David Bowie’s death on Jan. 10 rocked the music world. Bowie became a prolific performer through his exuberance and style. Over the course of his career, Bowie went through multiple twists and turns when it came to artistic direction. A look at his discography shows a progression through his career and multiple changes that led to the end with his final album Blackstar. Here are five albums that capture some of the best material from Bowie’s discography and show the creation and transformation of Ziggy Stardust.
- Aladdin Sane
If The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars was a peek into the character of Ziggy Stardust, then Aladdin Sane was a full immersion into the character’s world. With his patented red and blue lightning bolt face paint and trademark red hair, Bowie continued to push the style of Ziggy Stardust. Guitarist Mick Ronson played an important support role on the album and contributed greatly as the lead guitarist on the single “The Jean Genie.”
- The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
This album served as the first step for the development of Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust character. The album, which covered themes of sexual exploration and social commentary, led to the questioning of Bowie’s sexuality as well as the creation of the foundation for Ziggy Stardust. Guitarist Mick Ronson and David Bowie built a better bond as Ronson contributed solid riffs to “Starman” and “Rock n’ Roll Suicide.”
Heroes served as the second installment of the “Berlin Trilogy.” The album produced “Heroes,” one of Bowie’s best known tracks. Brian Eno also made contributions to the second half of the album with an electronic twist. Originally greeted with a melancholy reaction, Heroes has grown into one of the best albums on Bowie’s discography and produced “Heroes” and “Beauty and the Beast” as strong singles.
- Hunky Dory
The fourth album for Bowie, Hunky Dory served as a way to further distance himself from the beginning of his career and push his musical direction towards a folk-infused art-rock. “Changes” and “Life on Mars” dominated the track listing and served as staples in Bowie’s setlist for live shows. The album also captures some of the influences in Bowie’s music career, with songs like “Andy Warhol,” “Song for Johnny Cash” and “Queen Bitch” which carried elements from the Velvet Underground’s style.
Low served as a shift in direction for Bowie’s music with experimentation into electronic and avant-garde styles of music. Known as the first installment of the “Berlin Trilogy,” the album delivered singles including “Sound and Vision” and “Be My Wife.” Brian Eno also began to make a push towards the electronic influences that could be found throughout the “Berlin Trilogy.”