Nobody in rock ‘n’ roll history has changed his public persona with as much success as David Bowie. He started in the mid ‘60s as a British folksinger before shifting course, becoming a psych-pop rocker with a thing for space aliens. By the early ‘70s, he had made another change, this time taking on a character – a drug-snorting narcissistic rock star from outer space named Ziggy Stardust who looked and acted a lot like David Bowie – who became the center of the glam-rock movement and Bowie’s greatest creation. He tried on other roles over the years, including American soul man and European electronic-music pioneer, while shaping the careers of Mott the Hoople, Iggy Pop and Lou Reed. He had the biggest-selling album of his career in 1983 with ‘Let’s Dance’ as a New Wave pop star. In 2013, after a 10-year break, he made a triumphant return with ‘The Next Day.’
How David Bowie Found Himself on His Second Self-Titled LP
At this point, he'd been kicking around the London music scene for five years.
40 Years Ago: Black Rock Icon Shapes David Bowie's 'Modern Love'
Hint: It wasn't Nile Rodgers.
Why Stones' 'Angie' Was Rumored to Be About Jagger-Bowie Tryst
Fans have speculated for years that band's frontman wrote the song to appease Angela Bowie.
How David Bowie's 'Rebel Rebel' Inspired a Hit Country Song
The 1974 track served as the basis for Chris Young's "Young Love & Saturday Nights."
The Night That David Bowie Abruptly Retired Ziggy Stardust
His most famous – and career-defining – alter ego disappeared after a triumphant sold-out concert in London.
40 Years Ago: David Bowie Reclaims 'China Girl' for Himself
Co-writer Iggy Pop had already released a widely ignored earlier version.
David Bowie's 'Aladdin Sane': 50 Glam Facts You May Not Know
This was his most commercially successful album at that point, reaching No. 1 in the U.K. and No. 17 in the U.S.
How David Bowie Returned, Ziggy-Like, for 'Aladdin Sane'
He was back with a variation, just a few months before shoving the character in a closet.
Inside David Bowie's Freewheeling Sessions for 'Aladdin Sane'
"It's as fresh as it was then," his trusted pianist Mike Garson says.