David Bowie was born David Robert Jones in Brixton, South London. He developed an interest in music early on and began playing the saxophone aged 13. At 16, he started a career as a commercial artist, singing and playing with rock bands in his spare time. By 1966, Jones had recorded singles with three different groups and decided to set out on his own as a solo act. He decided on the stage name, David Bowie, to avoid confusion with Davy Jones (of pop group 'The Monkees').
After recording an unsuccessful solo album, Bowie dropped out of the music business for a spell, and began to study mime. In 1969, he formed his own mime troupe, Feathers, as well as an experimental art ensemble.
Neither was commercially successful, so Bowie signed a deal to record another album, which included the offbeat 'Space Odyssey'.
Bowie's next album, 1970s 'The Man Who Sold the World', represented a move toward a harder rock sound and, in 1972, he scored his breakthrough with 'The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust' and 'The Spiders From Mars', a concept album about a sexually ambiguous rock star from outer space.
Released as the glam rock scene was beginning to peak, Ziggy Stardust made Bowie a full-fledged superstar, in both England and the United States. Bowie was to become as famous for his campy cross-dressing and different coloured eyes, (the result of a schoolyard fight that left one pupil permanently enlarged) as for his dramatic sound.
In 1976, director Nicolas Roeg cast Bowie in his first leading role, as an unhappy alien who becomes a famous industrialist and pop star, as he tries to find a way home in 'The Man Who Fell to Earth'. The story seemed made-to-order for Bowie's public persona, and he gave a fine performance, which helped the film become a modest box-office success.
In 1983, Bowie's album 'Let's Dance' brought him to new heights of commercial success and his next major film, Nagisa Oshima's 'Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence', found him receiving top billing for what was essentially a supporting role. He also recorded music for 'Hero' and 'The Falcon' and ‘The Snowman'.
In 1986, Bowie scored one of his rare leading roles in a mainstream film, when he starred in the big-budget fantasy 'Labyrinth'. He also appeared as Pontius Pilate in Martin Scorsese's 'The Last Temptation of Christ'.
In 1997, David Bowie broke new ground, yet again, with the Internet-only release of his single 'Telling Lies.'
Having completed a world tour in 1997, David Bowie has proven himself to be a true music industry survivor.
In 1999, he recorded a duet with Brian Molko on the Placebo track 'Without You I'm Nothing' before he returned back to the studio to record an album.
On 15 August 2001, Alexandria Zahra Jones was born. She was the first child of Bowie's with his second wife Iman Abdulmajid, who he married in 1992.
In October that year, he opened the 'Concert for New York City', which was held to benefit the victims of the 11 September attacks in the US. In 2002, he released the album 'Heathen', which was followed by another album and tour called 'Reality', which became the best-selling tour of 2003. In 2004, he was performing in Oslo when a lollipop hit him in the eye and a week later he suffered chest pains, which was later diagnosed as a blocked artery, leading Bowie to need heart surgery. He cancelled the last 15 dates of his tour.
Following his heart surgery, Bowie has slowed down and only makes one-off appearances on stage. He took part in a duet of 'Changes' for the 2004 film 'Shrek 2'.
He also performed on stage with Arcade Fire in 2005 and made a radio commercial with Snoop Dogg the same year.
Bowie was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award on 8 February 2006 before announcing in April that he would be taking a year break from making music and from touring. However, on 29 May he made a surprise appearance at David Gilmour's concert at the Royal Albert Hall. His performances were recorded and released as a CD.
In 2008, he performed on Scarlett Johansson's album of Tom Waits covers called 'Anywhere I Lay My Head'. A double album of performances from Bowie's 2003 tour was released in January 2010. In March 2013, Bowie released his 24th album, 'The Next Day'.
David Bowie died on January 10th 2016 at the age of 69 after an 18 month battle with cancer.