David Bowie died today at the age of 69. The flamboyant, groundbreaking British rock star’s commitment to exploring many styles of music and his unique sense of style have influenced several generations of musicians.
5 Things You Might Not Know About David Bowie
- Bowie was born David Robert Jones, and often performed under the name Davy or Davie Jones in the 1960s. But he worried he might be confused with The Monkees’ singer Davy Jones, so he renamed himself for American frontiersman Jim Bowie in the mid-’60s.
- Bowie was born with blue eyes, but when he was 15, a schoolmate punched him, leaving his left pupil permanently dilated. For the rest of Bowie’s life, that eye would appear either brown or blue depending on the light.
- In the 1970s, Bowie helped popularize glam-rock, a flamboyant gender-bending theatrical style, with his alter ego, Ziggy Stardust. But he later recorded disco, groundbreaking electronic experimental music, and, in the 1980s, straight-ahead pop-rock. Because of his restless refusal to remain chained to one style, Bowie was sometimes called the Chameleon of Rock.
- Bowie was introduced to his second wife, the Somali-born model Iman, in 1990. It was love at first sight for Bowie, and the couple married two years later. He proposed during a boat cruise on the Seine as they passed under the Pont Neuf.
- Bowie just released his 25th studio album, Blackstar, on January 8, his 69th birthday. (He shared that birthday with Elvis Presley.) Bowie’s final album, with a jazz focus, has been met with nearly universal critical acclaim.
David Bowie’s Biggest Hits (according to Billboard)
10. Young Americans (No. 28; 1975)
9. Never Let Me Down (No. 27; 1987)
8. Day-In Day-Out (No. 21; 1987)
7. Space Oddity (No. 15; 1973)
6. Modern Love (No. 14; 1983)
5. China Girl (No. 10; 1983)
4. Blue Jean (No. 8; 1984)
3. Dancing in the Street (with Mick Jagger) (No. 7; 1985)
2. Let’s Dance (No. 1 for one week; 1983)
1. Fame (No. 1 for two weeks; 1975)
Keith Harris has written about music and pop culture for more than 20 years. His work has appeared in publications such as Rolling Stone, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Slate and Salon. He lives in Minneapolis and blogs at usefulnoise.wordpress.com.
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