Terry. Her eldest son, David Archbold — Terry’s stepson — instructed the Mail this 7 days that she and Terry satisfied though she, too, was currently being dealt with at Cane Hill.

David recalled how, in January 1975, Olga introduced Terry to his wedding day in Hetton-le-Gap, County Durham. A few nights in advance of the massive day, David and Terry went for a consume at a nearby workingmen’s club, wherever Londoner Terry caught out like a sore thumb in his fashionable flares, cravat and Chelsea boots.

In an case in point of the variety of conduct that was getting significantly popular for Terry, right after a couple drinks at the club, he walked out and did not occur back.

‘He was missing for a day and a 50 % and sooner or later turned up in a hospital, in which he’d checked himself in,’ recalled David, a bakery supply driver. ‘That was the first concept I experienced about how bad he was.’

According to David, Olga achieved Bowie many occasions at the relatives dwelling ‘before things genuinely began to go wrong for Terry’.

He added: ‘Their marriage was difficult. She was content at initially but items went downhill as Terry’s psychological wellness deteriorated. I don’t forget my mum telling me that when Terry bought definitely unwell and ended up in an asylum, David pulled absent and still left him to his personal implies.’

In 1976, Terry and Olga moved from a one particular-room bedsit into a council flat in Penge, South-East London. But their pleasure was quick-lived, mostly simply because Terry refused to acknowledge that he was seriously unwell and stopped having his medication. He from time to time went lacking and would even snooze rough for months at time. When he became violent, Olga commenced divorce proceedings and gained a court docket buy banning him from their residence.

In 1981, Terry was re-admitted to Cane Hill as an inpatient. The adhering to 12 months, right after he tried out to just take his have everyday living, Bowie came to see him for what would be the previous time.

While Terry was compelled to return to Cane Hill, a frenetic touring program and the needs of fame took Bowie close to the globe. A newspaper write-up in The Solar in May possibly 1983 claimed that when Bowie would get paid a million from his most up-to-date tour, he had refused to give a penny ‘to his mentally ill stepbrother’. The posting was based mostly on comments from Bowie’s — and Terry’s — Aunt Pat, who generally criticised the singer for failing to aid.

‘David sent his stepbrother Terry a card from Japan very last calendar year promising to spend for the ideal remedy doable, but he hasn’t done a one thing,’ she explained.

‘Terry hero-worships David but David can not even be bothered to prepare for him to arrive and see just one of his London concert events. The only time David has been to check out Terry in the earlier ten several years was last year, just after Terry experimented with to get rid of himself.

‘David has reported that visiting Terry frightens him for the reason that he fears insanity in himself. But if that is the situation, all he has to do is to give some revenue to the health professionals, very little a lot more.’

At the time, Bowie’s spokesman explained to the paper that ‘of class David cares deeply about his brother and he has generally accomplished his greatest for him’ but that he did not want to remark on Pat’s allegations.

Terry took his possess life on January 16, 1985, at Coulsdon South railway station, not much from Cane Hill. Cold weather and snow had led to staff members shortages and he was equipped to slip out of the clinic unnoticed.

Bowie is reported to have decided that his existence at Terry’s funeral would convert it into a media circus and he stayed absent. But he despatched a basket of flowers, along with a observe that contains a line from the film Blade Runner: ‘You’ve viewed extra matters than we could consider, but all these times will be misplaced, like tears washed away by the rain.’

Right after Bowie’s possess loss of life, his cousin Kristina — whose mother Una was Bowie’s maternal aunt —denied schizophrenia had operate in the loved ones. Speaking to Dylan Jones for his biography David Bowie: A Lifestyle, she stated that while the spouse and children experienced endured tragedy, it was down to undesirable luck and not inherited mental sickness.

Her very own mom was explained to she experienced schizophrenia by health professionals who have been unaware that she experienced experienced ‘a enormous mind injury’ when she was run about in 1929. Yet another of the Burns sisters, Nora, in all probability suffered from cerebral palsy soon after she was born with her umbilical wire close to her neck and her personal mother, Margaret Burns, arranged for her to be lobotomised.

A 3rd sister, Vivienne, experienced from loneliness and melancholy right after marrying a U.S. airman all through the war and going from foundation to foundation.

‘In people times schizophrenia was a capture-all expression,’ Kristina mentioned.

Other folks think Bowie dallied with notions of madness as a way to improve his very own mystique. Angie, though, sees matters in different ways: ‘A great deal of his new music later on deals with insanity and madness, his knowing of why . . . just one is so significantly constantly on that edge. I imagine it experienced a large amount to do with the simple fact that he experienced a opportunity to shell out time with Terry and chat to him.’

Several Bowie music contain lyrics stated to reference Terry All The Madmen and The Prisoner the two explain a client in an asylum. When Bowie produced Bounce They Say in 1993, his Aunt Pat accused him of employing Terry’s suicide ‘to place his file in the charts’.

In 2000, he hinted that his song The Bewlay Brothers experienced been influenced by Terry and admitted he was by no means certain no matter if in that track ‘Terry was a actual man or woman or no matter whether I was really referencing a further component of me’.

Speaking about his worry of insanity in 1993, he said: ‘One puts oneself as a result of these types of psychological destruction in striving to steer clear of the threat of insanity. As long as I could press these psychological excesses via into my songs, I could constantly be throwing it off.’

On the eve of the fifth anniversary of his loss of life, his enthusiasts will no doubt favor basically to celebrate his musical genius.



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