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David Bowie is an English rock star known for dramatic musical transformations, including his character Ziggy Stardust. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.
David Bowie - Full Biography (45:20)
David Bowie - Berlin (2:36)
David Bowie shocked the world as the androgynous glam-rock icon Ziggy Stardust. The man who made make-up cool, he's best known for his hits "Under Pressure" and "Space Oddity."
Mick Rock talks about the photo of David Bowie that became legendary.
The Editor-in-Cheif of Blender Magazine talks about why Berlin was the perfect place for Bowie to perform.
Entertainment aficionados talk about Bowie's first film.
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In addition the album also featured two hits: "Hunky Dory," a tribute to Andy Warhol, the Velvet Underground and Bob Dylan; and "Changes," which came to embody Bowie himself.
As Bowie's celebrity profile increased, so did his desire to keep fans and critics guessing. He claimed he was gay and then introduced the pop world to Ziggy Stardust, Bowie's imagining of a doomed rock star, and his backing group, The Spiders from Mars.
His 1972 album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, made him a superstar. Dressed in wild costumes that spoke of some kind of wild future, Bowie, portraying Stardust himself, signaled a new age in rock music, one that seemed to officially announce the end of the 1960s and the Woodstock era.
But just as quickly as Bowie transformed himself into Stardust, he changed again. He leveraged his celebrity and produced albums for Lou Reed and Iggy Pop. In 1973 he disbanded the Spiders, shelved Stardust and announced he was through with live shows.
Around this time he showed his affection for his early days in the English mod scene and released Pin Ups, an album filled with cover songs originally recorded by a host of popular bands, including Pretty Things and Pink Floyd.
By the mid 1970s Bowie had undergone a full-scale makeover. Gone were the outrageous costumes and garish sets. In two short years he released the albums David Live (1974) and Young Americans (1975). The latter album featured backing vocals by a young Luther Vandross and included the song "Fame," co-written with John Lennon, which became Bowie’s first American number one single.
In 1980 Bowie, now living in New York, released Scary Monsters, a much-lauded album that featured the single "Ashes to Ashes," a sort of updated version of his earlier "Space Oddity."
Three years later Bowie, with a new contract with RCA, recorded Let's Dance (1983), an album that contained a bevy of hits such as the title track, "Modern Love" and "China Girl," and featured the guitar work of Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Of course, Bowie's interests didn't just reside with music. His love of film helped land him the title role in The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), and later The Elephant Man (1980).
Over the next decade, Bowie bounced back and forth between acting and music, with the latter especially suffering. Outside of a couple of modest hits, Bowie's musical career languished. The albums Tin Machine (1989) and Tin Machine II (1991) proved to be flops, while his much-hyped album Black Tie White Noise (1993), which Bowie described as a wedding gift to his new wife, supermodel Iman, also struggled to resonate with record buyers.
Oddly enough, the most popular Bowie creation of late has been Bowie Bonds, financial securities the artist himself backed with royalties from his pre-1990 work. Bowie issued the bonds in 1997 and earned $55 million from the sale. The rights to his back catalog were returned to him when the bonds matured in 2007.
In 2004 Bowie received a major health scare when he suffered a heart attack while onstage in Germany.
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