As the world comes to terms with life without music legend David Bowie, we bring you – in full – the exclusive during which the singer and his supermodel wife Iman introduced their now-15-year-old daughter Alexandria Zahra Jones to the world. The interview, which was published in September 2000, showed David and Iman's pride in their little girl, who was just 17 days old when she made her debut.
Read what David said would be his daughter's "first and last interview" in full below...
Interview and co-ordination: Marquesa de Varela
The air has the sullen feel of a muggy late summer day as I sit with David Bowie in the Bowies' New York apartment overlooking Central Park. It's worse than usual this year because the menace of the West Nile Virus, which is carried by mosquito, has cast a shadow on the mid-town walkers and pram-pushing couples.
"lt's not so much the virus which is a worry, but the damn spraying that goes on every other night, '' David mutters through clenched teeth. "Introducing Alex into a mist of pesticide is not what we bargained on when we conceived her."
Alex is, of course, Alexandria Zahra Jones, the longed-for first child of David Robert Jones (aka Bowie) and his famously beautiful wife Iman Abdulmajid, known to the world simply as "Iman".
Alexandria was born at precisely 5:06 a.m. on August 15 at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan and right now she is in her nursery with her mother being fed and changed for her "first and last interview," as Bowie puts it. Though it's doubtful whether she will have many observations of life on this planet at such an early stage. Alone with David for a few minutes, I take the chance to have him talk about the birth from his perspective.
Photo: Getty Images
Is it really true you were already naming the children when you met Iman for the first time?
David: "Hell yes. My attraction to her was immediate and all-encompassing. I couldn't sleep for the excitement of our first date. That she would be my wife, in my head, was a done deal. I'd never gone after anything with such passion in all my life. I just knew she was the one."
"However, the names for our children did change over the years. It wasn't until we knew we were to have a little girl that we got down to serious consideration. The very first names we picked were Alexandria and Zahra. Then we went through a cycle of maybe another 20 or 30 alternatives. But in the end, the day before the birth, we arrived right back at our first choices."
Do these names have a particular significance for you both?
D: "Quite amazingly, I had had the name Alexander in my head for some time, as it had always been a favourite of mine. I can only ask you to believe that when lman and I talked about names, she suggested that if it was a girl then it should be Alexandria, after the Greco-Egyptian city. She had no idea how close it was to my own choice.
"So with the changing of a couple of letters, the first name was found. Many things like that happen between us, though, so I shouldn't have been surprised. The name Zahra was to have been lman's own name at birth, but a senior member of the family changed it to lman at the last minute."
Photo: Getty Images
Zahra is an unusal name. What is its source?
D: ''lt's the Arabic form of Sarah and, depending on where you go for a definition, you'll find some of the following: inner light; luminous; fair and beautiful; blossoming; or even shining."
David turns his head as Iman glides into the room with a freshly changed and almost smiling Alexandria in her arms. She is certainly a very serene baby. "Now you can see why Zahra is so appropriate," Bowie laughs.
She is indeed "fair and beautiful." Fair-skinned and, at the moment, hazel-eyed, with thick dark hair and long, long legs. The first thing one notices is the extraordinary likeness to her father.
"It happened with my son Duncan as well," he says. "We look so much alike it's spooky. Sometimes I look at him and see myself again at his age. Of course, he's a lot more sporty than I ever was. He's really buff. Very thickset and muscular. When Zahra was born the doctor's first comment was, 'My goodness, David, you've given her your entire gene pool.'"
As Iman sits down to join us, she adds, "She had her first bath the other night and as her hair got wet, it went incredibly curly so there are obviously a lot more surprises in store!"
Well, now that you are both here, how do you feel about things only days after her birth?
Iman: "This has to be the happiest of times in my life. And I've had some really happy times before. But now I have my whole family around me. Alexandria has been the force around whom everyone has gathered. And my soul feels complete.''
