Today, the world mourns the passing of a true musical genius, singer and actor. David Bowie has died at the age of 69 following an 18 month battle with cancer two days after the singer’s 69th birthday. The sad news was announced at 6.30am GMT with a tweet from the singer’s official Twitter account.
January 10 2016 – David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18 month battle… https://t.co/ENRSiT43Zy
— David Bowie Official (@DavidBowieReal) January 11, 2016
Bowie, who was born David Jones, was seen by many as an artist who helped to change the landscape of music as we know it since he first exploded into the charts in 1969 with the now iconic track “Space Oddity”. Over his nearly 50 year career, the singer was a constant innovator and even in his final days, he released his 25th studio album Blackstar, which was released on January 8th 2016. No one was to know that this album would be his final offering to the world.
It is true to say that Bowie was constantly reinventing his image and sound throughout his career. However, for many, his most recognisable persona was that of Ziggy Stardust. During his time as Stardust, Bowie released the iconic albums The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, Hunky Dory, and Aladdin Sane. These albums gave us some of Bowie’s most memorable songs including “Life on Mars”, “Starman”, and “The Jean Genie”.
The 1970s saw Bowie release songs such as “Rebel, Rebel”, “Diamond Dogs”, which was later used in the Baz Luhrmann movie Moulin Rouge, and “Heroes”, along with the creation of The Thin White Duke. This time also marked Bowie’s move to the US, and his first foray into acting when he played Thomas Jerome Newton, the title character in the 1976 movie The Man Who Fell To Earth.
During the 1980s, Bowie received a revival in the mainstream music charts with the release of “Under Pressure”, which saw Bowie team up with another icon of music – Freddie Mercury and Queen; a song which is now seen as a classic by many. The 80s also saw Bowie duet with Mick Jagger for the song “Dancing in the Street”.
In 1986, Bowie played Jareth the Goblin King in Labyrinth, a role which gained Bowie a new legion of fans, many of whom would not have known who Bowie was previously. It is fair to say that as a child of the 80s, Labyrinth was a staple of many sleepovers and resulted in me hiding behind a cushion for much of it.
Bowie was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, and was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. Following a heart attack in 2004, Bowie took time away from touring and releasing new material. On January 8 2013 (Bowie’s birthday), he announced that he would be releasing a new album, The Next Day and upon its release in March 2013, the album became the fastest selling of the year.
Only three days ago, on his 69th birthday, Bowie released Blackstar, which according to the album’s producer Tony Visconti was “a parting gift”. The single “Lazarus” was released on the same day, and now has an extra poignancy as the song opens with the line, “Look up here, I’m in Heaven!”, and the video shows the singer lying in a hospital bed and ends with him walking into a darkened closet.
The single is also featured in the new off Broadway musical Lazarus, which stars Dexter and Hedwig and the Angry Inch star Michael C. Hall as Thomas Jerome Newton A.K.A The Man Who Fell To Earth. The production is playing at the New York Theatre Workshop until January 20.
Following the news of Bowie’s sad parting, the world of entertainment has been united in sharing their grief at the passing of a true icon and legend, however the most poignant tweet came from film director Duncan Jones, Bowie’s son. The dignity which Bowie showed during his battle with cancer continued until the end and our thoughts are with Bowie’s wife, Iman and his children at this terrible time.
Very sorry and sad to say it’s true. I’ll be offline for a while. Love to all. pic.twitter.com/Kh2fq3tf9m
— Duncan Jones (@ManMadeMoon) January 11, 2016
The Starman has returned home, and we are richer people for getting to share just a part of his genius. Rest in Peace David Bowie.