Bowie, contented family man, to embark on world tour at age of 56

Thirty years after he retired his androgynous alter ego, Ziggy Stardust, at the Hammersmith Odeon, David Bowie is planning a new world tour for more than a million people in 17 countries.

With his young daughter Alexandra in tow, the star is planning to criss-cross the globe for the first time in nearly a decade, returning to countries he has not performed in since the late 1980s.

Called "A Reality", the world tour will begin in Denmark in October to coincide with the release of Bowie's album of the same name, closing in Japan the following spring.

While the star vowed to scale back tours after the "huge and unwieldy" commitments of the 1980s, recent more intimate one-off performances appear to have stoked his fire for playing live. "Last year's shows were such a tremendous high and the audiences so responsive," Bowie said. "My band is playing at the top of its form right now and it would be foolish not to play a tour this year while we're in such good spirits about the live show aspects of our work."

A self-avowed "contented family man" at the age of 56, Bowie's energetic performance at London's Carling Apollo in October earned him the accolade of the Dorian Gray of rock in one review.

The new tour, his first big excursion since the hugely successful "Outside World" tour of 1995, will include old favourites as well as tracks from Reality - due to be released on Iso, his imprint label, which is within Columbia Records.

His spokesman, Paul Carey, said:"It comes on the back of the success of his last album Heathen. Everything is going well and he has much more freedom with this new record contract, releasing an album when he has a good collection together. I have only heard a couple of tracks but it is certainly quintessentially Bowie."Heathen, released in June last year, proved to be Bowie's most successful studio album for many years, boosting his estimated £120m fortune in a career that began in 1969.

This time, his guitarists Gerry Leonard and Earl Slick, drummer Sterling Campbell, bassist-backing vocalist Gail Ann Dorsey, keyboardist Mike Garson, and keyboardist-backing vocalist Catherine Russell make up the touring band. The tour starts in Europe and moves to North America before reaching Australia and the Far East next year. Three shows are planned for the UK and one for Dublin. The UK debut is in Manchester on 17 November. Tickets go on sale on Friday.

* Sir Paul McCartney's offer to headline the Glastonbury festival was rejected by the organiser, Michael Eavis, in favour of Radiohead. Plans for him to play at the festival in Somerset were shelved earlier this year because they did not fit in with his world tour. A festival spokesman said he hoped to play next year. Mr Eavis said: "We tried to work it out with Paul. I offered him the headline on Friday and Sunday but it was Saturday or nothing. I told him Radiohead were already booked but it was no good so I had to say no."

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