D: "Well, I can't better that. That seems about perfect really. Especially the soul part. It is amazing how a new child can refocus one's direction seconds after its birth. Everything falls into a feeling of 'rightness.' I have huge waves of parental love and protection pouring from me like..."
I: " ...Waves?"
Is she a good baby?
D: "Not to brag, which l'm now going to of course, but she never cries unless there is something absolutely crucial that must be attended to. Other than that, she doesn't seem to have any complaints. It's all whine and dine with spit-ups as cabaret."
I: "She is now very active and stretches and kicks and tries so hard to straighten her little legs already."
Photo: Getty Images
How different is it being parents the second time around?
l: "When my daughter Zulekha was born, I was at the pinnacle of my working life as a model and I pulled myself in two trying to cope with being both a mother and a career girl. This time around we are both in a position where we control our careers as opposed to our careers controlling us."
D: "We were very careful this time that conditions would be as positive as possible before we made the commitment to be parents again. For the first six years of our marriage it was out of the question to have another child as Iman was working pretty much round the clock setting up and consolidating her cosmetics company and I was still touring quite regularly. We had to be in a position where nothing could take us from home for at least the first couple of years. So, in reality, we had only been trying for Alex for a year or two before Iman got pregnant.''
Who did you call first when you found out you were expecting Iman?
I: ''Well, we waited until we were absolutely sure and then I phoned Zulekha at her university. And on the same day David telephoned his son, Duncan, in London."
So your son Zowie became Joe and now is Duncan? Is that right, David?
D: "There's a Iot of confusion over his name isn't there? Well, let's set it straight. My son's full real name is Duncan Zowie Haywood. As a toddler he was called by his second name Zowie. But it was such an identifiable name during the Seventies that if I called him loudly in public places, everyone would turn to stare, so I started calling him Joey to take the pressure off. It has the same sound and number of syllables as Zowie. And Joe stuck for most of his childhood. Now he has reverted to his real name, Duncan. Haywood was my father's name."
I: "lf we had had a little boy, he would have been called Stenton. That's David's father's other name. Such a strong name."
How did your children react to the news of Alexandria's birth?
I: "Well, Zulekha has already visited two or three times these last few days and she is just thrilled. Duncan has sent the most lovely toys – he won't see her until Christmas as he is working in London, but he is terribly excited about seeing her."
What effect is she having on your life together?
D: "We've always been very close, but if it's possible we've been drawn even closer. There's a joy or a contentment that's almost palpable to both of us. Overnight, our lives have been enriched beyond belief."
The city of Alexandria was famous for its great library which was the font of all knowledge in its time. What knowledge would you and Iman hope to impart?
D: "Well, we'd expected to have moved into our new, slightly larger apartment by now, but as these things always seem to go, there have been huge delays. So l've had to improvise a nursery in what was, until a few weeks ago, my library. lf Alex gets at all restless during the night she has access to a few hundred really excellent books! "It's very frustrating, actually. So the first thing I would tell her to take through life is, 'Don't trust builders' deadlines.'"
I: "l think I would tell her to look for the satisfaction quota in whatever she chooses to do. To not do things merely to please other people, but to satisfy her own inner needs."
If Alexandria wanted to follow in her parents' footsteps, what would your first piece of advice be, Iman?
I: "l couldn't possibly try to envisage that situation. It's just too far away and unreal. It's really not a good idea to forecast or double guess the fates, you will always be fooled. We both live very much in the now."
Are you having to wake up around the clock? You look pretty fresh-faced and alert.
I: "I have a night nurse at the moment, which takes so much stress off, but once 5:30 a.m. comes around I'm back on feeding and changing all the way through till midnight. l'm lucky in some ways in that I really don't need more than five or so hours of sleep. And, of course, my night nurse is a wonderful woman who has been such an incredible help to me."
"David feeds Alexandria at least once a day, and being an early bird himself, he helps me with the morning changes. I don't think you could describe him as a New Man though because, helpful as he is, I get the feeling he's really waiting for the time when he can start reading and drawing and teaching her things. He's sort of just being useful at the moment."
