Last month, rock fans all around the world once again mourned the loss of the beloved rock ’n' roll legend, David Bowie, during the week that held what would’ve been his 70th birthday, as well as the one year anniversary of his death.
One of Bowie’s most admirable traits, as viewed by his fans, was his ability and desire to stand out no matter if people viewed him as odd or strange. David Bowie’s look, stage presence, and flamboyant personalities were just as important to him as the music he released. He excelled in his evolving image, and was more than successful in keeping things interesting and new for his audience. He bounced around from identity to identity, including a spaceman, astronaut, and even a goblin king.
Here are some of Bowie’s most iconic personas, ranging from the very beginning to the very end of his career:
5. Jareth, The Goblin King
Dance, magic, dance! Along with Bowie’s insane musical talent, he also dabbled in the area of film and cinema. Throughout the span of his career, he starred in such productions as, The Man Who Fell To Earth, and The Prestige. One of Bowie’s most iconic roles though, was Jareth The Goblin King in the beloved Jim Henson fantasy film, Labyrinth (1986). Many fans, as can I, recall sitting down at a young age, and watching the film filled with Jim Henson’s magnificent puppetry and David Bowie’s beautiful, long, flowing angelic hair. David wrote numerous songs for the film including, “Magic Dance”, “As The World Falls Down”, “Within You”, and the main theme for the film, “Underground.” Although the movie was far from a box office hit, it’s become a cult classic over the last thirty years, and the character of Jareth The Goblin King has become one of David Bowie’s most beloved works and personas.
4. The Thin White Duke
Image by Andrew Kent via Time Magazine
The Thin White Duke is often viewed as one of Bowie’s most mysterious eras. This next character was created during the height of Bowie’s drug addiction, and included the ‘classic’ attire of a white shirt, black waistcoat, and of course, Bowie’s slicked back hair. The character is loosely based off of the role, Thomas Jerome Newton, in which Bowie played in the film, The Man Who Fell To Earth (1975). Bowie kept to himself during this time, he even described it himself as “the darkest days of his life.” The era in which the Duke first appeared was during Bowie’s release of the song “Fame” off of the album, Young Americans. The song was co-written with John Lennon, and was Bowie’s very first single to hold the place of number one in the United States. The Thin White Duke was the most prevalent during the release of Bowie’s album, Station To Station.
3. Aladdin Sane
Image by Duffie via AnOther
Aladdin Sane was created after the death of Ziggy Stardust. The follow-up character to the rock ’n’ roll alien, Aladdin Sane displayed the same fire red hairstyle, and androgynous look that Ziggy had. The album of the same name, Aladdin Sane, was released in the year 1973, and is best known for the cover art portraying the iconic image of Bowie with a red and blue lightening bolt across his face. The album and character title is a pun off of the phrase, “A Lad Insane.” The title track was inspired by Bowie’s own brother Terry, who suffered from schizophrenia.
2. Ziggy Stardust
Image by Amy Haben via Please Kill Me
Ziggy Stardust, probably Bowie’s most well known and recognized character, was created for the release of his fifth studio album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust (1972). Bowie was fit with crimson hair, and androgynous clothing as he played the role of an alien coming down to earth to spread the message of love and hope to rock fans all across the world. Ziggy Stardust knew no sexuality, and was covered in pale white makeup and lipstick. Ziggy was something that had never been seen before, and did it’s job in catching the eyes of music fans everywhere. The character of Ziggy can be found in the music videos for some of David’s biggest hits, such as, “Life On Mars?”, “Space Oddity”, and “Starman.”
1. Major Tom
Image found on YouTube
Major Tom, the astronaut who gets stranded in the final frontier, was one of Bowie’s very first personas, coming to light in his first breakout single, “Space Oddity.” The song was Bowie’s first hit to ever be on the charts, and landed in one of the top five upon it’s release. “Space Oddity” is not the only song the character Major Tom would be featured on. Major Tom made his comeback on the song “Ashes to Ashes” on Bowie’s album, Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps), “Hallo Spaceboy” on the record Outside, and even on the title track “Blackstar” of off Bowie’s final release.
What is your favourite era and persona of David Bowie? Feel free to leave a comment below telling us what character you like most and why.
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