142 Facts About David Bowie

1.

David Robert Jones, known professionally as David Bowie, was an English singer-songwriter and actor.

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2.

David Bowie was acclaimed by critics and musicians, particularly for his innovative work during the 1970s.

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3.

David Bowie's career was marked by reinvention and visual presentation, and his music and stagecraft had a significant impact on popular music.

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4.

David Bowie studied art, music and design before embarking on a professional career as a musician in 1963.

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5.

In 1975, David Bowie's style shifted towards a sound he characterised as "plastic soul", initially alienating many of his UK fans but garnering him his first major US crossover success with the number-one single "Fame" and the album Young Americans.

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6.

In 1976, David Bowie starred in the cult film The Man Who Fell to Earth and released Station to Station.

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7.

David Bowie achieved massive commercial success in the 1980s starting with Let's Dance .

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8.

David Bowie continued acting; his roles included Major Jack Celliers in Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence, Jareth the Goblin King in Labyrinth, Pontius Pilate in The Last Temptation of Christ, and Nikola Tesla in The Prestige, among other film and television appearances and cameos.

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9.

David Bowie stopped touring after 2004 and his last live performance was at a charity event in 2006.

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10.

In 2013, David Bowie returned from a decade-long recording hiatus with The Next Day.

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11.

David Bowie remained musically active until his death from liver cancer at his home in New York City.

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12.

David Bowie died two days after both his 69th birthday and the release of his final album, Blackstar .

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13.

David Bowie was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.

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14.

David Bowie Robert Jones was born on 8 January 1947 in Brixton, London.

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15.

David Bowie's mother, Margaret Mary "Peggy", was born at Shorncliffe Army Camp near Cheriton, Kent.

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16.

David Bowie's worked as a waitress at a cinema in Royal Tunbridge Wells.

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17.

David Bowie attended Stockwell Infants School until he was six years old, acquiring a reputation as a gifted and single-minded child—and a defiant brawler.

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18.

From 1953 David Bowie moved with his family to Bickley and then Bromley Common, before settling in Sundridge Park in 1955 where he attended Burnt Ash Junior School.

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19.

David Bowie's voice was considered "adequate" by the school choir, and he demonstrated above-average abilities in playing the recorder.

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20.

David Bowie was first impressed with Presley when he saw his cousin Kristina dance to "Hound Dog" soon after it was released in 1956.

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21.

David Bowie's maternal half-brother, Terry Burns, was a substantial influence on his early life.

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22.

Burns, who was 10 years older than David Bowie, had schizophrenia and seizures, and lived alternately at home and in psychiatric wards; while living with David Bowie, he introduced the younger man to many of his lifelong influences, such as modern jazz, Buddhism, Beat poetry, and the occult.

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23.

David Bowie studied art, music, and design, including layout and typesetting.

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24.

David Bowie was receiving lessons from baritone saxophonist Ronnie Ross.

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25.

David Bowie received a serious injury at school in 1962 when his friend George Underwood punched him in the left eye during a fight over a girl.

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26.

David Bowie formed his first band, the Konrads, in 1962 at the age of 15.

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27.

When David Bowie left the technical school the following year, he informed his parents of his intention to become a pop star.

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28.

David Bowie's mother arranged his employment as an electrician's mate.

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29.

Frustrated by his bandmates' limited aspirations, David Bowie left the Konrads and joined another band, the King Bees.

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30.

Dissatisfied with the King Bees and their repertoire of Howlin' Wolf and Willie Dixon covers, David Bowie quit the band less than a month later to join the Manish Boys, another blues outfit, who incorporated folk and soul—"I used to dream of being their Mick Jagger", David Bowie was to recall.

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31.

Around this time David Bowie joined the Riot Squad; their recordings, which included one of David Bowie's original songs and material by the Velvet Underground, went unreleased.

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32.

In September, David Bowie recorded "Let Me Sleep Beside You" and "Karma Man", which were rejected by Deram for release as a single and left unreleased until 1970.

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33.

The band David Bowie assembled comprised John Cambridge, a drummer David Bowie met at the Arts Lab, Tony Visconti on bass and Mick Ronson on electric guitar.

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34.

Not long after, David Bowie fired his manager and replaced him with Tony Defries.

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35.

David Bowie's first release through RCA Records, it was a commercial failure, partly due lack of promotion from the label.

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36.

David Bowie contributed backing vocals, keyboards, and guitar to Reed's 1972 solo breakthrough Transformer, co-producing the album with Mick Ronson.

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37.

The following year, David Bowie co-produced and mixed the Stooges' album Raw Power alongside Iggy Pop.

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38.

David Bowie toured and gave press conferences as Ziggy before a dramatic and abrupt on-stage "retirement" at London's Hammersmith Odeon on 3 July 1973.

