Singer, artist and British icon David Bowie died on January 10th after an 18 month long battle with cancer. He was 69 years old. Born in Brixton, he found his home in New York, where he lived, recorded much of his music and ultimately died.
Bowie was an iconic singer, he appeared in the UK charts in five separate decades and was a large part of the changing world of popular music in the 1970’s. He sold over 140 million albums, released 111 separate singles and created 25 albums. He released his first album, Space Oddity, in 1969 and his most famous album was the platinum selling Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust. This album was accompanied by a massive 18 month, 200 show tour going by the same name, spanning from 1772-1973.
The 70’s were perhaps Bowie’s finest years but they weren’t as profitable as one might expect due to a number of things including a contract with his manager that handed him 16% of Bowie’s earnings. He broke away from this by 1982 and began to record less controversial music. His biggest hit, the album Let’s Dance (7 million sales), and his biggest tour, Serious Moonlight, both made him very wealthy but his artistry suffered as a result, the man wasn’t as happy as he was a decade earlier.
By the late 90’s/early 2000’s he has settled into a life as of enjoying music icon status, he released well received albums that celebrated his past but were still relevant to a newer generation. He announced a semi-retirement in 2003 but continued to make music and released his final album (Blackstar) barely two weeks before his death.
Part of Bowie’s legacy comes across through how he presented himself whilst performing and on album/single covers, such as the ionic headshot of him with the lightning bolt painted across the right side of his face. He did numerous performances dressed in drag and the wild and colourful colours of his Ziggy Stardust character caught the attentions of millions in the early 1970’s.
Bowie always seemed to be one step ahead of his time, he was one of the first artists to release a download only single, in 1996, nine years before iTunes. He even handled his own death in this manner. His final single, Lazarus, was confirmed by his producer to be a parting gift to his fans. The lyric “look up here, I’m in heaven” was picked up by many people. The video that accompanies the song shows him confined to a hospital bed, before being lifted upwards by a giant hand. The final person he followed on Twitter was God. Another album was in the pipeline, Bowie had made contact with his producer regarding recording even more music.
Millions of fans on social media, politicians, astronauts, comedians and current chart topping artists are just some of the people who all paid tribute to the man who touched so many lives during the five decades he spent at the top of the musical world.
Image credit: flickr.com/home_of_chaos