|In this Sept. 14, 1995, file photo, David Bowie performs during a concert in Hartford, Conn. Bowie, the innovative and iconic singer whose illustrious career lasted five decades, died Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016, after battling cancer for 18 months. He was 69. (AP Photo/Bob Child, File)|
NEW YORK (AP) — David
Bowie made clear, in a way that was exhilarating and sometimes
frightening, what every rock star since Elvis Presley and Little Richard
had been telling us all along — that anything was possible.
his unpredictable range of styles, his melding of European jadedness
with American rhythms and his ever-changing personas and wardrobes, the
gaunt and erudite Bowie brought an open theatricality and androgyny to
popular music that changed the very meaning of being a rock star.
album to album, and concert to concert, fans were never sure how he
would look — in black leather and a pompadour; in makeup and orange hair
as his alter ego Ziggy Stardust; shirtless and wearing a Mohawk; or
elegant and debauched in a dark vest and white shirt, cigarette dangling
from his mouth, taking in the uncertainty of modern life.
entire career, I've only really worked with the same subject matter,"
Bowie, whose death was announced early Monday, told The Associated Press
in a 2002 interview. "The trousers may change, but the actual words and
subjects I've always chosen to write with are things to do with
isolation, abandonment, fear and anxiety — all of the high points of
Representative Steve Martin said that Bowie died "peacefully" surrounded by family after battling cancer for 18 months.
many of you will share in this loss, we ask that you respect the
family's privacy during their time of grief," the statement read. No
more details were provided.
Bowie turned 69 on Friday, the same
day he released a new album called "Blackstar." He also released a music
video on Friday for the song "Lazarus," which showed him frail and
lying in bed, eyes bandaged. The song begins with the line: "Look up
here, I'm in heaven."
To millions of fans, his
appeal was on all levels — visually, intellectually, sonically. He was
as likely to quote Friedrich Nietzsche as he was to refer to an old pop
song. He was a writer, a musician and producer. He was also one of the
first rock stars to receive serious critical attention as a stage
performer, for "The Elephant Man," and as a movie actor for "Merry
Christmas Mr. Lawrence" and "The Man Who Fell to Earth" among others.
Years before the rise of MTV, he was using videos not just for
promotion, but for creating narratives and expanding on the themes
implicit in the music.
"What I'm most proud of is that I can't
help but notice that I've affected the vocabulary of pop music. For me,
frankly, as an artist, that's the most satisfying thing for the ego," he
said in the 2002 interview.
Mick Jagger, Lou Reed and Freddie
Mercury were among the many artists who collaborated with Bowie and were
influenced by him. He was a central figure in the "Glam Rock" wave of
the mid-1970s, and a key influence of the disco era and on Madonna and
the other visually-oriented performers who rose with MTV in the 1980s.
tense, wiry voice, capable of a baritone croon or falsetto shriek,
proved as suited for the groove-based hits "Let's Dance" and "Modern
Love" as for the sci-fi drama of "Space Oddity."
Bowie also wrote
the glam rock anthem "All the Young Dudes" for Mott the Hoople, worked
with John Lennon on the James Brown-styled funk of "Fame" and brought in
a young Luther Vandross as a backup singer on his hit "Young
Americans." Vandross and Bowie co-wrote another song from the "Young
Americans" album, "Fascination."
When Bowie was inducted into the
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, David Byrne of Talking Heads spoke
at the ceremony and recalled being shocked the first time he saw him.
yet it was very familiar," Byrne said. "It was very necessary. It was
something that was needed. It was essential. And like all rock and roll,
it was tasteless, it was glamorous, it was perverse, it was fun, it was
crass, it was sexy, it was confusing."
Added Madonna, who
accepted the honor for Bowie: "Before I saw David Bowie live I was your
normal dysfunctional, rebellious teenager from the Midwest. He has truly
changed my life."
|In this Dec. 15, 2003 file photo, singer/songwriter David Bowie launches his United States leg of his worldwide tour called "A Reality Tour," at Madison Square Garden in New York. Bowie, the innovative and iconic singer whose illustrious career lasted five decades, died Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016, after battling cancer for 18 months. He was 69 (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)|
was born David Jones in London in 1947. He had an early and obvious
taste for music, design, art and dancing, and, like so many children of
the time, was profoundly moved by rock music. "I had heard God," was how
he described the impact of Little Richard's "Tutti Frutti."
his teens, he was performing in bands that played blues, folk,
contemporary pop and other kinds of music. But his early singles didn't
sell and he also suffered from being confused with a superstar of the
time, Davy Jones of the Monkees. He changed his last name to Bowie, after the knife identified with American frontiersman Jim Bowie.
In 1969, his perfectly timed single "Space Oddity," released soon
before the launch of the Apollo 11 mission that landed the first men on
the moon, became a top five hit in England.
Into the mid-1980s, he
was one of rock's top stars, with No. 1 albums including "Aladdin Sane"
and "Diamond Dogs" and the smash "Let's Dance," produced by Nile
Rodgers and featuring such hits as the title song and "Modern Love."
Other notable Bowie songs included "Blue Jean,"
''Golden Years" and "Heroes," which he performed at a concert for
rescue workers after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
kept a low profile in recent years after reportedly suffering a heart
attack in the 2000s. He made a moody album three years ago called "The
Next Day" — his first recording in a decade which was made in secret in
New York City. "Blackstar," which earned positive reviews from critics,
represented yet another stylistic shift, as he gathered jazz players to
He was uneasy with some of his greatest material, once
embarking on a "greatest hits" tour saying it would be the last time
performing much of his old material. He later relented, however.
not a natural performer," he said. "I don't enjoy performing terribly
much. Never have. I can do it and, if my mind's on the situation, do it
quite well. But five or six shows in, I'm dying to get off the road and
go back into the studio."
British Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted that Bowie's death is "a huge loss." He wrote he had grown up listening to and watching Bowie and called the singer a "master of reinvention" and a pop genius who kept on getting it right.
Kanye West said on Twitter that Bowie "was one of my most important inspirations, so fearless, so creative, he gave us magic for a lifetime."
was married twice, to the actress and model Mary Angela "Angie" Barnett
from 1970-80, and to international supermodel Iman since 1992. He had
two children — Duncan Jones and Alexandria Zahra Jones — one with each
|Flowers are left below a mural of David Bowie on the wall of a Morley's store in Brixton, London, the singer's birthplace, after the rock star died, Monday Jan. 11, 2016. Bowie, the iconic and shape-shifting British singer whose illustrious career lasted five decade with hits like "Fame," ''Heroes" and "Let's Dance," died Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016, after a battle with cancer. He was 69. (Anthony Devlin/PA via AP) UNITED KINGDOM OUT|
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