David Bowie has passed away today, January 11th, after a long battle with cancer. With no more than 25 studio albums under his belt, Bowie will be celebrated as one of the greatest influencers on modern music, on rock, pop, soul, folk and even electronic music. He is the man who singlehandedly created an icon of himself by re-inventing his stage persona and image, and by pushing the musical boundaries of his time, keeping him relevant during the full span of his professional career that lasted half a century.
The 69-year-old singer’s death was confirmed in a Facebook post from his official page:
“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.”
David Bowie can be seen as somebody with great leverage in the development and popularisation of many genres and subgenres, including electronic music. He gained his first real acclaim in his early seventies glam-rock period that had produced legendary records such as Hunky Dory (1971), Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars (1972) and Aladdin Sane (1973), creating a string of hits in rapid succession, like Life On Mars?, Jean Genie, Drive-in Saturday and Starman. After ditching his androgynous alter ego Ziggy Stardust, Bowie took to shaking up the world of funk and soul with his next album, Young Americans, which that paid homage to the genre in its own unique way. Like Fame, its timeless closing track that gets just about anybody’s juices flowing.
He cut his following American period short as ‘The Thin White Duke’ due to heavy drug excesses, weight loss and depression. He moved to the then bustling and anarchic West-Berlin instead, being the first notable artist to do so and thereby setting the trend for countless other, including the huge numbers of DJ/producers who are all trying their luck in the German capital right now. It was here that Bowie began producing his iconic ‘Berlin Trilogy’ (Low, Heroes and Lodger), together with longterm studio partner Tony Visconti. In 1977 Low came out – the same year as electronic pioneers Kraftwerk released their seminal Trans-Europe Express – which featured songs that relied heavily on synthesizers and electronic experimentation, like in Art Decade or the dystopian Warszawa. It was to be one the most experimental periods in his life.
During the eighties Bowie took a more commercial turn, like teaming up with the megastar producer of the time Nile Rodgers to make Let’s Dance, or his Queen collaboration with Under Pressure. Putting Bowie back in the spotlight once more. The nineties would see him steadily releasing new records every few years.
Bowie took a step back in the 2000s after suffering a heart attack. His last live performance was at a 2006 charity show in New York.
In a 2002 interview, Bowie had said: “My entire career, I’ve only really worked with the same subject matter. 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 one’s life.”
Bowie leaves his wife Iman, with whom he had been married since 1992, and his two children Duncan and Alexandria.