Legendary musician David Bowie died on Sunday after an 18-month battle with cancer, his publicist announced on Monday.
Bowie’s imagination and his fearless experiments with music made him an inspiration for thousands. How style of music influenced dozens of popular artists like, The Pixies, Morrissey, Queen, The Smiths, Nine Inch Nails, Lady Gaga and Arctic Monkeys.
Bowie himself was influenced by artists like Lou Reed, The Velvet Underground, Brian Eno and The Who.
Here’s our pick of 10 highlights from Bowie’s musical career:
10. Hallo Spaceboy
Released in 1995, Bowie’s album Outside received mixed reviews by critics and fans. Some described it as ‘noise’ and ‘clutter’, while others suggested that maybe the singer had gone to far with his musical experiments. One song stood out among all these criticisms. “Hallo Spaceboy” has Bowie asking “Don’t you want to be free?” to a heavy metallic tune with disjointed progressions and brash guitar riffs. The song was later remixed and additionally produced by the Pet Shop Boys to a disco tune that gets heavier and darker as the song progresses.
While recording his album Low, Bowie decided to drive his Mercedes “round and round the hotel garage” at a speed “touching close to 94”. He ended up in an accident, almost killing himself. The incident inspired Bowie to write this song, where he talks about how recklessly he handled his career.
8. Life on Mars
“Life on Mars” is a relatively simple song, by Bowie’s standards. It is characterised by the artist’s stunning display of vocals and guest piano work by keyboardist Rick Wakeman. BBC Radio 2 called the song, “a cross between a Broadway musical and a Salvador Dalí painting”.
7. Rebel, Rebel
Though many of his songs sound like a tripped-out flight in space or a perfect disco anthem, Bowie was an out-and-out rock and roll star. “Rebel, Rebel” saw Bowie playing a catchy guitar riff, and eventually became one of his most covered songs.
A late addition to Bowie’s widely popular album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, “Starman” is a mellow track with great melody. In a classic Bowie way, the song peaks at the chorus and is marked by distinctive guitar riffs. It’s the story of an alien Starman as told by Ziggy Stardust to Earth’s youth through the radio.
The title track of Bowie’s third album by the same name, “The Man Who Sold The World” was made popular after being covered by many artists, notably Nirvana. In an interview with BBC Radio 1, Bowie said, “That song for me always exemplified kind of how you feel when you’re young, when you know that there’s a piece of yourself that you haven’t really put together yet. You have this great searching, this great need to find out who you really are.”
The title track of his last album Blackstar, released on the music legend’s 69th birthday, is one of his darkest and most intense songs yet. His vocals remained stellar, accompanied by his trademark saxophone tune and a video that could give you goosebumps. The album has been hailed by most critics and is one his most experimental albums, yet.
Heroes is probably one of Bowie’s most popular songs, almost to the point that many identify him by it. Bowie sings about love to a deeply arousing tune that can induce a very passionate, deeply emotional response in the listener. The song is often referred to in a number of TV shows and movies — notably “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”.
“Though nothing, will keep us together; We could steal time, just for one day”
In his albums, Bowie painted vivid thematic stories and created fascinating leading characters that blended right in with his goosepimple — inducing voice and a plethora of melodies. Ziggy Stardust, Bowie’s lipstick-wearing ecccentric alter-ego, is one of the most popular characters created by the quick-change artist. In the song titled as his alter ego, Bowie is at his imaginative best in this mellow, beautiful electric melody.
1. Space Oddity
Bowie was fascinated with space, and it was obvious in almost all of his song. He wrote countless songs about space and getting lost in space, and “Space Oddity” is at the pinnacle of it all. His “Ground control to Major Tom” gets stuck in the head and plays itself over and over in a loop. The video shows Bowie simply sitting and strumming the guitar while a myriad of melodies unfurl in the background. Though Bowie has created countless hits in his musical career, “Space Oddity” remains enbeatable.
The track was released to coincide with the launch of the Apollo 11 moon landing, and was played by the BBC while it covered the event. In 2013, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield covered the song while in space and became an instant sensation.