He changed the look, sound, style, even the sexual identity of rock'n'roll, and did so with otherworldly fearlessness, impeccable flair and a profound intellectual curiosity. And when he died on Jan. 10, he did so with unparalleled grace and originality.

The greatest gift that David Bowie bequeathed to popular music wasn't a sound or style -- though he had plenty of those -- but an idea: that art, like life, is a series of performances, and each version of the self is as real or unreal as any other. Freed from the gravitational pull of authenticity, a pop star could be anything or anyone, and the audience would play along. Bowie made constant reinvention the engine of pop.

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