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David Bowie: 7 ways the Starman changed music forever

The king of innovation and the master of ch-ch-change

By Jess Denham

Published 11/01/2016

David Bowie, who has died following an 18-month battle with cancer.
David Bowie, who has died following an 18-month battle with cancer.
David Bowie
FILE - JANUARY 11; 2016: David Bowie Dies At Age 69 9th July 1973: Pop singer David Bowie is seen off at the station by his wife Angie. (Photo by Smith/Express/Getty Images)
FILE - In this June 7, 2010 file photo, David Bowie attends the 2010 CFDA Fashion Awards in New York. Bowie, the innovative and iconic singer whose illustrious career lasted five decades, died Monday, Jan. 11, 2015, after battling cancer for 18 months. He was 69. (AP Photo/Peter Kramer, File)
File photo dated 10/04/87 of David Bowie, who has died following an 18-month battle with cancer. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday January 11, 2016. See PA story DEATH Bowie. Photo credit should read: PA Wire
File photo dated 01/12/93 of the Princess of Wales, Patron of the National Aids Trust, shaking hands with pop superstar David Bowie, who has died following an 18-month battle with cancer. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday January 11, 2016. See PA story DEATH Bowie. Photo credit should read: Martin Keene/PA Wire
Screen grabbed image taken from the Twitter feed of Duncan Jones @ManMadeMoon of a tribute he paid to his father David Bowie, who has died after suffering cancer for 18 months. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday January 11, 2016. See PA story DEATH Bowie. Photo credit should read: Duncan Jones/Twitter/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
(FILES) This file photo taken on April 1, 1976 shows British singer David Bowie is pictured, in April 1976, in Helsinki. British rock music legend David Bowie has died after a long battle with cancer, his official Twitter and Facebook accounts said on January 11, 2016. Bowie died on Januray 10 surrounded by family according to his social media accounts. The iconic musician had turned 69 only on January 8, which coincided with the release of "Blackstar", his 25th studio album. / AFP / LEHTIKUVA / STRINGERSTRINGER/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on January 23, 1990 shows British singer David Bowie presenting himself to a press conference in London to announce his new world tour due to start in Canada in March, and will take in five continents and will close in August . British rock music legend David Bowie has died after a long battle with cancer, his official Twitter and Facebook accounts said on January 11, 2016. Bowie died on Januray 10 surrounded by family according to his social media accounts. The iconic musician had turned 69 only on January 8, which coincided with the release of "Blackstar", his 25th studio album. / AFP / JOHNNY EGGITTJOHNNY EGGITT/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on September 24, 2002 shows British musician David Bowie performing in Paris. British rock music legend David Bowie has died after a long battle with cancer, his official Twitter and Facebook accounts said on January 11, 2016. Bowie died on Januray 10 surrounded by family according to his social media accounts. The iconic musician had turned 69 only on January 8, which coincided with the release of "Blackstar", his 25th studio album. / AFP / MARTIN BUREAUMARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on April 20, 1992 shows British singer David Bowie says a prayer for Freddie Mercury after singing a song in front of the 72,000 people gathered, at Wembley Stadium, in London to attend the Aids benefit concert. British rock music legend David Bowie has died after a long battle with cancer, his official Twitter and Facebook accounts said on January 11, 2016. Bowie died on Januray 10 surrounded by family according to his social media accounts. The iconic musician had turned 69 only on January 8, which coincided with the release of "Blackstar", his 25th studio album. / AFP / THIERRY SALIOUTHIERRY SALIOU/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on November 5, 2003 shows British singer David Bowie performs on stage during his concert at the Sportpaleis of Antwerp. British rock music legend David Bowie has died after a long battle with cancer, his official Twitter and Facebook accounts said on January 11, 2016. Bowie died on Januray 10 surrounded by family according to his social media accounts. The iconic musician had turned 69 only on January 8, which coincided with the release of "Blackstar", his 25th studio album. / AFP / BELGA / PETER DE VEOCHTPETER DE VEOCHT/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on July 1, 2002 shows British singer David Bowie performing in Paris during his only Paris gig. British rock music legend David Bowie has died after a long battle with cancer, his official Twitter and Facebook accounts said on January 11, 2016. Bowie died on Januray 10 surrounded by family according to his social media accounts. The iconic musician had turned 69 only on January 8, which coincided with the release of "Blackstar", his 25th studio album. / AFP / BERTRAND GUAYBERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on October 14, 1999 shows British rock star posing October 14, 1999 in Paris during a press conference. British rock music legend David Bowie has died after a long battle with cancer, his official Twitter and Facebook accounts said on January 11, 2016. Bowie died on Januray 10 surrounded by family according to his social media accounts. The iconic musician had turned 69 only on January 8, which coincided with the release of "Blackstar", his 25th studio album. / AFP / ERIC FEFERBERGERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on February 17, 1974 shows British rock star David Bowie, with his wife Angela (Angie) and his son Zowie, after receiving an award for his latest record "Ziggy stardust" in Amsterdam. British rock music legend David Bowie has died after a long battle with cancer, his official Twitter and Facebook accounts said on January 11, 2016. Bowie died on Januray 10 surrounded by family according to his social media accounts. The iconic musician had turned 69 only on January 8, which coincided with the release of "Blackstar", his 25th studio album. / AFP / STRINGERSTRINGER/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on February 13, 1997 shows rock music superstar David Bowie (R) and his wife, supermodel Iman smile as they pose for photos after Bowie received a star on the world famous Walk of Fame 12 February in Hollywood, CA. Bowie, whose changing persona has marked him as one of rock music's most dynamic performers over the last three decades, recently released his latest album "Earthlings." British rock music legend David Bowie has died after a long battle with cancer, his official Twitter and Facebook accounts said on January 11, 2016. Bowie died on Januray 10 surrounded by family according to his social media accounts. The iconic musician had turned 69 only on January 8, which coincided with the release of "Blackstar", his 25th studio album. / AFP / VINCE BUCCIVINCE BUCCI/AFP/Getty Images
(FILES) This file photo taken on July 03, 1987 shows British singer David Bowie performing on stage during a concert in La Courneuve on July 3, 1987. British rock music legend David Bowie has died after a long battle with cancer, his official Twitter and Facebook accounts said on January 11, 2016. Bowie died on Januray 10 surrounded by family according to his social media accounts. The iconic musician had turned 69 only on January 8, which coincided with the release of "Blackstar", his 25th studio album. / AFP / BERTRAND GUAYBERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images
FILE - JANUARY 11; 2016: David Bowie Dies At Age 69 3rd February 1973: David Bowie (David Robert Jones) pop star and actor. (Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images)
FILE - JANUARY 11; 2016: David Bowie Dies At Age 69 NEW YORK - JUNE 07: David Bowie attends the 2010 CFDA Fashion Awards at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center on June 7, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)
Lord Snowdon's portrait of David Bowie will feature in the new exhibition at National Portrait Gallery

