We are one of the many who are deeply saddened by the passing of music legend David Bowie.
Bowie, David Robert Jones in real life, succumbed to cancer on January 10. The music icon battled the illness for 18 months. He was 69.
Before his death, the British entertainment figure released his 27th and last album, Blackstar, on January 8, coincidentally also his last birthday.
After the tragic announcement, messages of mourning—particularly on social media—came pouring in from around the world. Contemporaries, peers, and fans alike paid their respects. Some even shared their most fascinating stories about the man formerly known as Ziggy Stardust.
Together with the heart-warming praises and condolences came the reminders of the things that made him one of the most extraordinary and controversial artists who has ever lived.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer was never the kind of person to shy away from the spotlight. Bowie was one of the few people who were able to reinvent themselves time and again, successfully transcending the realms of music, movies, art, and fashion. The two-time Grammy award-winner is also highly credited for shaping modern pop.
His works, especially his 1972 masterpiece The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, were treated as milestones in music history. His songs—like "Space Oddity," "Changes," "Fame," "Heroes," and "Modern Love"—were considered as timeless anthems, and are still being played on the radio, inspiring musicians everywhere.
With his death, all the things that helped him immortalize his status—the good, the bad, and infamous stories that made the English singer a rock god—are now coming back to the spotlight.
Join us as we go through the legend of a man that transcended art itself.
- Bowie sold an estimated 140 million albums and earned massive recognitions throughout his career. In the United Kingdom, he was awarded nine Platinum, 11 Gold, and eight Silver albums. In the United States, he had five Platinum albums and seven Gold albums.
- In the BBC's 2002 poll of the 100 Greatest Britons, he was ranked 29th. He was also ranked by Rolling Stone Magazine as 39th on their 100 Greatest Rock Artists of All Time. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on January 1996 and was named a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame on June 2013.
- Bowie learned playing the piano at only 10 years old and formed his first band, called the Konrads, at the age of 15.
- When he was 17, he founded a group called The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Long-Haired Men. He was interviewed on a BBC program and stated his cause saying, "It's not nice when people call you darling and that."
- Bowie's spaceman alter-ego, Ziggy Stardust, was the culmination of his experience in miming and theater, fascination with Japanese Kabuki, love for pop music, and his fondness for sci-fi.
- Aside from Ziggy, his other alter-egos were Major Tom, Aladdin Sane, the Thin White Duke, Tao Jones, Halloween Jack, and John Merrick.
- Bowie might have predicted his death. In his last single "Lazarus," Bowie opened the song with the lyrics, "Look up here / I'm in heaven."
- Bowie pioneered the use of the Internet in sharing music with his fans through his site BowieNet in 1996. He was also among the first artists who predicted the future of music streaming. His single "Telling Lies" was the first-ever downloadable track by a major artist.
- He was instrumental in bringing down the Berlin Wall. In 1987, back when Germany was still divided by the infamous barricade of bricks, Bowie performed in front of the Berlin Wall. It resulted to one of the most important concerts ever as he sang for both the West and East Germans during a time when they were forcibly divided.
- Bowie also claimed that he was the first to "moonwalk," doing so a decade before Michael Jackson did in "Billie Jean" in 1983.
- Morrisey, frontman of The Smiths, shared that Bowie used to tell him, "You know, I've had so much sex and drugs that I can't believe I'm still alive."
- In the book Bowie: The Biography written by Wendy Leigh, the singer was described as a sex adventurer, citing rumored relationships with Elizabeth Taylor, Marianne Faithfull, and Susan Sarandon.
- Bowie shares the same birthday (January 8) with Elvis Presley.
- Speaking of Elvis, the King of Rock and Roll once considered recording a cover version of Bowie's 1976 hit, "The Golden Years."
- His eyes, being of different colors, were not just for aesthetic purposes. He had a case of heterochromia. His right eye is brown in color while his left eye appears to have a shade of blue. His left eye also became permanently dilated after he caught a hard punch from a friend because of a girl.
- He made a special appearance in Spongebob Squarepants in 2007. He played the part of the Lord Royal Highness in the "Atlantis Squarepantis" episode. Lord Royal's eyes were also of different colors.
- Speaking of special appearances, Bowie also played the role of Pontius Pilate in Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ.
- He refused being inducted into the British Order Of Knights in 2003. He declined the honor of being knighted saying, "I would never have any intention of accepting anything like that. I seriously don't know what it's for. It's not what I spent my life working for."
- Bowie never performed his 1981 hit "Under Pressure" in front of a live audience until The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert for Aids Awareness on April 20, 1992. The Eurhythmics' Annie Lennox subbed in for Queen's frontman (who died of complications from AIDS on November 1991):
- In 1999, a new species of spiders was discovered in Malaysia and named after him. It's called Heteropoda Davidbowie.
- Bowie has inspired many of today's artists—from not-so-ordinary divas like Madonna and Lady Gaga, to top artists of different genres like U2 and Jay-Z. The list goes on and on.
See you on the other side of the universe, Spaceman!
Images from Theguardian.com, Dailymail.co.uk, and Buzzfeed.com