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39.

David Bowie moved to the US in 1974, initially staying in New York City before settling in Los Angeles.

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40.

David Bowie later commented that the accompanying live album, David Live, ought to have been titled "David Bowie Is Alive and Well and Living Only in Theory".

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41.

The extent to which drug addiction was now affecting David Bowie was made public when Russell Harty interviewed him for his London Weekend Television talk show in anticipation of the album's supporting tour.

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42.

David Bowie was asked to relinquish the satellite booking, to allow the Spanish Government to put out a live newsfeed.

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43.

David Bowie later blamed his pro-fascism comments and his behaviour during the period on his addictions and the character of the Thin White Duke.

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44.

David Bowie recorded narration for an adaptation of Sergei Prokofiev's classical composition Peter and the Wolf, which was released as an album in May 1978.

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45.

The song gave international exposure to the underground New Romantic movement when David Bowie visited the London club "Blitz"—the main New Romantic hangout—to recruit several of the regulars to act in the accompanying video, renowned as one of the most innovative of all time.

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46.

David Bowie paired with Queen in 1981 for a one-off single release, "Under Pressure".

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47.

David Bowie was given the lead role in the BBC's 1982 televised adaptation of Bertolt Brecht's play Baal.

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48.

David Bowie reached his peak of popularity and commercial success in 1983 with Let's Dance.

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49.

Let's Dance was followed by the Serious Moonlight Tour, during which David Bowie was accompanied by guitarist Earl Slick and backing vocalists Frank and George Simms.

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50.

At the 1984 MTV Video Music Awards David Bowie received two awards including the inaugural Video Vanguard Award.

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51.

David Bowie performed at Wembley Stadium in 1985 for Live Aid, a multi-venue benefit concert for Ethiopian famine relief.

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52.

David Bowie was given a role in the 1986 film Absolute Beginners.

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53.

David Bowie later described it as his "nadir", calling it "an awful album".

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54.

David Bowie shelved his solo career in 1989, retreating to the relative anonymity of band membership for the first time since the early 1970s.

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55.

The line-up was completed by Tony and Hunt Sales, whom David Bowie had known since the late 1970s for their contribution, on bass and drums respectively, to Iggy Pop's 1977 album Lust for Life.

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56.

Tin Machine began work on a second album, but David Bowie put the venture on hold and made a return to solo work.

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57.

In October 1990, a decade after his divorce from Angie, David Bowie and Somali-born supermodel Iman were introduced by a mutual friend.

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58.

On 20 April 1992, David Bowie appeared at The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, following the Queen singer's death the previous year.

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59.

In 1993, David Bowie released his first solo offering since his Tin Machine departure, the soul, jazz, and hip-hop influenced Black Tie White Noise.

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60.

David Bowie explored new directions on The Buddha of Suburbia, ostensibly a soundtrack album of his music composed for the BBC television adaptation of Hanif Kureishi's novel.

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61.

On 7 January 1997, David Bowie celebrated his half century with a 50th birthday concert at Madison Square Garden, New York, at which he was joined in playing his songs and those of his guests, Lou Reed, Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters, Robert Smith of the Cure, Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins, Black Francis of the Pixies, and Sonic Youth.

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62.

David Bowie received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on 12 February 1997.

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63.

In November 1997, David Bowie performed on the BBC's Children in Need charity single "Perfect Day", which reached number one in the UK.

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64.

David Bowie reunited with Visconti in 1998 to record " Sky Life" for The Rugrats Movie.

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65.

On 25 June 2000, David Bowie made his second appearance at the Glastonbury Festival in England, playing 30 years after his first.

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66.

On 27 June, David Bowie performed a concert at the BBC Radio Theatre in London, which was released on the compilation album David Bowie at the Beeb; this featured BBC recording sessions from 1968 to 1972.

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67.

On 13 June, David Bowie headlined the last night of the Isle of Wight Festival 2004, his final live show in the UK.

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68.

David Bowie sang in a duet of his 1971 song "Changes" with Butterfly Boucher for the 2004 animated film Shrek 2.

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69.

David Bowie returned to the stage on 8 September 2005, appearing with Arcade Fire for the US nationally televised event Fashion Rocks, and performed with the Canadian band for the second time a week later during the CMJ Music Marathon.

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70.

David Bowie contributed backing vocals on TV on the Radio's song "Province" for their album Return to Cookie Mountain, and joined with Lou Reed on Danish alt-rockers Kashmir's 2005 album No Balance Palace.

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71.

David Bowie was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award on 8 February 2006.

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72.

David Bowie performed on Scarlett Johansson's 2008 album of Tom Waits covers, Anywhere I Lay My Head.

