It’s difficult to find the words to exactly describe David Bowie, who passed away January 10, just days after his 69th birthday and the release of his latest studio album, Blackstar. His mercurial image and musical style paved the way for many of the biggest names in popular music today, and his lyrics have transcended generations to become some of the most well-known and most beloved songs of all time. His son, director Duncan Jones, announced his father’s passing with a heart-wrenching tweet. Longtime producer Tony Visconti told Rolling Stone, “His death was not different from his life–a work of art. He made Blackstar for us, his parting gift.”
A life as expansive and impactful as Bowie’s is difficult to encapsulate, except to say that calling him a groundbreaking maverick would be an understatement. From the gender-bending musical stylings of Ziggy Stardust to the smooth soul-inspired pop tunes he created during the 80s, Bowie’s impact on international music and society at large is immeasurable. Some of his album covers, particularly the one for 1973’s Aladdin Sane, have become some of the most iconic images of all time. Even his performance as Jareth the Goblin King in the cult 1986 fantasy film Labyrinth has left a lasting impression on young people today. He and his wife of 24 years, supermodel Iman, epitomized style throughout their famous relationship. His fearlessness in tackling gender roles and different musical inspirations has inspired people of all ages and backgrounds.
Bowie’s death came as a shock to fans who had no idea that he had been battling cancer for 18 months. It seemed as though he was still at the top of his game, as he recently co-wrote Lazarus, a Broadway musical production sequel to his 1976 film The Man Who Fell to Earth, which debuted in December 2015. In retrospect, however, the songs from his most recent album seem to reflect his ideas and feelings about his illness, particularly the song “Lazarus,” whose haunting lyrics almost seem like a goodbye.
Many have tried to emulate Bowie’s unique style, but he’ll always be one of the most exceptional, iconic performers who ever landed on planet Earth.
Very sorry and sad to say it’s true. I’ll be offline for a while. Love to all. pic.twitter.com/Kh2fq3tf9m
— Duncan Jones (@ManMadeMoon) January 11, 2016
Bowie: A Biography by Marc Spitz (Three Rivers Press, 2010)
David Bowie has been the subject of many biographies, but if you really want to meet the man behind the legend, then Bowie: A Biography is the right pick. Noted music journalist Marc Spitz creates a deep portrait of Bowie, not only as an artist but as a person.
David Bowie Style by Danny Lewis (Bloomsbury, 2012)
No retrospective of David Bowie is complete without a look at his groundbreaking sense of style, which flouted convention, gender norms and expectations and took us into the stars. This book looks at the cultural and artistic influences who shaped this artistic icon and how he has influenced the generations who came after him.