The Thin White Duke. Ziggy Stardust. The Goblin King. These are some of the names the man born David Robert Jones went by and who best became known to the world as David Bowie. These are masks he donned and swapped as part of a very creatively multi-dimensional life. Best know as a musician, Bowie was an artist who regularly dipped into the mediums of dance, art and film. Understand that his ability to shift personas from album to album from his start as a baroque pop folkie through glam rock god, Philly soul maven, German minimalist aficionado and every character he tried on and tossed off in between blazed the trail for those that followed in his wake for better or worse.
Queen, Neil Young, Madonna, Eurythmics, Lady Gaga, Roxy Music—this is just a partial list of musicians who wound up realizing that artists needn’t be hidebound to a particular genre or musical style. Space limits an extensive delving into this late superstar’s extensive canon (27 studio albums) and some of his other pop culture forays, so here’s a primer into a few corners of the deep and rich legacy David Bowie left behind.
Five Years 1969-1973 [12-CD] (Parlophone)
These 12 CDs include The Man Who Sold the World, Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars and Aladdin Sane. This set includes a digital download of all the material officially released by Bowie during this early stage of his career from 1969 to 1973. All of the formats include tracks that have never before appeared on CD/digitally as well as new remasters.
Exclusive to the boxed sets will be Re:Call 1, a new 2-disc compilation of non-album singles, single versions & b-sides. It features a previously unreleased single edit of “All The Madmen” which was originally set for a U.S. release but was never actually released. Also included is the original version of “Holy Holy,” which was only ever released on the original 1971 Mercury single and hasn’t been available on any release since.
Young Americans (1975)
Bowie’s love letter to Philly soul not only gave Luther Vandross an early foot in the door, but is rife with R&B manna including the title cut, “Fascination” and “Win.” Despite being a chart-topper, the one weak link is the John Lennon duet “Fame.”
Low/Heroes/Lodger (1977 through 1979)
Aided by longtime production cohort Tony Visconti, Bowied recorded during this titanic trio during his self-imposed Berlin phase. His avant-garde minimalist approach reflected his fascination with Kraut-rock, influenced post-rock and yielded numerous gems including “Breaking Glass,” “Sound and Vision,” “Heroes,” “DJ” and “Boys Keep Swinging.”
Scary Monsters (1980)
A return from art-rock innovator to a more accessible plane found Bowie churning out a masterpiece that yielded manna like the title cut, “Fashion” and “Ashes to Ashes,” where he revisits Major Tom.
Let’s Dance (1983)
The union with producer Nile Rodgers not only made Bowie the king of MTV thanks to videos of the title cut, “Modern Love” and “Let’s Dance,” but found Bowie introducing the world to young hot-shot Texas guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Producer Tony Visconti returned to the fold after 22 years and this creative marriage was influenced by Bowie’s reaction to 9/11 and included covers of the Pixies and Neil Young.
Black Star (2016)
Visconti is back for wound up being Bowie’s final album and a parting gift to his fans. With the rock icon’s death looming, he used jazz musicians to address themes of mortality via songs like “Lazarus” and “I Can’t Give Everything Away.”
His work with Mott the Hoople (All the Young Dudes), Iggy Pop (Raw Power, The Idiot, Lust For Life, Blah, Blah, Blah, TV Eye Live 1977) and Lou Reed (Transformer).
David Bowie singing “Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy” with Bing Crosby 1977 during the latter’s final CBS Christmas special.
Playing the Lord Royal Highness in the 2007 TV movie SpongeBob’s Atlantis SquarePantis.
Playing himself on a 2006 episode of the Ricky Gervais HBO series Extras.
Portrayed as the shape-shifting head of the Guild of Calamitous Intent in a major plot point in
The Venture Brothers.
Playing himself in a cameo in 2001’s Zoolander.
Portraying late inventor Nikola Tesla in Bowie’s last film role in 2006’s The Prestige.