David Bowie dead: 7 ways the Starman changed music forever

The king of innovation and the master of ch-ch-change

Jess Denham
Monday 11 January 2016 08:13
Comments
David Bowie constantly reinvented himself, breaking boundaries in fashion, art and music
David Bowie constantly reinvented himself, breaking boundaries in fashion, art and music

David Bowie has “died peacefully” from cancer aged 69 after releasing his final album Blackstar last Friday.

His son confirmed the sad news after a statement from his publicist released the following statement at 6.30am this morning: “David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18 month battle with cancer. While many of you will share in this loss, we ask that you respect the family’s privacy during their time of grief.”

To say Bowie was a rock music pioneer is an understatement from a man who constantly reinvented himself while always staying icily cool, colourfully flamboyant and relentlessly iconic. From Aladdin Zane to Ziggy Stardust to finally just Bowie, stripped back, he changed the face of music forever as the overwhelming flood of tributes prove.

Let's take a moment to remember the many ways he did it:

He gave everyday kids belief that anything could be magical

Ziggy Stardust was born David Jones in Brixton and the Spiders from Mars came from working class Hull families. Not so glamourous, but important in proving to aspiring young musicians that art and creativity can make even the most mundane of hometowns and livelihoods sparkle.

His Top of the Pops performance in 1972

One of the most inspirational, influential live performances ever, Bowie's rendition of “Starman” on 6 July 1972 broke boundaries not only in music but also in fashion (that red hair and jumpsuit, what's not to like?) and general pop culture. It was as if an extraterrestial had landed on earth, and everybody welcomed him.

He constantly reinvented not only his sound but his whole persona

Nobody can ever call Bowie boring. Many bands have kept fans on their toes by changing their style with each new album but the “Space Oddity” singer repeatedly pushed that further, showing no fear of deserters and keeping everyone enthralled with his realisation of their fantasies. He was Ziggy Stardust, Thin White Duke, Aladdin Sane, The Man Who Fell to Earth. He was the master of ch-ch-change and innovation was his middle name.

=7 - David Bowie

British rock musician Bowie has also topped the albums chart 9 times, first with 'Aladdin Sane' in April 1973. 'Pin Ups' was next to peak at number one, in 1973, before 'Diamond Dogs' in 1974. 'Let's Dance' and 'The Next Day', released in March this year', are among Bowie's other chart-toppers.

He took the Spiders from Mars to the ballet to learn a thing or too about stage lighting

Bowie's live performances were all-encompassing, they sucked everybody in and gave fans an out-of-body experience. But the atmosphere created by his shows was groundbreaking in itself. Bowie took his bandmates to the ballet so they could see how multi-coloured lighting brought new life and mood to the show, when at the time rock music relied only on reds and greens.

“Space Oddity” was used by the BBC in its coverage of the moon landing

Bowie originally hesitated to grant permission for the song to be used for such a historical moment in case the Apollo 11 landing in 1969 failed. “Space Oddity” is about astronaut Major Tom being left floating through space forever, so we can understand his concern. Fortunately, it proved the right decision.

David Bowie passes away aged 69

He invented his own language for “Subterraneans”

The closing track of Bowie's 1977 album Low is mostly instrumental but includes lyrics sung in a completely self-invented language towards the end. Bowie said at the time that he had become “intolerably bored” of standard rock'n'roll lyrics and seems to have turned instead to a “cut-up” technique made famous by an icon of his, William S Burroughs.

Linear notes from the release state the lyrics as being:

Share bride failing star

care-line

care-line

care-line

care-line riding me

Shirley, Shirley, Shirley, own

Share bride failing star

He released an online-only song in 1996

With no limits to his pioneering ways, Bowie released “Telling Lies” on the internet only. There was no wireless in 1996 and it would have taken fans more than 10 minutes to download it over dial-up. One year later he launched his own ISP, Bowienet.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in