David Bowie has “died peacefully” from cancer aged 69 after releasing his final album Blackstar last Friday.

His son confirmed the sad news after a statement from his publicist released the following statement at 6.30am this morning: “David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18 month battle with cancer. While many of you will share in this loss, we ask that you respect the family’s privacy during their time of grief.”

To say Bowie was a rock music pioneer is an understatement from a man who constantly reinvented himself while always staying icily cool, colourfully flamboyant and relentlessly iconic.

From Aladdin Zane to Ziggy Stardust to finally just Bowie, stripped back, he changed the face of music forever as the overwhelming flood of tributes prove.

Let's take a moment to remember the many ways he did it:

He gave everyday kids belief that anything could be magical

Ziggy Stardust was born David Jones in Brixton and the Spiders from Mars came from working class Hull families.

Not so glamourous, but important in proving to aspiring young musicians that art and creativity can make even the most mundane of hometowns and livelihoods sparkle.

His Top of the Pops performance in 1972

One of the most inspirational, influential live performances ever, Bowie's rendition of “Starman” on 6 July 1972 broke boundaries not only in music but also in fashion (that red hair and jumpsuit, what's not to like?) and general pop culture.

It was as if an extraterrestial had landed on earth, and everybody welcomed him.

He constantly reinvented not only his sound but his whole persona

Nobody can ever call Bowie boring.

Many bands have kept fans on their toes by changing their style with each new album but the “Space Oddity” singer repeatedly pushed that further, showing no fear of deserters and keeping everyone enthralled with his realisation of their fantasies.

He was Ziggy Stardust, Thin White Duke, Aladdin Sane, The Man Who Fell to Earth. He was the master of ch-ch-change and innovation was his middle name.

He took the Spiders from Mars to the ballet to learn a thing or too about stage lighting

Bowie's live performances were all-encompassing, they sucked everybody in and gave fans an out-of-body experience. But the atmosphere created by his shows was groundbreaking in itself.

Bowie took his bandmates to the ballet so they could see how multi-coloured lighting brought new life and mood to the show, when at the time rock music relied only on reds and greens.

“Space Oddity” was used by the BBC in its coverage of the moon landing

Bowie originally hesitated to grant permission for the song to be used for such a historical moment in case the Apollo 11 landing in 1969 failed.

“Space Oddity” is about astronaut Major Tom being left floating through space forever, so we can understand his concern. Fortunately, it proved the right decision.

He invented his own language for “Subterraneans”

The closing track of Bowie's 1977 album Low is mostly instrumental but includes lyrics sung in a completely self-invented language towards the end. Bowie said at the time that he had become “intolerably bored” of standard rock'n'roll lyrics and seems to have turned instead to a “cut-up” technique made famous by an icon of his, William S Burroughs.

Linear notes from the release state the lyrics as being:

Share bride failing star

care-line

care-line

care-line

care-line riding me

Shirley, Shirley, Shirley, own

Share bride failing star

He released an online-only song in 1996

With no limits to his pioneering ways, Bowie released “Telling Lies” on the internet only. There was no wireless in 1996 and it would have taken fans more than 10 minutes to download it over dial-up. One year later he launched his own ISP, Bowienet.

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