David Bowie was an English rock star born on January 8, 1947, as Duncan Jones. Bowie originally was a commercial artist, playing music and hooking up with a number of bands. His first band was called Davy Jones and the Lower Third. Not wanting to be confused with Davy Jones of The Monkees, David changed his last name to Bowie, a name that was inspired by the knife developed by the 19th-century American pioneer Jim Bowie.
For several weeks in 1967 he lived at a Buddhist monastery in Scotland. He also started his own mime troupe called Feathers.
Signing a deal with Mercury Records in 1969, Bowie released the single “Space Oddity,” which became a hit.
In 1975 co-writing the song “Fame” with Carlos Alomar and John Lennon, became his first American No. 1 single.
In 1970, Bowie’s next album, The Man Who Sold the World, offered a heavier rock sound and the song “All the Madmen,” about his institutionalized brother, Terry. His brother Terry committed suicide in 1985, a tragedy that became the focal point of Bowie’s song, “Jump They Say.”
The 1971’s Hunky Dory, featured two hits: the title track that was a tribute to Andy Warhol, the Velvet Underground and Bob Dylan; and “Changes,” which told about Bowie himself.
His 1972 album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, made him a superstar.
Bowie continued in what became known as the glam rock style with the album 1973 Aladdin Sane. “The Jean Genie” and “Let’s Spend the Night Together,” his collaboration with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.
1970s, Bowie gave up the outrageous costumes and garish sets and released the albums David Live (1974) and Young Americans (1975). The latter album featured back-up vocals by a young Luther Vandross.
In 1980, Scary Monsters, a much-lauded album that featured the single “Ashes to Ashes.”
Three years later Bowie recorded Let’s Dance (1983), which came, “Modern Love” and “China Girl,” and featured the guitar work of Stevie Ray Vaughan.
His love of film helped land him the title role in The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976).
In 1980, Bowie starred on Broadway in The Elephant Man, and was critically acclaimed for his performance. I saw this performance and was blown away by it.
In 1986, he starred as Jareth, the Goblin King, in the fantasy-adventure film Labyrinth, directed by Jim Henson and produced by George Lucas.
Two albums, Tin Machine (1989) and Tin Machine II (1991), and Black Tie White Noise (1993) came next but were unsuccessful.
Bowie catalogue earned $55 million.
In 2004, Bowie suffered a heart attack while on stage in Germany. He made a full recovery and went on to work with bands such as Arcade Fire and with the actress Scarlett Johansson on her album Anywhere I Lay My Head (2008), a collection of Tom Waits covers.
He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. In 2006 was the recipient of the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2013 his album The Next Day, skyrocketed to number 2 on the Billboard charts.
His next album Nothing Has Changed, featured a new song “Sue (Or in a Season of Crime).”
In 2015, he collaborated on Lazarus, an Off-Broadway rock musical starring Michael C. Hall, which revisited his character from The Man Who Fell to Earth.
On his 69th Birthday Bowie released Blackstar, his final album. Bowie died from cancer on January 10, 2016.