1947 - 2016
David Bowie, who died in New York aged 69 on January 10, 2016, had an
immeasurable impact on music and popular culture.
Born David Jones in London in 1947, he began his career as something close to a
folk singer, though the creativity and playfulness evident on his 1969
breakthrough single “Space Oddity” were signs that assigning such simplistic
genre classifications to an artist this ambitious would be a thankless task.
Throughout the 1970s, Bowie embarked upon an ascent to superstardom that broke
old rules and made new ones in a way that only The Beatles can claim to have
matched. From Aladdin Sane and Ziggy Stardust to The Man Who Fell to Earth and
The Thin White Duke, Bowie’s persona and image shifted as much as his sound,
proving hugely influential in the fields of film and fashion as much as rock and
roll. In the world of music, such was his influence that every time he redefined
himself, the parameters of pop had to be rethought also.
Throughout the 80s and 90s, Bowie continued to experiment with sonic styles,
touching on everything from industrial to jungle music and seeing record sales
break 140 million in the process. He triumphantly returned after a ten year
silence in 2013 with The Next Day, following it with the wildly innovative
Blackstar in 2016, released on his 69th birthday and just two days before his
death. That these final two releases showed him still operating at his peak only
adds to the sadness of his passing. Bowie may have left us but his influence
will be felt for generations. As the artist himself put it in the song
“Quicksand,” from perhaps his greatest album, Hunky Dory, "I'm not a prophet or
a stone-aged man, just a mortal with potential of a superman. I'm living on."