Born David Jones on Jan. 8, 1947, he changed his name when the singer for the Monkees beat him to stardom. It was the first of many reinventions that sustained the singer's career over more than four decades.
Bowie's eponymous first album, released in 1967, seems incongruous compared to his later glam-rock performances, such as the song "Rubber Band," which prominently features a tuba. Its release on the very same day as The Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper" didn't help.
Dropped by his label, Bowie followed up two year later with "Space Oddity," which was a hit in both England and the U.S. The title track, about the astronaut Major Tom's travels in space, reached Number 1 on the U.K. Singles Chart.