David Bowie, 69

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Chameleon, comedian, Corinthian and caricature.

Throughout his life, English singer-songwriter David Bowie was a master of reinvention. With his unmistakable, plaintive croon, he remained authentic, even as he crossed boundaries from folk to glam rock to punk to electronica. Bowie stood apart in his ability to influence, not appropriate, different musical genres. A standard-bearer for gender fluidity, his many personas highlighted his aesthetic beauty and his comfort with experimentation.

"I'm not a prophet or a stone-aged man, just a mortal with potential of a superman. I'm living on."

- David Bowie, “Quicksand” lyrics


Born David Jones, Bowie changed his surname after The Monkees’ Davy Jones rose to fame. He was still known as Davie Jones when this photo was taken in 1965, one year after the release of his debut single.

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Bowie embraced androgyny during his many reinventions, as seen in this 1974 photo from a press conference at the Amstel Hotel in Amsterdam.

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Fresh off the commercial success of his glam-rock era, Bowie served as a key intellectual and creative influence on punk. Several of the genre’s acts took inspiration from his raw, snarly musicianship and spiky style.

"I fell in love with David Jones. I did not fall in love with David Bowie. Bowie is just a persona. He's a singer, an entertainer. David Jones is a man I met."

- Iman

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Married in 1992, Iman, one of the first black supermodels, and Bowie led a famously private life together. They spoke about their marriage only sparingly with media, with Bowie once saying he “just knew she was the one” when they met on a blind date.

Bowie had an uncanny sense of the future, making work that anticipated the world as it might be. In 1969, the year of the moon landing, he released his first hit, “Space Oddity,” a melancholy tale that singlehandedly captured the wonder and anxiety of the times. With BowieNet ISP, launched in 1998, he foresaw the potential of online music distribution and fan interaction. And before he succumbed to liver cancer in January, he penned his elegies on grief and mortality in his off-Broadway musical “Lazarus” and his final album, “Blackstar,” released two days before his death.

51 years length of career
£135 million estimated net worth
140 million albums sold since his first release in 1967

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A mural by Eduardo Kobra in Jersey City, N.J., depicts David Bowie in his Ziggy Stardust days. Bowie’s death prompted tributes from fans and artists who had felt his influence. Madonna wrote on Facebook that she “was so inspired by the way he played with gender confusion. Was both masculine and feminine. Funny and serious. Clever and wise.”

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