David Bowie Dead: We Remember 10 Moments That Sealed Forever The Thin White Duke's Iconic Status

11/01/2016 10:27 | Updated 11 January 2016

The shocking news of David Bowie's death has brought home the enormous scope of his unique stamp on pop culture over the past six decades.


The huge range of fans paying tribute to him and his work today reflect the diverse nature of his creative adventure, which took him into fields of music, art, film and theatre, as well as his own greatest work - personal style and attitude.

For every fan who still cherishes the memory of Ziggy Stardust, there will be one who thinks of the distinctive riffs of Nile Rodgers at work on Bowie's great pop anthem 'Let's Dance', or his thrilling one-off duet with Queen on 'Under Pressure'.

Here is our most spontaneous collection of the 10 moments that helped define David Bowie as a pop pioneer without equal, on the understanding that, for each of these, there will be many others we could mention... We salute you, Star Man!

  • 1969: Space Oddity
    Bowie's first Top 5 hit, it won him an Ivor Novello Award, and introduced us to character Major Tom, who would recur in later works. In 2013, the song gained renewed popularity after it was covered by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, who performed the song while aboard the International Space Station, and therefore became the first music video shot in space.
  • 1972: Ziggy Stardust Came To Life
    Dressed in a striking costume, his hair dyed red, Bowie launched his Ziggy Stardust stage show at Tolworth's Toby Jug pub in February 1972, with his Spiders from Mars bandmates, and created a persona as distinct as any in the last half-century. The accompanying album stayed in the charts for two years, and Bowie stayed fully immersed on and off stage, until he retired the character just as dramatically on stage at Hammersmith in 1973.
  • 1975: "Have You Heard Of The Bay City Rollers?"
    It wasn't the first time mainstream chat show host Russell Harty had spoken to Bowie, but he seemed as confused as ever by the androgynous, unflappable creature in front of him. To his credit, Bowie continued to stay courtly in the face of some quite bizarre questions including, "Why are you coming back (to the UK) if you're not so good a musician?" and "What colour is your hair?"
  • 1980: Ashes to Ashes
    Bowie called this "a 1980s nursery rhyme", and that it served as his own epitaph to the previous decade. One of the most expensive videos ever made up to that point, it's remarkable, too, for the inclusion of extras including Visage's frontman, whom Bowie had personally recruited on a VIP visit to Soho's Blitz club - or so the story goes.
  • 1981: Under Pressure
    Arguably the two most charismatic stars of their generation, David Bowie and Freddie Mercury with Queen joined forces for this one-off duet, which originated in a jam session between Bowie and the band, and so was credited to all of them. Brian May recalled, "It was hard, because you had four very precocious boys and David, who was precocious enough for all of us."
  • 1983: Let's Dance
    People who know nothing else about Bowie, will know him for this - his groundbreaking, unashamedly mainstream album, which took him to the charts once again. Collaborating with Nile Rodgers for those riffs, visiting the Australian outback for the luminous video, Bowie purists despaired, but millions more tuned in, as Bowie made this the backbone of his worldwide 'Serious Moonlight' tour and turned himself into a pop prince - again.
  • 1992: Heroes, Then Stopping A Stadium Still And Silent
    If singing his song 'Heroes' wasn't enough to bring the crowd to its feet at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert in 1992, Bowie then surprised everyone by falling still and reciting the Lord's Prayer, and it was unforgettable. Bowie said afterwards, "I decided to do it about five minutes before I went on stage. In rock music, especially in the performance arena, there is no room for prayer, but I think that so many of the songs people write are prayers. A lot of my songs seem to be prayers for unity within myself. On a personal level, I have an undying belief in God’s existence. For me it is unquestionable."
  • 2006: The Prestige
    David Bowie's artistry was never limited to music, and he turned up many times on screen - most surprisingly, but absolutely fittingly, in Christopher Nolan's 'The Prestige', where he played Nikola Tesla, a man obsessed with how best to channel electricity and enjoy its power.
  • 2006: Bowie Keeps A Straight Face For 'Extras'
    Around the time David Bowie recorded this somewhat less than complimentary scene for Ricky Gervais, RG sent him a birthday email, saying "Happy Birthday! 58 - isn't it time you got a proper job? Ricky Gervais, 42, Comedian." He soon received a short reply, "I have a proper job. David Bowie. Rock God."
  • 2016: Lazarus
    The lyrics of David Bowie's most recent song have taken on an unbearable poignancy since the news of his death. "Look up here, I’m in heaven, I’ve got scars that can’t be seen, I’ve got drama, can’t be stolen, Everybody knows me now." We know now that that Bowie was facing his own mortality as he filmed this most expressive of videos, channelling his unique artistry until the end.


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