Musician, actor and cultural trendsetter, the great David Bowie was one of the few artists who managed to legitimately transcend pop consciousness – he was his own thing. He was David Bowie.
Born David Jones on January 8, 1947, Bowie changed his name in order to avoid confusion with The Monkees star Davy Jones. He blasted onto the music scene in 1969 with Space Oddity and continued to dominate the medium until his death (his last album Blackstar was released just before his death in 2016).
A pioneer of the Glam Rock movement, Bowie constantly changed his image and sound, concluding the 1970s with his electronic Berlin trilogy (Low, Heroes and Lodger). His unique look saw him move into acting, and he starred in a variety of films including Nicolas Roeg’s The Man Who Fell To Earth, Tony Scott’s vampire debut The Hunger, Merry Christmas Mister Lawrence, Jim Henson’s Labyrinth, Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ and Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige.
The Hunger starred Catherine Deneuve and as vampire lovers who get caught-up in a relationship with Susan Sarandon‘s gerontologist. Based on the novel by Whitley Strieber, the film was unsuccessful at the box office, but it did highlight the director’s visual style – it’s glorious to look at and loaded with atmosphere. A European-style erotic art film which is dressed as a horror, it was a film ahead of its time. However, its financial failure – a $5.9 million gross in the US – saw Scott return to directing commercials. One of these commercials caught the eye of producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, who decided that Scott had the visual panache to direct their next feature, the Tom Cruise starrer Top Gun.
Bowie pushed boundaries throughout his career, although not all of these boundaries were in the realm of music or film. He was an internet pioneer with BowieNet, an online platform and internet provider which helped him engage with his fans. It was a massive hit throughout the 1990s, although it was officially ‘Kaput’ by 2006.
David Bowie was a musical titan throughout his career and his death from liver cancer on 10 January 2016 reverberated across the world. He was a real one of a kind.