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Encore: A look at the many faces of David Bowie

Web posted on: Tuesday, September 29, 1998 3:55:33 PM

A NewsStand: CNN & Entertainment Weekly report
From Correspondent Judd Rose

(CNN) -- In the late 1960s, when most rock music fans were listening to British bands such as the Beatles and the Stones, an unknown Brit musician was preparing to reinvent rock. His name was David Bowie. Today he's considered the godfather of "glam rock," and over the years, he has changed his image many times to stay on the cutting edge of the music scene.

"Fame," a song that Bowie co-wrote with John Lennon, was the musician's first No. 1 hit in the United States, topping pop charts in 1975. But Bowie's assault on the music industry started in 1969 when "Space Oddity" hit the British charts. The eerie ballad opened the doors for rock musicians to expand their expectations and horizons.

Bowie made an even bigger splash in 1972, when he recreated himself as the androgynous Ziggy Stardust and "glam rock" was born. Ziggy Stardust had a loyal and manic following. Nonetheless, at the height of his popularity, Bowie came up with yet another new look and sound, one of many he would adopt over the years.

He called his 1975 album, "Young Americans," an exercise in "plastic soul." It hit number 28, but it was "Fame," the second single from the album, that made Bowie a success in America.

The hits continued to come and Bowie continued to reinvent himself. His theatrical flair made him a hit with the 1980s MTV generation with songs like "Let's Dance" and "China Girl."

Twenty-three years after "Fame" hit number one, David Bowie, now 51, is living off the riches of gold records and smart investments. Business Age magazine reported in 1997 that David Bowie is the world's richest rocker, worth $917 million.

But he remains on the cutting edge. Last year at his 50th birthday concert bash at Madison Square Garden, Bowie told his fans, "I don't know where I'm going from here, but I promise it won't be boring."

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