Pillbox

David Bowie always marched to his own tune

David Bowie was a revolutionary musician. He lived a very controversial life, right from his coming out as gay with the emergence of his alter ego Ziggy Stardust to later calling his coming out the biggest mistake he ever made. However, one thing remained true: his musical talent far surpasses any controversy surrounding his sexuality. From Hunky Dory to Heroes, David Bowie has a very diverse discography.

His debut album, David Bowie, was released in 1967. However it wasn’t until the 1969 release of Space Oddity that his music began to achieve commercial success. His follow-up album Hunky Dory was not as successful at the time, but it featured probably one of his most successful songs, “Changes.” This album also featured songs such as “Andy Warhol” and “Song for Bob Dylan,” which honor some of Bowie’s influences.

In 1972, David Bowie emerged as Ziggy Stardust, a flamboyant character with pale skin and red hair. He launched a stage show with the Spiders from Mars. The stage show was immediately successful and launched Bowie into the spotlight. He began touring the United Kingdom, until the show eventually came to the United States. If there was ever an artist to define the British punk movement, it was David Bowie. He was unafraid to wear or say just about anything and Ziggy Stardust definitely showed this through his extravagant costumes.

David Bowie was also very much a product of his environment in the 70s. He reveled in the sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle that seemed to follow musicians of that era around. After coming out in 1972, he later said in 1983 that he was straight and that his interest in homosexuality was a reaction to the situation he was in as Ziggy Stardust. There were even rumors of a possible relationship between him and Mick Jagger — which aren’t hard to believe if you’ve ever seen their “Dancing in the Street” music video. Bowie also had a colorful history with politics and even claimed to support fascism and showed admiration for Adolf Hitler at one point in his life. He later chalked this up to drug abuse. He also struggled to find acceptance through religion and was turned away from Buddhism and told to follow music. Following his marriage to model Iman (formally Iman Mohamed Abdulmajid), he claimed to have a reignited relationship with God. His religious stance however was never clear as he tossed back and forth between atheism and believing in God.

The most notable thing that David Bowie did in his career was pioneer glam rock. His appearance was almost as important as his music. He was the link between punk rock and pop. With such a vast discography and wide range of different yet unique musical stylings, Bowie was one of the most important pop culture references of his time. He was heavily influenced by art and it clearly showed in his music. His sound was very experimental and pushed the boundaries of what was considered rock ‘n’ roll at the time. He also pushed the boundaries of pop music with his new wave sound. It’s hard to classify Bowie’s music as just belonging to one genre because he did both pop and punk so well.

In addition to making music, Bowie also had quite the extensive film career; he even received a Saturn Award for Best Actor for his role as Thomas Jerome Newton in The Man Who Fell to Earth. There have been several documentaries made about him over the course of his lifetime because of the interesting life he led. Everyone wanted to know more about David Bowie: from his days as Ziggy Stardust to his experimental sound, he always found a way to keep audiences intrigued.

David Bowie passed away on Jan. 10, 2016 at the age of 69 from liver cancer. He had not made his battle with cancer known to the public at the time. This came two days after the release of his album Blackstar and at the the tail end of his tenure in Lazarus, a Broadway musical. There might never be another star that does what he was able to do for not only punk rock and pop, but all pop culture in general. After over fifty years in the music industry, he became a cultural icon that has left behind fans spanning several generations.