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Trend-setter, impresario, phenomenon: David Bowie has shaped entire subcultures. Jon Savage traces the star's talent for reinvention and his catalytic encounter with William Burroughs

William Burroughs: The weapon of the Wild Boys is a bowie knife, an 18in bowie knife, did you know that?

David Bowie: An 18in bowie knife … you don't do things by halves do you? No, I didn't know that was their weapon. The name Bowie just appealed to me when I was younger. I was into a kind of heavy philosophy thing when I was 16 years old, and I wanted a truism about cutting through the lies and all that.

On 28 February 1974, Rolling Stone magazine published a remarkable encounter between David Bowie and William Burroughs. Entitled "Beat Godfather Meets Glitter Mainman", the event had been hosted in November 1973 by the American journalist A Craig Copetas. As published it took the form of a Q »

- Jon Savage

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