Remembering David Bowie With 10 Of His Most Iconic Reinventions

From Ziggy Stardust to the Thin White Duke, we remember the music icon – and chameleon – five years after his death

Long before stars like Lady Gaga, Kanye West, Rihanna and Madonna became known for reinventing themselves every time they dropped a new album… there was David Bowie.

The legendary rock singer, who died in 2016 at the age of 69, created various guises for himself over the course of his career, which contributed to some of the most iconic imagery in pop culture history.

Who could forget the outlandish and androgynous looks of the 1970s, full of colour and elaborate costumes, which were replaced just a few years later by the more streamlined and meticulously-dressed outfits of the Thin White Duke?

We’re remembering the pop icon with 10 of the most iconic reinventions and personas he showcased during his illustrious music career...

1. 'In Mime' Bowie
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The early days of David Bowie's career are often looked on as less avant-garde and outlandish - and, frankly, more 'normal' - than his creative output during his heyday, but it's worth remembering that in the late 1960s he had become a professional mime who also sang on stage.

During this period, it's been said his label were actually determined to get rid of him, due to the fact he didn't have his own backing band and was yet to have a hit record.

Imagine his surprise when a little song called 'Space Oddity' came along to change all that, putting him on the map in a massive way.
2. 'Man Who Sold The World' Bowie
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With the release of his third album, 'The Man Who Sold The World', Bowie took on a more rocky sound, with his long-time collaborator, guitarist Mick Ronson, taking a more prominent role in the music.

This was also reflected in his image, which saw him sporting a shaggy hairstyle and more elaborate style, which saw the first sparks of what a fashion icon and innovator he was to become.
3. Ziggy Stardust
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Just two years later, he'd reinvented himself once again and created a brand new character.

Backed by his band, The Spiders From Mars, he became known as Ziggy Stardust, a rock star whose story was told on the album, 'The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust (And The Spiders From Mars)'.

The album spawned some of David's signature songs, including 'Suffragette City', 'Starman' and the titular 'Ziggy Stardust', while the era is famous for ending when he "killed off" the character live on stage, breaking up the group before a performance of 'Rock 'N' Roll Suicide'.
4. 'Aladdin Sane'
Things took an even more elaborate turn with the release of David's next album, 'Aladdin Sane', the imagery for which saw him creating a new character.

The 'Aladdin Sane' album cover is certainly among the most iconic images from David Bowie's legendary career, while the thinking behind it, according to the man himself, was 'Ziggy Stardust goes to America'.
5. 'Young Americans' Era
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And then... something switched.

Gone were the androgynous looks, the outlandish hair and make-up, and elaborate costumes. In their place were casual suits, in keeping with what he described as the 'plastic soul' vibe of his 'Young Americans' album.
6. The Thin White Duke
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Proving he's not one who could be easily predicted, David Bowie then went completely back to the drawing board for the imagery that coincided with his 'Station To Station' album.

The Thin White Duke was another iconic character created by the music legend, this time famed for his slicked back blond hair, sharp suits inspired by the cabaret scene and thin appearance. However, while fans relished seeing their idol once again reinventing himself, David later spoke about this period as a dark time for him personally, admitting he was at the height of his cocaine habit during this era, and describing the Duke as an 'ogre'.
7. 'Let's Dance' Era
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A little older and possibly a little wiser, following the avant-garde imagery that accompanied the 'Berlin trilogy' and 'Man Who Fell To Earth' it seemed the one thing David Bowie could do to really shock people was once again reinvent himself, this time as a commercial pop star.

With a bit of help from Nile Rodgers, the 'Let's Dance' era didn't sit well with some fans of the star at the time, who were perhaps hoping for something less 'commercial' from David Bowie, but it's gone on to be one of his staple sounds.
8. The Goblin King
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David Bowie was introduced to a whole new generation of youths when he appeared in 'Labyrinth' a new collaboration between George Lucas and Jim Henson - famed for 'Star Wars' and 'The Muppets' respectively.

As well as acting as Jareth, the Goblin King, he also performed several songs in the film, including the catchy 'Magic Dance' and the more theatrical 'As The World Falls Down'.
9. 90s Bowie
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During the 1990s, David Bowie was still enjoying success as a musician and pop icon, but with a loyal fan base behind from over the past decades, he was no longer under pressure to create hits or reach the top of the charts.This allowed him to experiment with his sound, as well as his look, as imagery from this era proves.
10. Back In The Game Bowie
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An unquestionable music legend by the time the new millennium came, David Bowie made his dramatic return to the music scene with the release of his 24th (!!) album, 'The Next Day', his first in a decade. Hitting the UK top 10 with its lead single, 'Where Are We Now?', the album itself reached the top of the album chart, proving there was still room for him in the British music scene.

He followed this with 'Blackstar', which was released just two days before his death from cancer, at the age of 69.

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