James McDonald Reid - who lived with the Life On Mars singer in a tiny capital basement flat in the early 1970s – admits Bowie was “extremely influenced” by celebrated mime artist Lindsay Kemp.
Kemp owned a small, dingy two-bedroom flat in the capital’s Drummond Street and allowed Bowie and his then-wife Angie to move in while he was in Scotland.
And within days of arriving at the Kemp’s home Bowie began wearing the extravagant make up he was soon to be famous for.
Bowie then donned face make-up for the first time to play a gig at the Edinburgh Art College, a show in which James, 67, opened for the star by playing a short set on the Czech bagpipes.
James, from Edinburgh, said: “I remember David Bowie very well from his days in Edinburgh – it must have been around 1970/71.
“He arrived with his wife Angie, who was really loud and brash, and stayed with myself, Lindsay and dancer Jack Birkett.
“It was a very small and dark flat and if I remember correctly we all had to share a mattress on the floor as there were no beds.
“He was a very, very shy and quiet man, but I did notice he was very observant and would listen and take in everything around him.
“He was obviously heavily influenced by Lindsay who was a terrific mime artist and who wore make up a lot of the time - and within days Bowie was wearing it too.
“I believe the gig at the art college was the very first time he had worn make up on stage, and that is all down to him meeting and being influenced by Lindsay.
“Then within months I saw him play a show in London and he was completely transformed from the long-haired hippy I had first met in Edinburgh into this incredible stage performer.”
And while Bowie, who sadly passed away on Sunday aged 69 following a brave battle with cancer, lived in the capital he used to roam the city streets on his own taking in the history and stunning architecture.
Folklorist James added: “He would get up fairly early and head out on his own and just walk the streets. As I said he was very observant and always very interested in his surroundings.
“During the art college gig he was more of a folk-orientated artist but he soon changed all that and became the worldwide star we all know today.
“I wasn’t a huge fan of his music but he was a thoroughly lovely person and I was saddened by his early death this week. It certainly brought all those memories flooding back.”
The Drummond Street flat Bowie and his then-wife Angie stayed in was eventually bought by the director of Edinburgh Hogmanay, Pete Irvine.
He said: “All the furniture had gone and he certainly didn’t leave any of his albums behind. I lived there for four years and did it up, kept the garden and made it much nicer.
“It was a basement flat with two bedrooms, pretty small and subterranean. It was the first flat I bought – I paid £500 for it.
“Bowie stayed all the time when he was in Edinburgh – I don’t know how long for but it was a few months.
“I knew some of the people he knew. It was the very early 70s and he lived there with [then-wife] Angie, Lindsay Kemp and Jack Birkett.”