Here we have Bowie at the start of his Ziggy Stardust persona with the song “Life on Mars?” from 1971′s Hunky Dory. While the suits would return after Diamond Dogs, it would be quite a while before anyone wore a red mullet as gloriously as Bowie once had.
By 1980 — and after cleaning himself up after cocaine use had taken its toll on his mind — Bowie bid farewell to the Seventies in this video for “Ashes to Ashes” from 1980s Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps), as well as learning of the fate of Major Tom via a message from the Action Man.
After Bowie experienced mainstream success in the 1980s, he decided to make music for himself again. Alongside Tony & Hunt Sales and Reeves Gabrels, Tin Machine was born in 1988, coming out with their eponymous debut album — from whence “Under the God” comes — in 1989. One more studio album and a live disc would be released in the early Nineties before Bowie returned to his solo career and the band ceased to exist.
As a way to help his friend and fellow musician Iggy Pop while the latter dealt with his demons in the early 1980s, Bowie covered a number of the songs he wrote for Pop’s output in the late Seventies, with “China Girl” becoming the biggest hit of them all. “Sister Midnight” was given a makeover, becoming “Red Money” for 1977′s Lodger. The performance above of “Sister Midnight” comes from Bowie’s A Reality Tour during a stop at the Isle of Wright in 2003.
Finally, here is Bowie with Thomas Dolby and their one-off band performing “Heroes” during Live Aid in 1985, a performance of the song considered to be the best Bowie ever sung by Bowie biographer David Buckley.