David Bowie Highlights From Billboard Archives: His First No. 1 Hit, Smokin' Hot Ad & More

David Bowie
Virginia Turbett/Redferns

David Bowie performs on stage on the 'Serious Moonlight' tour, Milton Keynes Bowl, United Kingdom in July 1983. 

When someone close to you dies, you crack open old scrapbooks, click through Facebook photos and shuffle through assorted memorabilia. When an artist you love dies, you tend to do the same thing -- even if you didn't personally know them, you want to pore over old pictures and dig up interesting anecdotes as a means of mourning, celebrating and coping.

With David Bowie's passing on Jan. 10, we spent some time looking through old issues from our archives to see what the eclectic rocker's presence in Billboard looked like throughout his heyday.

David Bowie Deep Cuts: 15 Gems From His Vast Catalog

Below, here's a scanned image of the Billboard Hot 100 for the Sept. 20, 1975-dated frame, the week David Bowie earned his first No. 1 hit on the chart with the funk foray "Fame." (Note that immediately below "Fame," it's a different stylistic story, with country and folk songs occupying the Nos. 2-4 slots -- until the Isley Brothers bring back the funk at No. 5.)

Fun aside: Not unlike recent Billboard charts, this 1975 Hot 100 page features a "Sorry" song (John Denver's "I'm Sorry") and a hit called "Bad Blood" (from Neil Sedaka).

Old Billboard magazines are stuffed with full-page ads for then-contemporary albums and tours, and we found a few fantastic ones for Bowie. From 1975, here's a smokin' sexy ad of the Thin White Duke beatin' a butt to promote his Station to Station album, which produced one of his biggest hits, the No. 10-peaking "Golden Years," which was his third biggest Billboard chart hit overall (Yes, smoking is bad, but on the other hand, it's probably not the most dangerous substance he was ingesting that year.)

A few years later, here's Bowie shirtless and ready to box in an ad for 1983's Let's Dance that proudly proclaims this LP is "The Main Event." There was truth to that boast: Let's Dance -- featuring the contributions of Nile Rodgers -- became one of Bowie's biggest albums and gave him his second No. 1 hit with the title track.

Speaking of No. 1s, it's looking like Blackstar -- his brilliant swan song -- could become Bowie's first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200. The final figures will be released on Billboard.com this Sunday, Jan. 17.


The Biz premium subscriber content has moved to Billboard.com/business.

To simplify subscriber access, we have temporarily disabled the password requirement.