Even David Bowie's Mugshot Was Epic

A look back at the star's 1976 arrest
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 11, 2016 10:55 AM CST
Even David Bowie's Mugshot Was Epic
David Bowie's mugshot.   (Rochester PD)

David Bowie left behind quite a few iconic images, including this 1976 mugshot, deemed by BuzzFeed to be "the coolest mugshot of all time." Bowie was arrested at a hotel in downtown Rochester, NY, in March of that year after what would turn out to be his one and only performance in the city. The Democrat and Chronicle reprints its two original articles about the case: Bowie and three other people (Iggy Pop, a bodyguard, and a Rochester woman) were allegedly found with about a half-pound of marijuana; Bowie (who gave police his actual last name, Jones) paid bond for all of them after they spent a few hours in jail. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment a few days later, and the charges were basically dismissed when a grand jury decided not to indict him in May.

As BuzzFeed explains, the ultra-glam mugshot wasn't taken in the wee hours of the morning Bowie & Co. were arrested, but rather when Bowie arrived at his arraignment. The 28-year-old star walked "silently ... through a crush of fans, police, and reporters"—and about six suspected prostitutes also awaiting arraignment—on his way into court, ignoring everyone "except for one teenager who got his autograph as he stepped off the escalator," the D&C article noted. As Open Culture recounts, Bowie was "looking dapper in his Thin White Duke clothing" at the arraignment—"a gray three-piece leisure suit and a pale brown shirt," with a "matching hat" that he carried, per the D&C. An auction house employee found the mugshot years later while going through a retired Rochester police officer's estate, and his brother sold it on eBay for $2,700 in 2007. (More David Bowie stories.)

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