David Bowie

Back Story

  • BORN: January 8, 1947. London, UK
  • GENRES: Rock, glam, pop
  • YEARS ACTIVE: 1962-present

Famously, David Bowie has changed styles with more frequency than a Parisian fashion house. All the more impressive, then, that his catalogue - the most wide-ranging in popular music by some stretch - comes indelibly marked with his unique signature.

Ostensibly, there's very little that unites, say, 1971’s Hunky Dory and 1997’s Earthling, either in terms of sound, theme or vision. But, taking his cue from pop artist Andy Warhol, Bowie significantly advanced the rock-star-as-brand concept, uniting it with a musical credo that insisted, sometimes jarringly so, on constant change. The approach has spawned numerous imitators – from Madonna to U2 – though none with a trademark of such quality that classic sets such as Let’s Dance and Young Americans fall short of inclusion here...(continues below)


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It’s a feat that even the similarly prolific Rolling Stones would struggle to rival. But unlike the Stones, who rarely swerve far from the rock’n’roll highway, Bowie has revelled in the scenic route: Dylan-inspired poetic pop (David Bowie), dystopian disco (Station To Station), piano-pumping songsmithery (Hunky Dory), subterranean rock’n’roll pastiche (…Ziggy Stardust…), cold wave trailblazer (Low) and, memorably, mainstream pop idol (Let’s Dance).

“I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.”

David Bowie

Let’s not forget that for much of his first decade, Bowie’s creative antennae were largely attuned to the guessing game of pop trending clairvoyancy. But after July 1973, when Ziggy risked all by killing off the Spiders at the peak of his glam-era infamy, Bowie’s career has largely been a series of deliberate, elaborately staged vignettes. Not every makeover has been blessed with his best balance of vision and bravado, as the continued ridicule heaped upon his mid- and late-’80s work confirms. These momentary lapses of taste aside, and as his excellent, emotional 2013 comeback album The Next Day only confirmed, Bowie has never been a bland brand - always a class act.