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73.

Later in 2013, David Bowie was featured in a cameo vocal in the Arcade Fire song "Reflektor".

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74.

In mid-2014, David Bowie was diagnosed with liver cancer, a diagnosis he kept private.

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75.

In May 2015, "Let's Dance" was announced to be reissued as a yellow vinyl single on 16 July 2015 in conjunction with the David Bowie Is exhibition at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne, Australia.

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76.

David Bowie wrote and recorded the opening title song to the television series The Last Panthers, which aired in November 2015.

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77.

Visconti later said that David Bowie had been planning a post-Blackstar album, and had written and recorded demo versions of five songs in his final weeks, suggesting that David Bowie believed he had a few months left.

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78.

The day following his death, online viewing of David Bowie's music skyrocketed, breaking the record for Vevo's most viewed artist in a single day.

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79.

Apart from "Lazarus", the EP includes three songs that David Bowie recorded during the Blackstar sessions, but were left off the album and appeared on the soundtrack album for the Lazarus musical in October 2016.

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80.

At the 59th Annual Grammy Awards in 2017, David Bowie won all five nominated awards: Best Rock Performance; Best Alternative Music Album; Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical; Best Recording Package; and Best Rock Song.

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81.

In September 2021, David Bowie's estate signed a distribution deal with Warner Music Group, beginning in 2023, covering David Bowie's recordings from 2000 through 2016.

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82.

On 3 January 2022, Variety reported that David Bowie's estate had sold his publishing catalogue to Warner Chappell Music, "for a price upwards of $250 million".

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83.

David Bowie's acting career was "productively selective", largely eschewing starring roles for cameos and supporting parts.

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84.

Many critics have observed that, had David Bowie not chosen to pursue music, he could have found great success as an actor.

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85.

Beginnings of David Bowie's acting career predate his commercial breakthrough as a musician.

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86.

David Bowie filmed a walk-on role for the BBC drama series Theater 625 that aired in May 1968.

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87.

In 1976, David Bowie earned acclaim for his first major film role, portraying Thomas Jerome Newton, an alien from a dying planet, in The Man Who Fell to Earth, directed by Nicolas Roeg.

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88.

David Bowie later admitted that his severe cocaine use during the film's production left him in such a fragile state of mind that he barely understood the film.

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89.

Just a Gigolo, an Anglo-German co-production directed by David Hemmings, saw Bowie in the lead role as Prussian officer Paul von Przygodski, who, returning from World War I, is discovered by a Baroness and put into her gigolo stable.

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90.

David Bowie played Joseph Merrick in the Broadway theatre production The Elephant Man, which he undertook wearing no stage make-up, and which earned high praise for his expressive performance.

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91.

David Bowie portrayed a vampire in Tony Scott's erotic horror film The Hunger, with Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon.

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92.

In Nagisa Oshima's film the same year, Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence, based on Laurens van der Post's novel The Seed and the Sower, David Bowie played Major Jack Celliers, a prisoner of war in a Japanese internment camp.

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93.

David Bowie had a cameo in Yellowbeard, a 1983 pirate comedy created by Monty Python members and directed by Mel Damski.

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94.

David Bowie had a supporting role as hitman Colin in the 1985 John Landis film Into the Night.

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95.

David Bowie declined to play the villain Max Zorin in the James Bond film A View to a Kill .

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96.

David Bowie reteamed with Temple for Absolute Beginners, a rock musical film adapted from Colin MacInnes's book of the same name about life in late 1950s London, in a supporting role as ad man Vendice Partners.

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97.

In 1991, David Bowie reteamed with director John Landis for an episode of the HBO sitcom Dream On and played a disgruntled restaurant employee opposite Rosanna Arquette in The Linguini Incident.

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98.

David Bowie co-starred in Giovanni Veronesi's Spaghetti Western Il Mio West as the most feared gunfighter in the region.

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99.

In 1999, David Bowie voiced two characters in the Sega Dreamcast game Omikron: The Nomad Soul, his only appearance in a video game.

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100.

In Mr Rice's Secret, David Bowie played the title role as the neighbour of a terminally ill 12-year-old.

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101.

David Bowie appeared as himself in the 2001 Ben Stiller comedy Zoolander, judging a "walk-off" between rival male models, and in Eric Idle's 2002 mockumentary The Rutles 2: Can't Buy Me Lunch.

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102.

David Bowie portrayed a fictionalized version of physicist and inventor Nikola Tesla in Christopher Nolan's film The Prestige, which was about the bitter rivalry between two magicians in the late 19th century.

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103.

Nolan later claimed that David Bowie was his only preference to play Tesla, and that he personally appealed to David Bowie to take the role after he initially passed.