Having had a baby in your 20s and now one in your 40s, which age is better for motherhood in your opinion?
I: "There is no age better than another. The commitment to give of yourself and the knowledge that the time is right are what's important. The thing is, I suppose, a younger person may not correctly divine the right time, because of lack of life experience, so the older woman may have the advantage of truly knowing if it's right or not."
You are regularly voted one of the 50 most beautiful women in the world. Have you changed your beauty or fitness routine since Alexandria's arrival?
I: "I think I'm going to have to wait for a while before I get back in to the exercise regime that I usually do. lt's a strenuous daily workout and I need to wait another six weeks or so, and then just do gentle stuff which will gradually increase to the hard daily workout. I'm quite insufferable about fitness, I suppose. I think it's really important, though I'm not a body nut. The one thing you learn as you get older is that the body will do what the body wants. All you can do is try to guide it a little."
D: "Yes, I often find that giving Iman's body a good talking-to does wonders for it."
I: "Oh, you're so silly. But seriously, I find my weight is coming down slowly and fairly naturally. Though I must admit I can't wait to get back into the gym."
Photo: Getty Images
Do you have any tips for older mothers?
I: "Yes, make sure your decision to have a child is based on the need to share your life completely with another little human being and not because of some personal need for validation as a woman.The child must come first above all else. And pace yourself every day. There is quite a lot you will have to give up. You won't be popping out to the corner café for a nice romantic dinner as often as you used to, and the cinema or the theatre will start to be a nice memory, at least for the first couple of years. In short, you 'II never have seen so much of the inside of your home as you now will. But the up side... oh, I can't begin to tell you!"
We've read, Iman, that you compared bump sizes with Catherine Zeta-Jones during your pregnancy. You and she had your babies only six days apart, have you been in touch since?
I: "Oh, l've hardly had time to phone my own mother and l'm sure Catherine is as busy. No doubt we'll run into each other again one day, and then the babies can compare mothers or something."
Was the pregnancy how you'd imagined it would be?
I: "I was so very, very lucky. Apart from the first trimester exhaustion it was really trouble free and comparatively easy. Toward the end I found it a little hard to breathe easily as Alexandria has such long legs and they were planted well and truly on my lungs. She was also terribly active in the womb. Doing all the exercises that I wanted to do myself!"
Photo: Getty Images
Was the birth as trouble-free as your pregnancy?
I: "Yes, it was. On the evening of the I4th, which is a special day for David and me as it was the day of the month that we first met, we had our usual cosy little dinner. Just the two of us. Then just after we had gone to bed, at about 11:30 p.m. I went into labor. David organized a car in about 30 seconds flat and by 5:06 a.m. I had my child in my arms."
D: "I was extremely surprised at the difference between US hospitals and British ones. Once we had got Iman into her room, I was sort of waiting for them to come and take her away to the delivery room, until our doctor told us that her room was also where the delivery would take place. A kind of operating theater with a 27-channel TV."
Iman, you didn't want to know the sex of your baby in advance, but did you have a strong feeling about whether you were carrying a boy or a girl?
I: "I felt from about the third month that it was a girl, somehow you just know. And to tell the truth we knew the sex before she was born, as the doctor inadvertently let it slip during one of the examinations. It was one of those 'My, but she's got long legs...oops, l'm so sorry,' things."
Photo: Getty Images
Does she sleep exclusively in her nursery or do you wheel her into your bedroom at night?
I: "Because of both the night nurse and the fact that she is such a contented baby, we have her sleep in the nursery. Had she been colicky I would probably have had her with me 24 hours a day, but we've been lucky."
Now that you've got the child together that you've always wanted, are you both content? Or will you maybe start thinking about having a second one?
I: "Well, we have to get our bearings first. It's certainly not out of the question – after all, we need to use that Stenton name for some little person."
Interview and co-ordination: Marquesa de Varela