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David Bowie: More than just a rock star

Fans are celebrating the legendary career of David Bowie upon the singer's death from cancer. "Entertainment Tonight" co-host Kevin Frazier joins CBSN more. 01:15

David Bowie rocked the world one last time when he released his final album, "Blackstar," on Jan. 8, 2016. The death bed imagery and lyrics from his latest album -- released two days before his death, on his 69th birthday -- seem to suggest he not only knew what was coming, but he turned his death into his last artistic event.

But Bowie was always more than a rock star over his career that spanned over five decades. He was a father and husband, an activist and a businessperson and more. Click through to see what else Bowie achieved in his life.

ZIggy Stardust

Bowie described the broad appeal of his most famous alter ego and why he was reluctant to give him a "definitive personality" 02:09

He was born David Jones, but Bowie had many alter egos, including Ziggy Stardust.

Ziggy Stardust emerged in 1972 as one of Bowie's most famous personas. The androgynous, bisexual alien rock star known as Ziggy had bright red hair, a lightning bolt on his face and skintight metallic bodysuits.

But Ziggy Stardust was more than a rock star from outer space. Bowie was one of the first celebrities to shed light on the idea of gender fluidity.

Singer-songwriter Mary Gauthier wrote on Twitter, "David Bowie showed this queer kid from Baton Rouge that gender outlaws are cool. Androgyny=rock&roll, not a reason to kill myself."

"I do think his work saved thousands of gender-different kids," Gauthier told the AP.

"He showed us there was a bigger world out there," Gauthier said. "He shattered the binary idea of gender -- as being male or female -- and he created that middle."

"David Bowie will always hold a special place in the hearts of many LGBT people," Sarah Kate Ellis, CEO and president of GLAAD, told the AP in an email message. "He was a beacon for all those who felt alienated because of their gender identity or sexual orientation, helped many to understand and accept themselves, continually challenged gender norms, and proved that being different is not only OK -- it is something to be proud of."

Diversity on MTV

David Bowie in 1977. EMI Records/Jones - Tintoretto Entertainment Co./Photo by Sukita

Never happy with the status quo, Bowie flipped the script during a 1983 MTV interview and publicly challenged the channel for its lack of diversity.

He asked then-DJ Mark Goodman, "I'm just floored by the fact that there's so few black artists featured on it. Why is that?"

"I think that we're trying to move in that direction," Goodman answered. "We want to play artists that seem to be doing music that fits into what we want to play for MTV. The company is thinking in terms of narrowcasting."

"That's evident," Bowie responded.

At the time, MTV was branded as a rock video channel, snubbing musicians like Rick James. Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean," which was released in 1983, was one of the first videos by a black musician to get lots of air time on the channel.

The Berlin Wall

A general view of the David Bowie exhibition at Martin Gropius Bau on May 19, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. Christian Marquardt/Getty Images

To Germany, Bowie was a hero.

The German Foreign Office thanked Bowie for "helping to bring down the #wall." The tweet refers to the time the star played a concert next to the Berlin Wall in 1987.

The message also said, "Good-bye, David Bowie. You are now among #Heroes."

Bowie used to say that "Heroes" was about two lovers by the Berlin Wall, but he later admitted in an interview with Performing Songwriter that the song was actually about his friend, producer Tony Visconti, and his German girlfriend (the relationship was an extramarital affair for Visconti).

n the same interview, Bowie said that the 1987 concert next to the wall in West Berlin was one his most emotional performances. He told Performing Songwriter that he could hear fans in East Berlin cheering.

"I was in tears," he said. "They'd backed up the stage to the wall itself so that the wall was acting as our backdrop ... There were thousands on the other side that had come close to the wall. So it was like a double concert where the wall was the division. And we would hear them cheering and singing along from the other side."

Bowie explained the significance of the song "Heroes" in his musical career.

"God, even now I get choked up," he said. "It was breaking my heart. I'd never done anything like that in my life, and I guess I never will again. When we did 'Heroes,' it really felt anthemic, almost like a prayer. However well we do it these days, it's almost like walking through it compared to that night, because it meant so much more."

Tech entrepreneur

Rock vocalist David Bowie, left, performs at the Fleet Center in Boston, Tuesday, March 30, 2004. Robert E. Klein/AP

Bowie had a sharp eye for business under that makeup.

He helped the New York Yankees develop their website in 1999, reports CBS Sports.

Bowie's Internet company, UltraStar, created the official website for the Yankees, which offered fans dial-up Internet access and membership in an online fan club, reported MTV.

"We couldn't be more pleased to be working with the premier team in all of sports," Bowie said in a statement. "We hope to deal with one of the most profound unanswered questions in all of sports: Paul O'Neill can play drums, Bernie Williams can play guitar, but who's on bass?"

Bowie also revealed to Rolling Stone that he used to play baseball. He said, "When I was fourteen, I was a member of a group of expatriate Canadians who had a team called the Dulwich Blue Jays, and they'd play on weekends, and I used to play outfield for them."

Though Bowie had great business acumen, he wasn't always looking to make a profit; the rock star released his album, "The Next Day," for free on iTunes in 2013.

Bowie bonds

David Bowie performs for the first night of his UK tour at the MEN Arena on November 17, 2003 in Manchester. Alex Livesey/Getty Images

There aren't many bonds as sexy as Bowie bonds.

In the mid-1990s, Bowie, his financial manager Bill Zysblat and banker David Pullman cooked up a plan to make money from his back catalog, reports the BBC.

In 1997, the artist sold "Bowie bonds," which were asset-backed securities that gave investors a share in his future royalties for 10 years.

Prudential Financial bought Bowie bonds for $55 million, which gave them a fixed annual return of 7.9 percent on Bowie's future income.

Bowie brokered a deal with label EMI that allowed him to sell Bowie bonds on royalties for 25 albums from 1969 to 1990.

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