David Bowie (1947-2016)

Pioneering musician David Bowie, 69, died January 10, 2016. For the previous 18 months he was being treated for cancer. Bowie was one of the most well-known and successful pop stars of the 1970s and beyond, and was both famously influenced by science fiction and an influence on SF writers himself.

Bowie was born David Robert Jones on January 8, 1947 in London. His earliest success was 1969 single “Space Oddity”, inspired in part by Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Bowie often played with persona, creating characters he portrayed on stage (and off), notably the SFnal “Ziggy Stardust” from the 1972 record Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. His dystopian concept album Diamond Dogs (1974) was first conceived as a musical version of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and was only reworked when Bowie was unable to obtain the necessary rights for an official adaptation. He played the title character in the 1976 film adaptation of Walter Tevis’s SF novel The Man Who Fell to Earth, a performance that inspired his persona “The Thin White Duke” from album Station to Station (1976). He also memorably portrayed the Goblin King Jareth in Jim Henson’s fantasy film Labyrinth (1986). Last year he collaborated on musical Lazarus, a sequel of sorts to The Man Who Fell to Earth, now playing off Broadway. His most recent album, Blackstar, was released just days before his death.

Bowie was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2013.

For more, see his entry in the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.

See the February Locus for a complete obituary.