A legend dies at 69: The life and career of David Bowie
On 10th January 2016 legendary pop superstar David Bowie succumbed to an 18-month battle with cancer. Two days after the release of his final album Blackstar, Bowie has died leaving a stunning legacy in the music world that inspired generations. Not only will he be remembered for his career spanning almost six decades, but also for his creativity and innovation that made him a true icon.
Born in Brixton and raised in Bromley (then known as David Jones) a 1960s teenager sparked the psychedelic and bohemian image on Beckenham High Street, as well as turning a few heads with his talent for music.
His first hit single, Space Oddity (1969) skyrocketed his music career, and after some experimentation Bowie re-emerged as vivacious, androgynous alter-ego Ziggy Stardust. It was this iconic persona that produced such hits as Starman and established the singer as a revolutionary creative character. Ziggy was much more than an eyeliner and sequin-clad eccentric; he was an inherently theatrical character who anticipated 1980s androgyny and present-day dialogue concerning the transgender community.
Bowie pushed the boundaries with his innovative stage performances and distinctive voice. He conveyed the unlimited potential of pop rock as a genre, and explored boundless creativity as the frontman of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars with the album, Hunky Dory.
Bowie was an innovator not just in the pop world, but also adapting to the growing popularity of soul and funk in the 70s and 80s. After finding success in America, he collaborated with many famed artists, most notably his first US number one, Fame, co-written by John Lennon. Bowie also introduced new persona, the Thin White Duke, to the world.
His career in the 80s and 90s solidified his status as a visionary of pop culture. He introduced artistry to a new wave of pop music with the release of Let’s Dance and Tonight, as well as his third number one Under Pressure – a collaboration with Queen. Bowie’s theatrical public faces and undeniable stage presence led to his successful acting career, where he appeared in such films as The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), Labyrinth (1986), and The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), earning him critical acclaim.
David Bowie’s historic career led to an exhibition featured at the Victoria and Albert Museum curating items, costumes and artefacts celebrating his career. He personified glam rock, gender bending, and ultimate stardom, pushing new boundaries every decade. Bowie was undeniably a resilient and powerful artist who tested the limits of creativity from the 1960s and will continue to do so long after his passing.
He will be remembered for the star he truly is, the Picasso of pop, the pinnacle of cool.
Photo: Adam Bielawski