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1947 - 2016
David Bowie, who died in New York aged 69 on January 10, 2016, had an immeasurable impact on music and popular culture.
Born David Jones in London in 1947, he began his career as something close to a folk singer, though the creativity and playfulness evident on his 1969 breakthrough single “Space Oddity” were signs that assigning such simplistic genre classifications to an artist this ambitious would be a thankless task.
Throughout the 1970s, Bowie embarked upon an ascent to superstardom that broke old rules and made new ones in a way that only The Beatles can claim to have matched. From Aladdin Sane and Ziggy Stardust to The Man Who Fell to Earth and The Thin White Duke, Bowie’s persona and image shifted as much as his sound, proving hugely influential in the fields of film and fashion as much as rock and roll. In the world of music, such was his influence that every time he redefined himself, the parameters of pop had to be rethought also.
Throughout the 80s and 90s, Bowie continued to experiment with sonic styles, touching on everything from industrial to jungle music and seeing record sales break 140 million in the process. He triumphantly returned after a ten year silence in 2013 with The Next Day, following it with the wildly innovative Blackstar in 2016, released on his 69th birthday and just two days before his death. That it showed him still operating at his peak only adds to the sadness of his passing, but while Bowie may have left us, his influence could be eternal.