David Bowie, the genre-bending English superstar musician, passed away Sunday, just two days after his 69th birthday, following an 18-month battle with cancer.
Click through the images above. Becoming a superstar with his 1969 smash "Space Oddity," Bowie remained ahead of the popular curve due to his ever-evolving musical persona, including as a folk singer (Hunky Dory,) a space jammer (Space Oddity,) a glam rocker (Ziggy Stardust,) soul crooner (Young Americans,) soundscape painter (the Berlin Trilogy,) arena pleaser (Let's Dance,) along with a host of others. The shifts of style remained strictly that; what remained with every incarnation of David Bowie was a genius artist who wrote and sang with emotional, sympathetic intensity about love, freedom of expression, and always, the future. David Bowie's music as a whole was as varied as it was prolific. In his peak era of the '70s, he toured constantly and released at least one album a year, almost never retreading himself. Hits like "Changes," "Ziggy Stardust," "Jean Genie," "Rebel Rebel," "Heroes," along with many more prove that he often provided a pivot point for the rest of popular music to hinge. Only a handful of musical acts, after finding success with a certain sound, would dare change it through their careers; Bowie did it over a dozen times, risking fame to dig deeper into his sound. More than a half-dozen sub genres of music can be traced directly back to Bowie, including Glam, Post-Punk, and New Wave. Outside of the spotlight, Bowie was just as successful as a producer, writing hits and producing for many other acts such as The Stooges, Mott the Hoople, Tina Turner, Iggy Pop, Queen, and Lou Reed. He was a well-regarded actor, starring in 1975's The Man Who Fell to Earth, Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, and The Last Temptation of Christ. He was always memorable as himself, or whoever he happened to embody at the time, in interviews with talk show hosts like Mike Douglas and Dick Cavett, and many remember him for his cameo appearances in the movie Zoolander as well as the English television show Extras. One cannot talk about Bowie without mentioning sexuality. Bowie was a champion of androgyny and the mystery of gender itself. While many stars and celebrities sought to hide their gay or bisexual feelings, Bowie flaunted them, so much as proclaiming he was gay to the British music magazine Melody Maker in 1972. Despite the prejudices of many, Bowie reached stardom and paved the route for gays and bisexuals, famous or not, to live openly. He was twice married, to Angie Bowie from 1970-1980, and then to the supermodel Iman in 1992. He leaves her behind as well as two children, Duncan from his first marriage and Alexandria Zahra from his second. Bowie, "The Man Who Fell to Earth," had just released his 28th studio album, "Blackstar," on his last birthday to excellent reviews.