The Man Who Sold the World
How the ‘chameleon of rock’ ch-ch-ch-changed our world
David Robert Jones, better known as David Bowie, fell to the earth in 1947. His time on earth spanned 69 strong years — until the dawn of this year. With his recent passing it’s important for us all, and especially for me, as a life-long Bowie fan and admirer, to acknowledge just how much Bowie has influenced the modern world. Many musicians become so legendary that they reshape their respective genre, consider Tupac Shakur’s influence on the rap scene for instance, but few, if not any, can reshape multiple genres and fashion whilst empowering millions at the same time. Meet David Bowie.
Bowie entered the music scene in 1969 with the his breakout hit: “Space Oddity”. The song featured strong, genuine lyrics and told the tale of an astronaut, Major Tom, who is lost in space and ponders about life. The song was unique, mesmerizing and meaningful. The same could be said about the career that was about to unfold. Bowie went on to make 25 studio albums, 11 of them reaching #1 — An incredible feat. Bowie did not dwell in a single genre like most legends do. To the contrary, Bowie adopted a multitude of different genres and seemingly raised the bar while doing so. In the early days of his professional career, Bowie produced two ‘traditional’ rock albums: David Bowie and Hunky Dory. They both received outstanding success: Peaking at #3 in the UK and attaining certified gold and platinum. Bowie then began creating personas — characters that he ‘became’. His next album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, was a hit — and to this day one of the best rock albums of all time. The album followed the rise and fall of Ziggy Stardust, a fictional character portrayed by Bowie himself.
Ziggy Stardust mesmerized the mind of millions while redefining fashion. Ziggy would enlighten audiences with classic glam rock tracks that are still cherished today. Songs such as “Starman”, “Five Years” and “Ziggy Stardust” would set the bar for rock and fashion whilst inspiring many unique individuals, such as the award-winning musician: Lady Gaga.
Bowie, or Ziggy in this case, was an alien. He dared to push the
boundaries of what’s considered “okay” and “normal”. Even in today's modern, accepting world it’s difficult to present oneself visually like Bowie did — And this took place nearly 50 years ago. Bowie’s obsession with experimentation and music sought no stopping: Within the next couple years Bowie would put out some of the most memorable rock an pop albums of all time. These albums including labels such as “Aladdin Sane” (a pun for ‘A lad insane’), “Diamond Dogs” and “Pin Ups” — All being critically praised and reaching massive success.
It was during the mid-1970s Bowie toured America and fell in love with southern jazz and soul music. Naturally for Bowie, he then devoted his time and energy to his next album: “Young Americans”, a soul album. Despite his inexperience with the genre, Bowie once again shattered the billboards and established “Young Americans” as one of the best soul albums of the decade, and of all time.