It is with heavy hearts that we write about the death of David Bowie. He was a visionary, a risk taker, boundary pusher, father, husband, actor and of course, a musician. After fighting a battle with cancer, Bowie passed away at 69 years of age on January 10th, 2016. Bowie is survived by his first Wife Angela Barnett, their son Duncan Jones and his second wife Iman.
I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.
Born David Robert Jones in 1947 to working class parents Margaret and Haywood, Bowie showed a propensity for the creative at an early age. Singing in choir, performing dance routines and eventually picking up the ukulele (he loved Elvis Presley) and piano, Bowie struck those around him as imaginative, unique and powerful. Failing high school, Bowie went on to study art and design and soon began playing music with his friends and schoolmates. After a string of unsuccessful bands and single releases, Bowie, then still known as David Jones, changed his name to David Bowie and released his first solo album. It failed to chart.
That failure would not last long as his 1969 release of Space Oddity became a top five hit in the UK and by the mid-70s the album began to chart in the US. The opening line to Space Oddity, “Ground control to Major Tom.” has entered the common lexicon and the song has spawned thousands of covers, including one by Canadian astronaut Chris Hatfield in space in 2014. This success would soon be followed by his album The Man Who Sold the World which charted at 26 in the UK and 105 in the US Billboard 200. The cult of Bowie continued to grow as his Ziggy Stardust personae took on a life of its own. Each decade marked a reinvented Bowie with a reinvented sound. In all, Bowie would record 25 studio albums, including his final Blackstar, toured the world and won critical acclaim for his acting roles.
Bowie’s career was marked by the transgressive. Bowie pushed boundaries and constantly reinvented himself. In a time where conservative values were held as the norm, Bowie flirted openly with bisexuality, even claiming to have met his first wife during a gay sexual encounter. Bowie’s controversial androgynous Ziggy character received a lot of negative attention. Interestingly, it also contributed to many personal issues for Bowie himself, saying in an interview: “[Ziggy] wouldn’t leave me alone for years. That was when it all started to go sour … My whole personality was affected. It became very dangerous. I really did have doubts about my sanity.” Bowie struggled with drug abuse and mental health issues for parts of his life.
David Bowie was able to see his son Duncan direct his first movie, Moon and is survived by his loving wife Iman. Dead at the young age of 69, Bowie’s impact on popular music and the popular imagination will live on for years to come. He will truly be missed.
I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring. – David Bowie