As David Bowie's celebrity profile increased, so did his desire to keep fans and critics guessing. The original pop chameleon introduced the pop world to Ziggy Stardust, Bowie's imagining of a doomed rock star, at a London concert on this day in 1972. His album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars was released six months later and made him a superstar. Dressed in wild costumes that spoke of some kind of psychedelic future, Bowie, portraying Stardust himself, signaled a new age in rock music.
Who Was David Bowie?
Rock star David Bowie's first hit was the song "Space Oddity" in 1969. The original pop chameleon, Bowie became a fantastical sci-fi character for his breakout Ziggy Stardust album. He later co-wrote "Fame" with Carlos Alomar and John Lennon, which became his first American No. 1 single in 1975.
An accomplished actor, Bowie starred in The Man Who Fell to Earth in 1976. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. Shortly after releasing his final album, Bowie died from cancer on January 10, 2016.
Known as a musical chameleon for his ever-changing appearance and sound, David Bowie was born David Robert Jones in Brixton, South London, England, on January 8, 1947.
After graduating from Bromley Technical High School at 16, Bowie started working as a commercial artist. He also continued to play music, hooking up with a number of bands and leading a group himself called Davy Jones and the Lower Third. Several singles came out of this period, but nothing that gave the young performer the kind of commercial traction he needed.
Out of fear of being 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.
By early 1969, he signed a deal with Mercury Records and that summer released the single "Space Oddity." Bowie later said the song came to him after seeing Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey: "I went stoned out of my mind to see the movie and it really freaked me out, especially the trip passage."
The song quickly resonated with the public, sparked in large part by the BBC's use of the single during its coverage of the Apollo 11 moon landing. The song enjoyed later success after being released in the United States in 1972, climbing to number 15 on the charts.
Bowie's next album, The Man Who Sold the World (1970), further catapulted him to stardom. The record offered up a heavier rock sound than anything Bowie had done before and included the song "All the Madmen," about his institutionalized brother, Terry. His next work, 1971's Hunky Dory, featured two hits: the title track that was a tribute to Andy Warhol, the Velvet Underground, Bob Dylan; and "Changes," which came to embody Bowie himself. read more