There’s no doubt that some millennials may have heard the name “David Bowie” for the first time on news and social media websites following the musician’s untimely death Sunday. But to music lovers of Generation X, the name “Ziggy Stardust” rings a familiar, melancholic bell.
Ziggy, of course, was only one of David Bowie’s many musical personas. As a musician in the 1970s, he stood as one of the leading figures of glam rock. He was unusual, eccentric and unabashedly devoted to defying the norm in terms of music, sexuality and, of course, fashion. In his androgynous Ziggy Stardust persona, Bowie incorporated the flashy professional makeup and idiosyncratic costumes that epitomized his art’s lack of restrictions. As Ziggy, Bowie produced rich melodies with introspective lyrics that captured the heart and soul of what it meant to be a free, open-minded spirit. He mystified generations of music lovers with his eponymous studio album, which has been highly ranked by numerous magazines and critics.
For years, Bowie vitalized the glam rock industry with successful albums and singles such as “Space Oddity” and “Starman,” leaving an indelible mark on the world of rock and popular music. Following the breakup of the Spiders from Mars, Ziggy’s band, Bowie experimented with other genres such as soul and funk, spawning his new alter ego, the Thin White Duke, a cabaret-style gentleman with an overbearing personality, yet another example of Bowie’s exploration of his own character and emotions.
For decades, Bowie continued creating hit after hit, boasting an incredibly successful discography consisting of singles and albums such as “Heroes,” “The Man Who Sold the World,” and “Let’s Dance,” many of which have been widely covered by artists and bands such as Nirvana, Beck and The Smashing Pumpkins, each of whom have claimed to have been influenced by Bowie. Bowie also collaborated with renowned artists like John Lennon, Freddie Mercury and Iggy Pop, furthering cementing his legacy as a popular rock musician.
In his later years, Bowie experimented with electronic music, becoming more adventurous by the year as he continued to stray away from popular music and into more avant-garde territory. His final album, “Blackstar,” released only two days before his death, is a hauntingly brilliant testament to the creativity of his life’s work, catering to those who admired Bowie for the maverick that he was and his legendary presence.
With his departure, there’s no doubt that fans all across the globe will be replaying his greatest songs for weeks to come, introducing Bowie’s artistry to a brand new generation of music lovers while bolstering the popularity of his final album. While the man behind the music may be gone, Bowie, Ziggy, the Thin White Duke and so forth, will certainly live on.
David Bowie is survived by his second wife and children.
Feature photo courtesy Pixabay user egonkling.