David Bowie: The Life and Death of the Brilliant Starman

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Claire Payne, Assistant Content Editor and Staff Writer

On Sunday night, January 13th, one of the most influential rockers of all time died after an 18-month long battle with liver cancer. David Bowie had five UK number one singles, two US number one single, 61 singles in the UK top 40, 336 weeks in UK top 40 singles chart, 140 million estimated worldwide record sales, and his biggest-selling album, Let’s Dance, sold seven million copies. He was one of the top 10 biggest selling UK artists of all time. His music career spanned six decades, reinventing himself many times throughout those years.

Bowie first began as David Robert Jones, a young boy from Brixton with obvious musical abilities. After leaving technical school, he became Davy Jones, an unsuccessful British lad who jumped from band to band, releasing a few unsuccessful singles. After confusion with Davy Jones of the Monkees, he renamed himself after the American pioneer Jim Bowie. In 1967, he released his album debut, David Bowie. In 1969-1970, he released both Space Oddity and The Man Who Sold the World, both receiving tremendous success and critical approval.

While on tour, Bowie create the Ziggy Stardust character, a melding of Iggy Pop’s personality and Lou Reed’s music, releasing The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. When he was on stage, Bowie, “[achieved] emotion… which is probably why [he preferred] dressing up as Ziggy to being David.” It was Ziggy Stardust who filled the stage with shocking moments such as stripping down to a sumo wrestling loincloth or being suggestive with a guitar.

In 1973, Bowie decided to retire as Ziggy and take step towards soul and funk. Many critics were amazed by the way he was able to constitute such a radical shift in style. He released Aladdin Sane, Pin Ups, Diamond Dogs, and Young Americans in just the timespan of three years.

Not only was Bowie a rock star, he was also quite a successful actor. In 1976, he starred in The Man Who Fell to Earth, and in 1980, he performed on Broadway in The Elephant Man. While performing, he also managed to release two albums, Scary Monsters and Let’s Dance. Bowie went on to release many more albums and star in many films.

On January 8, 2016, on his birthday, Bowie release his final album Blackstar which was characterize by a dark mood centering the awareness of death. A few days later, Bowie would leave this world as one of the most successful and inspirational rock stars of all time.

Bowie’s death echoed worldwide. Everyone tweeted their reactions and memories of Bowie for days. Paul McCartney posted a picture of David and him on Instagram and said, “Very sad news to wake up to on this raining morning. David was a great star and I treasure the moments we had together. His music played a very strong part in British musical history and I’m proud to think of the huge influence he has had on people all around the world. I send my deepest sympathies to his family and will always remember the great laughs we had through the years. His star will shine in the sky forever.”

A few other celebrities chimed in on how inspirational Bowie was on their music. Kanye West tweeted, “David Bowie was one of my most important inspirations, so fearless, so creative, he gave us magic for a lifetime.” The Rolling Stones tweeted, “As well as being a wonderful and kind man, he was an extraordinary artist, and a true original. 2/2 #DavidBowie.” Madonna posted a picture of Bowie on Instagram and said, “Talented . Unique. Genius. Game Changer. The Man who Fell to Earth. Your Spirit Lives on Forever.”