Oh, You Pretty Thing: David Bowie’s Life In Pictures

As we all get to grips with a world without Bowie, we look back at the Starman's life in pictures

As we all get to grips with a world without Bowie, we look back at the Starman’s life in pictures

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Eventually the artist formerly known as Davy (or sometimes Davie) Jones declared that he'd left music to study mime at Sadler's Wells theatre, but nonetheless stayed with Lower Third until leaving to join the Buzz under the guidance of his new manager Ralph Horton.

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The Buzz made just enough of an impact to land this appearance on a TV show at Wembley Studios in 1966, but their single 'Do Anything You Say' failed to ignite, and Horton helped Jones transition to a solo singer under the new moniker of David Bowie, inspired by frontiersman Jim Bowie.

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Then came Ziggy, beaming down from the '... Spiders From Mars' album to define glam rock, get pictured here onstage at Newcastle City Hall, and then disappear as quickly as he came.

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Masayoshi Sukita
Ziggy Stardust's interplanetary rock'n'roll story wasn't just about the songs; his outlandish fashions were just as striking, inspired by the Japanese kabuki style and often making him look like a Martian sun god, a colour-mad gymnast or a man-size Slinky.

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Occasionally, as here in a New York hotel room in 1973, Ziggy even looked as though he'd crawled, fully formed, from your nan's curtains.

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Come the tour for 1974's 'Diamond Dogs', his final glam album, Bowie had transformed himself into Halloween Jack, a street rebel from a dystopian future and, judging by shots of Bowie, Angie and their son Zowie Bowie at the Amstel Hotel in Amsterdam, a part-time pirate.

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While in the US, Bowie's cocaine dependency deepened to the point where he was living in LA as a recluse, consuming only peppers and milk and obsessively lost in his readings about the Third Reich and the occult. The result was The Thin White Duke, his persona for 1976's 'Station To Station' album and tour, pictured here jackbooting into Rotterdam.

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Brian Ward
Discussing the positive side of fascism in interviews and throwing Nazi salutes at Victoria Station, The Thin White Duke was a wake-up call for Bowie, who went to Berlin to help quit drugs and ended up creating his seminal avant garde masterpiece 'Low' alongside Brian Eno.

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Andy Kent
'Low' gradually spawned a triptych of Berlin albums; the follow-up '"Heroes"', released in 1977, was inspired by the Cold War and featured one of his most celebrated songs as its title track. It propelled Bowie back on the road in 1978 for the Stage Tour, which saw Bowie perform in a cage of strip-lights.

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Despite being largely recorded in New York and Switzerland, 1979's 'Lodger' completed the Berlin trilogy, while Bowie was also making his name as an actor. Having starred in Nicolas Roeg's The Man Who Fell To Earth in 1976, he took a role as a Prussian officer returning home after WWI in the German movie Just A Gigolo in 1978.

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Such was his genius, Bowie managed to turn his most challenging and experimental records into commercial hits, and went on to reach Number One in the UK with 'Ashes To Ashes' from 1980's occasionally scabrous 'Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)'. But his greatest sales came when he hooked up with Chic's Nile Rodgers for 1983's 'Let's Dance'.

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Thanks to the classic, funk-drenched title track and songs such as 'China Girl', originally co-written for Iggy Pop's album 'The Idiot', 'Let's Dance' sold seven million copies, became Bowie's biggest global smash and shot him to the upper echelons of the rock'n'roll establishment.

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Greg Gorman
The success of 'Let's Dance' encouraged Bowie to pursue the commercial side of his music, which led to a string of 80s records in 'Tonight' and 'Never Let Me Down' that he'd refer to as "artistically.. probably my lowest point".

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Nonetheless, the 80s were something of a golden era for Suave Bowie. He was one of the biggest highlights of the Live Aid concert at Wembley Stadium in July 1985...

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... He collaborated with his former flame Mick Jagger on the worldwide hit single 'Dancing In The Street' the same year, his third best collaboration after 'Fame' with John Lennon and 'Under Pressure' with Queen...

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... And he became the stuff of every child's Muppetest nightmares as the goblin king Jareth in 1986 movie Labyrinth.

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Musically, Bowie continued to swerve. Between 1988 and 1992 he formed Tin Machine with guitarist Reeves Gabrels, an industrial-flecked metallic rock act in which Bowie insisted he was not the star, just another band member. The band were widely slated despite releasing some fine rock tunes such as 'Baby Universal'.

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Returning to his solo career in the wake of Tin Machine, Bowie felt creatively unencumbered and spent the rest of his life exploring and experimenting with copious new styles and ideas. Here he's seen in New York promoting 1995's dystopian concept album 'Outside', subtitled 'the Ritual Art-Murder of Baby Grace Blue: A non-linear Gothic Drama Hyper-Cycle'.

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Having dabbled with electronica, drum'n'bass and jungle on 1997's 'Earthling', he collated the mellower 'Hours...' from music he'd originally written for video game Omikron: The Nomad Soul, reflecting his growing interest in the possibilities of technology and the internet. Bowie was one of the earliest artists to embrace downloading and started his own web browser bowie.net.

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Accordingly, 2003's 'Reality' proved the last album from Bowie for ten years, as he largely slipped from public view following a heart attack in Hamburg in 2004. He re-emerged just three years before his death for two final, acclaimed albums 'The Next Day' and 'Blackstar', keeping a firm, secretive silence throughout.

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