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104.

David Bowie eventually cast actor and lead singer of Thirty Seconds to Mars, Jared Leto.

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105.

David Bowie moved to Switzerland in 1976, purchasing a chalet in the hills to the north of Lake Geneva.

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106.

David Bowie devoted more time to his painting, and produced a number of post-modernist pieces.

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107.

One of David Bowie's paintings sold at auction in late 1990 for $500, and the cover for his 1995 album Outside is a close-up of a self-portrait he painted that same year.

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108.

David Bowie was invited to join the editorial board of the journal Modern Painters in 1998, and participated in the Nat Tate art hoax later that year.

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109.

David Bowie used this income to buy songs owned by his former manager, Tony Defries.

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110.

David Bowie was a pioneer of glam rock, according to music historians Schinder and Schwartz, who credited David Bowie and Marc Bolan with creating the genre.

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111.

Musicologist James Perone credited David Bowie with having "brought sophistication to rock music", and critical reviews frequently acknowledged the intellectual depth of his work and influence.

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112.

The BBC's arts editor Will Gompertz likened David Bowie to Pablo Picasso, writing that he was "an innovative, visionary, restless artist who synthesised complex avant garde concepts into beautifully coherent works that touched the hearts and minds of millions".

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113.

Buckley called the era "bloated, self-important, leather-clad, self-satisfied"; then David Bowie "subverted the whole notion of what it was to be a rock star".

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114.

The fierce partisanship of the cult of David Bowie was unique—its influence lasted longer and has been more creative than perhaps almost any other force within pop fandom.

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115.

David Bowie's influence has been unique in popular culture—he has permeated and altered more lives than any comparable figure.

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116.

Alexis Petridis of The Guardian wrote that David Bowie was confirmed by 1980 to be "the most important and influential artist since the Beatles".

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117.

Neil McCormick of The Daily Telegraph stated that David Bowie had "one of the supreme careers in popular music, art and culture of the 20th century" and "he was too inventive, too mercurial, too strange for all but his most devoted fans to keep up with".

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118.

The BBC's Mark Easton argued that David Bowie provided fuel for "the creative powerhouse that Britain has become" by challenging future generations "to aim high, to be ambitious and provocative, to take risks".

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119.

In 2006, David Bowie was voted the fourth greatest living British icon in a poll held by the BBC's Culture Show.

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120.

An exhibition of Bowie artefacts, called David Bowie Is, was organised by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and shown there in 2013.

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121.

David Bowie particularly strove to emulate the British musical theatre singer-songwriter and actor Anthony Newley, whose vocal style he frequently adopted, and made prominent use of for his 1967 debut release, David Bowie .

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122.

David Bowie met dancer Lindsay Kemp in 1967 and enrolled in his dance class at the London Dance Centre.

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123.

David Bowie commented in 1972 that meeting Kemp was when his interest in image "really blossomed".

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124.

David Bowie married his first wife, Mary Angela Barnett, on 19 March 1970 at Bromley Register Office in Bromley, London.

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125.

On 24 April 1992, David Bowie married Somali-American model Iman in a private ceremony in Lausanne.

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126.

David Bowie declared himself gay in an interview with Michael Watts for a 1972 issue of Melody Maker, coinciding with his campaign for stardom as Ziggy Stardust.

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127.

In 1993, David Bowie said he had an "undying" belief in the "unquestionable" existence of God.

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128.

At the 2014 Brit Awards on 19 February, David Bowie became the oldest recipient of a Brit Award in the ceremony's history when he won the award for British Male Solo Artist, which was collected on his behalf by Kate Moss.

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129.

On 10 January 2016, David Bowie died of liver cancer in his New York City apartment.

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130.

David Bowie had been diagnosed 18 months earlier but had not made his condition public.

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131.

David Bowie noted that Bowie had kept working during the illness.

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132.

David Bowie's death was no different from his life – a work of art.

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133.

David Bowie was an extraordinary man, full of love and life.

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134.

In 1999, David Bowie was made a Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government.

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135.

David Bowie received an honorary doctorate from Berklee College of Music the same year.

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136.

David Bowie declined the royal honour of Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2000, and turned down a knighthood in 2003.

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137.

David Bowie was announced as the best-selling vinyl artist of the 21st century in 2022.

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138.

David Bowie was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996 and into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005.

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139.

David Bowie was inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 2013.

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140.

Days after David Bowie's death, Rolling Stone contributor Rob Sheffield proclaimed him "the greatest rock star ever".

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141.

In March 2017, David Bowie featured on a series of UK postage stamps issued by the Royal Mail.

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142.

On 25 March 2018, a statue of David Bowie was unveiled in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, the town where he debuted Ziggy Stardust.

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