British rock singer, songwriter, and actor, noted for his chameleon-like changes of style and image.
Born in London, Bowie began his musical career while still in his teens, playing in bands and as a solo performer. He also studied mime and dabbled in experimental theatre. In 1969 he enjoyed his first hit with ‘Space Odyssey’, a song that announced his characteristic themes of space fantasy and alienation. The early 1970s saw Bowie's emergence as a major star, with such albums as The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust (1972) and Aladdin Sane (1973) achieving both critical and commercial success. His popular fame owed much to his disturbing androgynous image, exploited to the full in his theatrical stage performances. After several changes of style and image, Bowie moved to Berlin in the late 1970s, where he made a series of experimental albums including Low (1976) and “Heroes” (1977). In the early 1980s he moved back towards the pop mainstream, enjoying number one hits with ‘Ashes to Ashes’ (1980) and ‘Let's Dance’ (1983). However, subsequent albums, including three featuring his band Tin Machine, failed to match the impact of his earlier work. Black Tie, White Noise (1993), and Outside (1995) were seen as a partial return to form.
Bowie has also pursued an occasional career as an actor, starring in such films as The Man Who Fell to Earth (1975) and Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence (1982). In 1980 he appeared on Broadway in the title role of The Elephant Man. During the 1990s he has become increasingly prominent in the world of contemporary art as a patron, collector, and critic.