On this day in 1973, David Bowie released iconic single ‘Life On Mars’. Celebrate with a look back at the rest of his incredible career. First up in our A-Z, it’s Arcade Fire. An early champion of the band, he appeared onstage with them twice in 2005. Pic: PA Photos
B – Berlin. The small Hansa recording studio where Bowie recorded his ‘Berlin trilogy’ – which used to overlook the wall – is now a tourist destination, although it’s still a working studio: Supergrass and Snow Patrol have worked there in recent years. Pic: PA Photos
C – Cocaine. At the height of his addiction, during the 1974 ‘Diamond Dogs’ tour, Bowie weighed just 95 pounds and supposedly lived on a diet of peppers and milk. All the major food groups covered, then. Pic: PA Photos
D – David. His real name is David Robert Jones. He changed his surname to Bowie to avoid confusion with Davy Jones, then riding high with The Monkees. Pic: PA Photos
E – Eye. Bowie’s right pupil is permanently dilated – a result of his friend George Underwood punching him in the eye while the pair were still at school, in a fight over a girl.
F – The Future. In an interview with the New York Times in 2002, Bowie predicted music would become a commodity, “like running water or electricity”. With the advent of Spotify, free streaming, and cloud computing, this comment now seems remarkable prescient. Pic: PA Photos
G – Glastonbury. Bowie has played Worthy Farm twice. His first appearance was in 1971, when he played at 5am. His second, in 2000, has gone down in Glastonbury lore as one of the greatest sets the festival has seen. Persistent rumours Bowie might be playing the 2010 bash are unfounded. Pic: PA Photos
H – Helicopter. When Bowie was working on the film Prestige, producers made sure he traveled in a blue helicopter. They’d heard that he would refuse to travel in anything else. However, upon seeing the helicopter’s customised décor, he told them he didn’t really give a shit. Pic: PA Photos
I – iPod. According to a recent piece in The Observer, David Bowie’s iPod currently contains Lorraine Ellison’s ‘Stay With Me’, ‘Dinner At Eight’ by Rufus Wainwright, and ‘Gathering Storm’ by Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Pic: PA Photos
J – Joey. In case you’ve ever wondered, Bowie is pronounced to rhyme with Joey – not Howie, or Wowee. Pic: PA Photos
K – Kapranos. Franz Ferdinand frontman Alex Kapranos was overwhelmed upon meeting his idol in 2004. “There’s no actor who’ll ever come close to influencing me as much as Bowie,” he said. Pic: PA Photos
L – Lollipop. It’s become a well-work rock tale, but it’s worth repeating – at a gig in Oslo in 2004, Bowie was struck in the eye by a lollipop hurled from the crowd. It became lodged there, before being removed by a member of his road crew. Like a trooper, Bowie then continued with the show.
M – Moon. Bowie made a rare public appearance in summer 2009 at the premiere of his son’s acclaimed debut film, Moon, at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. Pic: PA Photos
N – Noel Edmonds. The bearded TV presenter travelled to Live Aid with Bowie in 1985, and pronounced the great man to be “a funny, dry, erudite bloke”. Pic: PA Photos
O – Operation. It was a heart attack requiring emergency surgery in 2004 that caused David Bowie to cancel the remaining 15 dates of what had been his biggest – and best-received world tour in years. Since then, his live appearances have been sporadic. Pic: PA Photos
P – The Prestige. Bowie’s last film role was in this 2006 thriller about rival magicians. Adopting a truly terrible European accent, he played the role of Austrian-born inventor Nikola Tesla. Pic: PA Photos
Q – Queen. The song ‘Under Pressure’ – a collaboration between Bowie and Queen – evolved from a collective jam session at Bowie’s studio in Montreux, Switzerland. He’d originally intended to sing backing vocals on a different Queen song, ‘Cool Cat’. Pic: PA Photos
R – Retirement. In 2006, Bowie announced he was “fed up with the industry, and I’ve been fed up for some time”. Which hasn’t stopped fans speculating – against all available evidence – that he’s poised to make a triumphant comeback.
S – ‘Space Oddity’. This now-famous track was used by the BBC in its coverage of the moon landing in 1969. Bowie was practically unknown back then – the song became his first UK hit.
T – Twitter. A fake Twitter account was set up in David Bowie’s name in January 2009. Despite it only ever having featured one tweet (“Cheers from a snowy Berlin! Working on some new material!”), the account has over 41,000 followers.
U – Under-performer. Bowie left school with just one qualification, an O Level in art. Pic: Photoshot
V – Visconti. Bowie tends to produce his best work when he collaborates with Tony Visconti. After a gap of 20 years, Bowie was reunited with the man who produced his classic ‘70s albums, for the acclaimed albums ‘Heathen’ (2002) and ‘Reality’ (2003). Pic: Photoshot
W – Wizard. At the height of cocaine psychosis, Bowie was so addled and paranoid from drugs, he allegedly stored his own urine in the fridge in case a wizard stole it. Pic: Photoshot
X – The X Factor. Ever the optimist, Simon Cowell told NME recently that he hoped to persuade David Bowie to perform on the ITV talent show. “I think that would be good just because he’s a great songwriter,” Cowell said. Good luck with that. Pic: Photoshot
Y – ‘Young Americans’. Backing vocals on this 1975 soul album were supplied by a young Luther Vandross, who would go on to be one the biggest solo stars of the 1980s.
Z – Ziggy Stardust. Optimistic internet rumours suggested that Bowie might be planning to resurrect his legendary alter-ego to play Coachella this year. “Bollocks, of course,” was the succinct response of NME’s Barry Nicolson. Pic: PA Photos