Star of Stripes: David Bowie
Photography Masayoshi Sukita
Bowie forged the identity of the creative outsider, providing inspiration for generations beyond his own. We are particularly inspired by his desire to shape-shift and evolve, while maintaining his artistic message.
David Robert Jones was not to become David Bowie until the sixties, when he sought to distinguish himself from a series of failed records and the well-known Davy Jones of The Monkees, with whom he had been confused. Through multiple incarnations of himself, Bowie’s ability to surprise and capture audiences worldwide stayed constant from his first appearance as Ziggy Stardust to his death.
Photograph by Mick Rock
Born in 1947 to a waitress and a charity promotions officer, Bowie’s ambition and restless creativity were noted from his school days. It was not until the release of his album Space Oddity, five days before the launch of Apollo 11, that Bowie found commercial success, with the title track of this album reaching #5 in the UK. His decision to persevere with music making despite his previous failure had grown out of a need to finance the experimental art group, Beckenham Arts Lab, which he had created after a brief exploration of Buddhist monasticism and a study of mime in the late sixties.
1972’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars was to become Bowie’s first international hit, along with the re-release of Space Oddity, which reached the top 20 in America. Bowie’s Top of the Pops appearance featuring his colourful, androgynous outfit defined both his boundary-breaking style and the wave of experimental culture that was to follow.
Photograph by Brian Duffy
Over the ensuing decades Bowie morphed between personas (Aladdin Sane, Thin White Duke) and professions (musician, producer, actor), and found inspiration throughout the world, living in Berlin (his hit song, ‘Heroes’, tells the love story of a couple split by the Berlin Wall), Los Angeles and Switzerland as well as London, and travelled frequently to Africa, the Far East and Indonesia.
Image credit: Gavid Evans/Sotheby's Press Office
His death on 10th January 2016 marked the end of Bowie’s ever-evolving creativity, but the beginning of his great legacy.