Remembering David Bowie

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[ot-caption title=”This portrait of David Bowie displays his unique style. (via, Ehrmann/Flickr)”]

David Bowie, the musician and actor who left an indelible mark on the ideas of many generations, died on Sunday, January 10 at the age of 69. In the days following his death, admirers of Bowie’s incredible innovation and charisma congregated all over the world to pay tribute to the artist whose art truly transcended all earthly borders. In fact, one of his most well-known creations was literally out of this world: the glitter-loving and neon-garbed extraterrestrial traveler Ziggy Stardust.  Bowie’s performances ranged from intimate to theatrical, and his music encompassed and influenced many genres, including the guitar-heavy glam rock of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars and the richly complex jazz sounds of his later work, which can be heard on his latest album, Blackstar, released just two days before his death.  For Bowie, a master of disguise, assuming an entirely new persona was no rare occurrence, but something almost routine which he performed with seemingly effortless fluidity and grace.  In a kind of paradox that could only be accomplished by Bowie himself, his numerous and constantly changing identities not only contributed to a cohesive image of the artist, but also unified countless groups of people in their love for his music.

David Bowie was born in Brixton, England.  From an early age, he showed an interest in music and played guitar with various bands.  After releasing his self-titled first album, Bowie earned himself a reputation as a solo artist with the single “Space Oddity,” a song heavily influenced by psychedelic rock chronicling the travels in space of the fictional astronaut Major Tom.  In 1971, the album Hunky Dory was released.  Bowie’s third album, The Man Who Sold the World, marked a departure from the style of his previous music, featuring powerful rock sounds.  By then, Bowie had acquired a substantial fanbase, but nothing could have prepared the music world for the release what is arguably Bowie’s most famous work, the revolutionary album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.  In a total transformation, Bowie drastically changed his physical appearance; images from concerts following the album’s release show Bowie with bright orange hair, a pallid complexion, and vividly colored makeup.  His music also underwent a change from 1972 to 1973, Bowie, completely engrossed with the character he had created, performed as Ziggy Stardust.  The album’s songs recount the story of the alien’s arrival on an apocalyptic Earth and his subsequent fascination with rock and roll.  Several years after announcing the end of Ziggy Stardust’s stage appearances, Bowie conjured yet another identity: the Thin White Duke, whose emergence coincided with the release of his 1976 album Station to Station.  Bowie then moved to Berlin, Germany; the three albums released during his time there, LowHeroes, and Lodger, came to be known as the unparalleled Berlin Trilogy.  In 1981, Bowie collaborated with the musician Queen to produce the uptempo rock duet “Under Pressure.”  In 1989, Bowie announced the end of his solo career, choosing instead to perform with various bands.  However, he resumed performing as a solo artist after several releases.  In 2013, Bowie, who had not released a studio album in over a decade, surprised audiences with the release of The Next Day.  On January 8, 2016, Bowie’s 69th birthday, the album Blackstar was released; it has been regarded as a meditation on the nature of death and a final farewell from the Starman himself.

David Bowie’s extraordinary accomplishments are certainly not relegated to the field of music.  An accomplished actor, he not only acted in but produced several films, including The Man Who Fell to Earth and Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.  His contributions to the field of theater are also substantial; his off-Broadway musical Lazarus has been hailed as a profound and meticulous work.  The attendance to its showings has recently soared as fans gather in theaters to pay their respects.  The innovative costumes and dramatic makeup Bowie wore onstage left a lasting impression on the fashion world.

Virtually no corner of the music, film, theater, and fashion industries has been left untouched by Bowie’s formidable influence.  Up until the very end of his life, David Bowie continued to surprise, inspire, and delight with his incomparable imagination.

Sources: Flickr, Wikipedia