Bowie exhibition charts life of pop's ultimate Starman
March 22, 2013 -- Updated 1107 GMT (1907 HKT)
David Bowie's electric performance of "Starman" on the BBC program "Top of the Pops" in July 1972 wearing this vivid outfit cemented his status in Britain. DJ Marc Riley said it "lit the touchpaper for thousands of kids," thanked in no small measure by Bowie's homoerotic stage play with guitarist Mick Ronson.
A history of David Bowie in 15 objects
Musical instrument, 1961
Musical instrument, 1969
Song lyrics, 1972
Sketches and notes, 1973/4
Drugs paraphernalia, 1974
Musical instrument, 1974
- Doors to open on exhibition of life of David Bowie at V&A museum in London
- His 27th studio album, "The Next Day," is riding high at the top of UK charts
- "David Bowie Is" chronicles Bowie's long career as singer, musician and actor
- Exhibition features for the first time more than 300 objects from Bowie's life
London (CNN) -- David Bowie always did have impeccable timing. He released his song about a doomed astronaut, "Space Oddity," just days before the 1969 Moon landing. Four years later he killed off his most famous creation, the other-worldly "Ziggy Stardust," just at the point it threatened to overwhelm him.
More than 130 million record sales later, Bowie is back after a relatively quiet decade (he underwent emergency heart surgery in 2004). He celebrated his 66th birthday in January by releasing "Where Are We Now," his first song for more than 10 years, without any warning. His 27th studio album, "The Next Day," is riding high at the top of UK charts, earning critical acclaim.
This weekend the doors will open on an extraordinary exhibition of Bowie's life and career at the V&A Museum in London.
Exhibition charts Bowie's amazing career
"David Bowie Is" chronicles the rise of an unknown singer called David Jones from the south London suburbs through his "Ziggy Stardust" heyday and his later ground-breaking years spent holed up in Berlin. It also takes in his many acting roles and acclaimed fashion designs over the years.
Read why Bowie is back to his mysterious best
Old friends talk about David Bowie
Designing David Bowie's big comeback
David Bowie retrospective
The exhibition's curators, Geoffrey Marsh and Victoria Broackes, have had full access to the star's archives, which means they have almost everything worth having. "Most bands go bust or split up," says Marsh, "so to find a collection in one place which represents 40 or 50 years is pretty rare.
"There's a whole generation which has grown up with him and although they find the idea of him in a museum a bit strange I think the fact that he can do that and produce a successful new album at the same time actually shows what a remarkable person he is."
The exhibition features for the first time more than 300 objects from Bowie's life, from amazing stage outfits to rare photographs from the early years, videos of outstanding live performances screened in a thunderously loud surround-sound cinema, Bowie's own musical instruments, record cover designs and paintings.
"When you see the costumes close up it is really thrilling," says Broackes. "Nothing beats it really in this age -- when you can do so many things in other ways -- actually seeing the real thing. You might have seen it on TV, you might have seen it on stage or on film, but to see for example the 'Ashes to Ashes' costume close up it's pretty fantastic. We've also got the Ziggy costumes and they're amazing."
The exhibition is creating almost as much of a buzz as Bowie's new music, reflecting the unique position he holds in the British arts and music landscape. As Broackes says: "Bowie's permeated every area of our culture. He is no ordinary pop star."
"David Bowie Is" at the V&A in central London, and runs from March 23 until August 11.
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 0102 GMT (0902 HKT)
A 15-year-old pregnant girl is rescued from slavery, only to be charged with having sex outside of marriage, shocked rights activists say -- a charge potentially punishable by death.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 0333 GMT (1133 HKT)
After sushi and ramen, beef is on the list of must-eats for many visitors to Japan.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1607 GMT (0007 HKT)
Airports judged on comfort, conveniences, cleanliness and customer service.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1440 GMT (2240 HKT)
Scientists use CT scans to recreate a life-size image of the ancient king.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 0241 GMT (1041 HKT)
Despite billions spent on eradicating poppy production, Afghan farmers are growing bumper crops, a U.S. government report says.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1319 GMT (2119 HKT)
With so many new attractions on the way, the next few years are going to be a roller coaster ride.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 0429 GMT (1229 HKT)
Thomas Malthus famously predicted that rising populations would create a food crunch: Could this be true?
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 0945 GMT (1745 HKT)
The lives of everyone close to Oscar Pistorius and the girl he killed are changed forever, his siblings say.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 0930 GMT (1730 HKT)
Gene Simmons reflects on 40 years of KISS, and how even rock royalty needs sound business principles.
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 1033 GMT (1833 HKT)
From "Sick Man of Europe" to the world's fourth largest economy.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 0915 GMT (1715 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.