‘Space Oddity’ to ‘Blackstar’: A timeline of David Bowie
A look at some significant points in the late singer-songwriter’s life and career
September 14th, 1995: Singer David Bowie gestures as he performs one of the the first songs of a six-week concert tour of North America. Photograph: Jim Bourg/Files/Reuters
1966 - Performing initially as Davie Jones, or sometimes Davy Jones, Bowie finds himself being confused with Davy Jones of the Monkees. To avoid the confusion, he chooses “David Bowie” as his stage name, supposedly taking inspiration the famous Bowie knife.
1967 - After releasing three singles for Pye Records and his debut album, The World of David Bowie - none of which achieved much success - Bowie retreats to a Buddhist monastery in Scotland.
11th July 1969 - Bowie releases Space Oddity five days before the Apollo 11 launch and it becomes a UK top five hit.
4th November 1969 - His second album is released. Originally issued as David Bowie in the UK and Man of Words/Man of Music in the US, it is eventually re-released internationally in 1972 as Space Oddity. Like his first album, it isn’t commercially successful on release.
6th June 1972 - Bowie releases a string of albums before he releases The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars in 1972, dressed in striking costume and with dyed red hair. The birth of his alien alter-ego makes him an international star, with the album peaking at number five on the UK charts.
3rd July 1973 - Bowie retires Ziggy Stardust at a gig in London’s Hammersmith Odeon, after he starts to doubt his own sanity. However, this doesn’t stop his success and he releases several more hit albums - Aladdin Sane (13th April 1973), Diamond Dogs ( 24th April 1974), and Pin Ups (19th October 1973), a tribute to the swinging London scene that inspired him.
7th March 1975 - The release of Young Americans sees another change in direction for Bowie. It gives him his first US number one when his collaboration with John Lennon on Fame tops the charts.
28th May 1976 - Bowie plays the lead character in the science fiction film The Man Who Fell to Earth, directed by Nicolas Roeg, before moving to Berlin. The then-divided city inspires his next three albums: Low (14th January 1977), Heroes (14th October 1977) and Lodger (18th May 1979). These albums contain hits like Sound and Vision and Boys Keep Swinging, which are now often regarded as some of his finest work.
February 1980 - Bowie splits from Angela Barnett amid rumours about his sexuality. In 1972, he had come out as gay in an interview in Melody Maker magazine, and four years later he told Playboy he was bisexual. In 1983, in an interview with Rolling Stone, he said the declaration in Melody Maker was the “biggest mistake I ever made”. He said: “Christ, I was so young then. I was experimenting.”
12th September 1980 - Bowie releases Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps). Though the Berlin trilogy of albums were valued artistically, biographer David Buckley called Scary Monsters “the perfect balance” between Bowie’s artistry and commercial success.
1988 - Bowie shelves his solo career to return as one quarter of rock band Tin Machine. Their self-titled debut album initially achieves success, but it soon fades and by 1993, Bowie has gone solo again, with his album Black Tie White Noise.
April 1992 - Bowie marries Somali-born model Iman (Mohamed Abdulmajid). Bowie has said: “I was naming the children the night we met. . . it was absolutely immediate.”
17th January 1996 - Bowie is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
4th October 1999 - Bowie releases Hours... - his final album for Virgin Records and his exit from heavy electronica.
2003 - Bowie releases Reality, his 23rd, and many assumed last, album. He turns down a knighthood in the Queen’s New Year honours, reportedly because he viewed the honours as “a waste of time”.
June 2004 - Bowie has a heart attack on stage while performing at the Hurricane Festival in Germany. He has an emergency angioplasty in Hamburg and the remaining 14 dates on his A Reality Tour are cancelled.
8th February 2006 - Bowie is awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Two months later he announces he is taking a year off, but in November he performs alongside Alicia Keys at the Black Ball, a New York benefit for Keep A Child Alive. This is to be the last time he performs live.
8th January 2013 - Bowie reveals on his 66th birthday that he would be releasing a new album, The Next Day. He releases a new single, Where Are We Now? with the announcement, and the full album is warmly received by critics in March. The record becomes his first album to reach number one since Black Tie White Noise in 1993 and it wins a Brit Award for Best British Male, making Bowie the oldest ever recipient of the award.
8th January 2016 - Bowie releases his final studio album, Blackstar.
10th January 2016 - Bowie passes away at the age of 69 after an 18-month battle with cancer, leaving behind son Duncan (44), daughter Alexandria (15) and wife Iman (60).