The musical chameleon, born on January 8, 1947, like most legendary musicians, showed an interest in music from a very young age. By the age of 13, he was already playing saxophone.
Thanks to his older half-brother, the young man was exposed to a world of rock music and post-WWII literature. However, older brother Terry had a few mental problems which left the Jones family with no choice but to commit him to a mental institution. This unanimous decision by the parents left little brother quite upset for a long period during his lifetime. His brother later took his life in 1985, which became the inspiration for one of David’s songs, titled: Jump They Say.
When David graduated high school in 1963, he immediately started working as a commercial artist. It didn’t take long for the teen to get together his own band, which they called Davy Jones and the Lower Third. A good few songs were produced during this time, but nothing that gave the angsty artist the closure he desired.
Being more of a rock star, David Jones decided to change his name so as to not be confused with member of a pop band called The Monkees, Davy Jones. So he changed his name to David Bowie.
In 1967, seeing as Bowie could tell things weren’t really working out with the Lower Third, he eventually decided to try and solo for a bit. This didn’t work either, so he took a leave of absence from the music scene for a couple years. By ’69, he had already made a full return to music. Signing off with Mercury Records, he released a single titled Space Oddity. The inspiration came from a movie of similar title; 2001: A Space Odyssey. Perhaps one of his first really big songs, Space Oddity was actually played during the Apollo 11 moon landing. In 1972, it also hit number 15 on the charts.
It was also this year when Bowie became truly famous. He was becoming more and more popular in the eyes of the public and decided to play a little trick on the world to keep everyone interested. He claimed he was gay and gave birth to alter ego Ziggy Stardust. The 1972 album; The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, finally made him famous. He dressed in wild costumes that played into the classic idea of a super-high-tech future. Hardcore music fans claim that by creating Ziggy Stardust, Bowie signalled a new age of rock music.
Seeing what a huge success this first persona was, Bowie decided to create some more. Two more Bowie albums came out under the name of Lou Reed and Iggy Pop. After this, he left his Spiders behind and continued creating music in this new genre of “Glam Rock.”
His career in music continued well on into the mid-70’s and all the way through until the 90’s. Another passion of his, the one for movies, landed him title role in a 1976 film titled The Man Who Fell to Earth. It was also around this time that he experienced another major transformation. He left the crazy costumes behind and started acting a little more professionally. From 1980-1990, his talent in film started fading, but his talent in song flourished more than ever before. Three albums were released in this time; Tin Machine (1989), Tin Machine II (1991) and Black Tie White Noise (1993).
Bowie earned $55 million selling Bowie Bonds, a financial security measure that he backed up with his pre-1990 work. He was given his bonds back when they had lived their life in 2007. Also during this 70’s-90’s era, when Bowie was perhaps the most popular, he was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.
2004 marked the beginning of the decline of Bowie’s health when he had a heart attack while performing in Germany. He was out of the game for a while, but made a rather quick return for a life-threatening incident like that when he released the 2008 album, Anywhere I Lay My Head. He was given a Grammy award for Lifetime Achievement in 2006, and then disappeared for a little while.
Until 2013, when he released another album called Nothing Has Changed. This album quickly made its way straight to number 2 on the charts. In 2015, he assisted in the creation of Lazarus, a musical that was produced in the New York venue: Off-Broadway. He released his final album on January 8, 2016. It was called Blackstar and according to New York Times, it was a “strange, daring and ultimately rewarding piece with a mood darkened by (the) bitter awareness of mortality.” People around the world would realize just how true this was when, two days later, Bowie died from cancer. Blackstar, the absolutely final album, was released on his 69th birthday. Bowie only lived for two days after his birthday.
A message to confirm this earth-shattering truth was released on Bowie’s Facebook page, reading: “David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous, 18-month battle with cancer.” A dear friend and producer, Tony Visconti also wrote on Bowie’s Facebook that his final album was his parting gift.