Life and Arts

69 and forever young, Blackstarman David Bowie quits planet earth

David Bowie, 1947 - 2016
David Bowie, 1947 - 2016 DR
Text by: Rosslyn Hyams
6 min

David Bowie, the pop music icon whose music creations spanned three generations, has died.


Bowie, who turned 69 on Friday, died from cancer. His 26th album "Blackstar" was released on his birthday.

A living legend, the man of a thousand faces, the man of a thousand costumes. Those are some of ways people have described the most eclectic pop musician of the past 50 years. He first transformed himself with a name change from David Jones to David Bowie in 1966.

The single Space Oddity in 1969 was a great success for the British star. The story of astronaut Major Tom came out the same year that the first human walked on the moon.

Bowie always had his finger on the pulse. He spent some time in the late 1970s in Berlin, then wrote the lyrics, composed the music and sang songs inspired by life near the Berlin Wall   songs like Heroes, which came out in 1977, 12 years before the fall of the wall. The eponymous album, along with Low and Lodger, formed what was known as the Berlin Trilogy.

His music broke ground and inspired waves of pop trends but, better than a magpie he also knew how to dip into other music, like jazz and soul.

Dramatic on stage, with a rich, unmistakable and inimitable singing and speaking voice, David Bowie was a master artist, an actor, a designer, a painter and a poet as well as the better-known incarnation as popular singer and musician.

Speaking to RFI's Sophie Torlotin, French music critic Micha Assayas described him as limitless and the ultimate rock artist.

"He had a capacity to invent completely new music, but he was a genius in that he chose the most visionary musicians to work with him. Bowie’s strength was in being able to sense what was coming next. Like punk in a way, which came after his Ziggy Stardust period. He was the precursor of what we call industrial rock, post-punk, with, most specifically, his Berlin trilogy period at the end of the 1970s. He was the pioneer of visual art in rock too."

Bowie had not appeared in a public performance since 2006. However, Blackstar, the dark title song of his new album, and accompanying video clip, show Bowie as moved as ever.

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