David Bowie

            David Bowie began singing in the 1960s, but his work in the 1970s has been integral to his status as one of the greatest rock singers who ever performed. His work ranged from more experimental pieces to traditional pop hits, and his 1972 foray into glam rock under the name of Ziggy Stardust is practically inseparable from any discussion of his work. He had the sophistication of any true singer and songwriter, but he has always known how to approach the subject of music with a fair degree of wit.

One of the primary attributes that has played a hand in David Bowie’s success is the sheer versatility of his voice. The voice he used as Ziggy Stardust was not the same voice he used when he wanted to croon or when he wanted to sing more traditional rock music. Much of his early music also showed off his impressive vocal range, able to hit high notes that would prove difficult for a fair number of other recording artists.

His alter egos were another integral part of his career. The most notable by far was Ziggy Stardust. Bowie had studied stagecraft, and he knew a thing or two about putting on a show. While he knew how to sell his alter egos, he did not allow them to take over his career. When he was done playing Ziggy, he left the character behind without hesitation. He also had the somewhat more controversial character, the Thin White Duke. This character, taken on by Bowie in 1976, was a bit more normal as far as manner and dress were concerned, but his personality during interviews with publications such as Playboy was scandalously outspoken.

Between Bowie’s talent for adopting different vocal qualities and his penchant for performing as different personas, it is no surprise that he was able to experiment with a few different styles of music. His 1969 self-titled album, containing songs such as “Space Oddity,” showed Bowie’s penchant for psychedelic folk and progressive rock. In 1972, he experimented with glam rock in The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. In 1975, the release of Young Americans showed his ability to combine hard rock with Philly soul, creating his own unique take on blue-eyed soul music.

It would be difficult to list all of Bowie’s hits, especially because many of his best songs were not necessarily ranked at the top of the charts. This is demonstrated by the song “The Bewlay Brothers,” on his 1971 album Hunky Dory. This song showed off his lyrical experimentation, while in 1977 he worked on the albums Low and “Heroes” with Brian Eno, which marked Bowie’s most ambient foray into experimental music. These were the first two albums of his Berlin Trilogy (completed by Lodger in 1979), which are known as the most avant-garde albums of Bowie’s career. Even in 2003, he continued to release quality songs on his album Reality, including “The Loneliest Guy” and his unreleased 1990s song, “Bring Me the Disco King.”

David Bowie has had a long-lasting and diverse career. He is able to record just about any style of music he wants without faltering, and he understands the importance of stagecraft and of putting on a show for his audience. Bowie has also become notable for his film appearances, the most famous being Labyrinth in 1986. He is a highly influential artist, and he continues to inspire other musicians with his versatile style and impeccable abilities.

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