Bowie first splashed onto the music charts in 1969 with “Space Oddity.” The song became one of his best known and among three of his recordings to be included in The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll. Bowie went on to experiment with a variety of musical styles that came to define him as an innovator.
With his first album, “The Man Who Sold the World,” Bowie helped usher in the era of glam rock, a style known for its androgynous-looking performers, make-up and flamboyant costumes.
Bowie followed his debut with a string of musical successes, notably “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.” The 1972 concept album featured his gender-bending alter-ego, Ziggy Stardust, an alien rock star. The same year, in an interview with Melody Maker magazine, Bowie came out as gay. He later told Playboy he was bisexual.
In 1976 Bowie starred in “The Man Who Fell to Earth,” the first of his many film roles. He experimented with highly theatrical live shows and narrated “Peter and the Wolf” with the Philadelphia Orchestra—the first of his many children’s projects. He made his Broadway debut in “The Elephant Man.” In addition to music, film and theater, Bowie was also an accomplished artist whose work was shown at international galleries.
Bowie produced important albums for Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, and Mott the Hoople, and collaborated with artists such as John Lennon, the band Queen, and Mick Jagger, with whom he had been romantically linked.
In 1993 he told Rolling Stone magazine that declaring his bisexuality was “the biggest mistake” he ever made. He would later say he had “no problem with people knowing I was bisexual. But I had no inclination to hold any banners nor be a representative of any group of people.”
In 1996 Bowie was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and became the first musician to release a song for download. His 30th and final studio album, “Blackstar,” was released in 2016 just two days before he died of cancer.
Bowie was married twice to women, the second time to the model Iman (his widow). He was the father of a son and a daughter.
David Bowie was a trendsetting international rock icon who helped define androgyny.