Legendary music icon, innovator, actor, author, painter and performer David Bowie died Sunday evening at age 69, sending a shockwave through the entertainment industry. Born David Robert Jones on Jan. 8, 1947, in Brixton, London, Bowie’s career spanned five decades and continues to influence music today. Having sold an estimated 140 million albums worldwide, Bowie is noted for his unique voice, trend-setting fashion, successful reinvention of himself throughout his career and musical genius, which inspired generations of artists.
2001: A Space Oddity—Released in July, 1969, Bowie’s first hit was a paean to space, drawing inspiration from the space race between the U.S. and Russia and the Arthur C. Clarke bestseller “2001: A Space Odyssey.” It’s a subject that would continue to haunt his music thereafter.
Starman—Bowie introduced his transgender glam-rock persona, Ziggy Stardust, with this tune from the album, “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.”
Fame—From the album “Young Americans,” this song became the Brit rocker’s first major crossover success with the U.S., hitting No. 1 on the Billboards charts, and signaled a radical shift in the performer’s style, which he called “Plastic Soul,” and alienated his UK fans.
Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy—This duet with legendary crooner Crosby seemed more than strange on paper. Several generations of music separated the two icons. But what resulted is one of the most beautiful musical pairings ever, showing the talent and versatility of the Brit rocker, and inspiring similar duets since (Lady Gaga and Tony Bennet, anyone?).
Under Pressure—With its iconic beat, stolen by Vanilla Ice for his 1990 hit “Ice Ice Baby,” this 1981 rock anthem paired Bowie with arena rock group Queen’s operatic lead singer, Freddie Mercury, another musical icon who died too young.
Let’s Dance—Released in 1983 on the album of the same name, this song was one of Bowie’s biggest hit singles, reaching No. 1 in the U.K., U.S. and various other countries.
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