Eternal Melodic Chameleon: David Bowie 1947-2016

Singer David Bowie, one of the most influential musicians of his era, has died of cancer.

With his diverse musical style including hard rock, soul, psychedelic folk, and pop. The Brixton, London-born musical chameleon David Robert Jones was destined for greatness.

With 28 albums, two Grammys and countless hits such as “Fame”, “Let’s Dance”, and “Blue Jean”, under his belt, Bowie was once known as Davy Jones earlier in his career. Experiencing confusion from the public on the account of carrying the identical namesake of Davy Jones of the Monkees, Bowie then renamed himself after Jim Bowie, the 19th-century American frontiersman.

An accomplished multi-instrumentalist, Bowie mastered the viola, cello, piano, drums, and percussion, in addition to guitar, keyboards, harmonica and saxophone. Bowie’s numerous musical influences seemed to broaden during each of his perpetual reinventions, dictating countless trends influencing fashion and pop culture.

Since grade school, Bowie has demonstrated above-average musical ability. At the age of nine, his dancing during music and movement classes was amazingly imaginative as teachers called his interpretations “vividly artistic” and “astonishing” for a child. The same year, his interest in music was further stimulated when his father brought home a collection of American 45s by artists including Elvis Presley, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, and Little Richard.

Bowie studied art, music and design, including layout and typesetting. After his half-brother, introduced him to modern jazz, his enthusiasm for players like John Coltrane led his mother to give him a plastic alto saxophone in 1961. He was soon receiving lessons from a local musician. In 1962, Bowie received a serious and noticeable injury that many believed to be part of his eclectic sense of style. When his friend George Underwood punched him in the left eye during a fight over a girl, doctors feared he would become permanently blind in that eye.

After a series of operations during a four-month hospitalization, his doctors determined that the damage could not be fully repaired and Bowie was left with faulty depth perception and a permanently dilated pupil. Despite their altercation, Underwood and Bowie remained good friends, and Underwood went on to create the artwork for Bowie’s early albums.

After being diagnosed with liver cancer 18 months prior, Bowie succumbed to the illness on January 10, 2016, just two days after releasing his album Blackstar on his 69th birthday.

Throughout his career, Bowie has sold an estimated 140 million albums. In the United Kingdom, he was awarded 9 Platinum, 11 Gold, and 8 Silver albums, and in the United States, 5 Platinum, and 7 Gold. In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him 39th on their list of the 100 Greatest Rock Artists of All Time and the 23rd best singer of all time. Bowie was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on January 17, 1996, and named a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in June 2013.

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