David Robert Jones is born in the Brixton section of London to Margaret “Peggy” Burns and Haywood “John” Jones. The couple marry eight months later.
June 5, 1964
Davie Jones & The King Bees puts out their first single, “Liza Jane,” which got no airplay and didn’t sell. The band broke up soon afterward.
Sept. 17, 1965
Bowie’s manager announces that his client will now be known as “David Bowie.” The name change was owed to the growing prominence of Davy Jones, an actor starring in Oliver! at the time and soon to join The Monkees.
Sept. 1, 1967
Bowie first records with the producer Tony Visconti, who would be his friend and collaborator for the rest of his life. Unfortunately, the single they cut, “Let Me Sleep Beside You,” gets rejected by Bowie’s current label, Deram.
July 11, 1969
The 22-year-old releases his breakthrough single, “Space Oddity.” After a decade’s worth of disappointments, Bowie gets his first-ever U.K. Top 10. The song receives little airplay in the U.S. -- it would only chart there in 1973.
Feb. 5, 1970
In a BBC session, Bowie plays publicly for the first time with guitarist Mick Ronson, who would soon become the linchpin of backing band The Spiders From Mars.
March 20, 1970
Bowie marries Angela “Angie” Barnett, who would give birth to their son, Zowie (aka future film director Duncan Jones) in May 1971.
July 6, 1972
Bowie and The Spiders perform “Starman” on Top of the Pops -- a now-legendary performance that introduces Bowie (in his Ziggy Stardust persona) to a generation of British teenagers. “After ‘Starman,’ everything changed,” his drummer Woody Woodmansey would later recall.
July 3, 1973
Just as quickly, it was over. Bowie tells an audience at London’s Hammersmith Odeon that this “is the last show we’ll ever do.” The Spiders break up and Bowie retires the Ziggy Stardust character.
March 29, 1974
Bowie leaves Britain. Though he would visit London, he never lives there again. Instead he resides in Los Angeles, Berlin, Switzerland and the island of Mustique. He died a New Yorker.
Sept. 20, 1975
“Fame” -- the second single from ninth album Young Americans -- hits No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, giving Bowie his first-ever U.S. chart-topper. This was the culmination of his interest in funk, Latin and R&B, which also spawned the late 1974 “Soul Dogs” tour, with Luther Vandross as a backing singer.
March 21, 1976
Arrested with Iggy Pop for marijuana possession in Rochester, N.Y., during a stint of heavy drug use, isolation and financial turmoil, Bowie would later describe this period as being the worst years of his life. His Isolar Tour, in support of his tenth studio album Station To Station, would end in the following May, thereby retiring his Thin White Duke persona, and the exhausted performer would retreat to Europe for the rest of the 1970s, recording the “Berlin” trilogy and producing two pop albums.
Jan. 27, 1983
Bowie signs with EMI, a lucrative contract estimated to be in the $17 million range. His first LP for the label, April’s Let’s Dance, spawns three hit singles and fuels a massive global tour.
July 13, 1985
Bowie performs a well-received set at Live Aid, while the high camp promotional video that he and Mick Jagger shoot to benefit the concert -- their cover of Martha & The Vandellas’ “Dancing In the Street” -- becomes a source of bafflement for future generations on YouTube.
June 27, 1986
Jim Henson’s Labyrinth opens in the U.S. to mixed reviews and disappointing box office. Bowie’s performance as Jareth the Goblin King -- with his gigantic shock wig and tight trousers -- would captivate a generation of younger fans.
May 30, 1987
The opening date of Bowie’s Glass Spider Tour. Featuring a parasailing dance troupe, a giant spider prop, Peter Frampton on lead guitar and Bowie sporting a colossal mullet haircut, the tour soon becomes a synonym for ambitious excess. In 1989, Bowie claimed the 360-ton spider was burned in a New Zealand field, but it actually wound up in a warehouse owned by the tour manager, who sold some of it for scrap metal.
May 22, 1989
Tin Machine released. Bowie’s attempt to destroy his global pop star image was to join an abrasive four-piece band who performed songs with titles like “Crack City.” The project would estrange him from EMI, which declined to release 1991’s Tin Machine II. While some Bowie purists still recoil at the name “Tin Machine,” the then-42-year-old would later say that his years with the band helped him salvage his creative dignity.
April 24, 1992
Following his 1980 divorce from Angie, Bowie marries Iman Abdulmajid in a private ceremony in Florence, Italy. (They also had a public one, whose guests included Brian Eno, Bono and Yoko Ono.) Their daughter, Alexandria, would be born in 2000.
Sept. 14, 1995
First show of the co-headlining Nine Inch Nails/Bowie tour, which gets some hostile audience reactions. “I personally did like the combination of NIN and me, but my fans didn’t,” Bowie later said. “Bad luck!”
Sept. 1, 1998
Bowienet launches. Arguably the first musician social media site, the portal offered (for a $20 monthly subscription) tour recordings, Bowie’s journals and his recommendations on books and films. There Bowie interacted with fans on message boards and even ran a songwriting contest in which he sang a fan’s lyrics (“What’s Really Happening?” on 1999’s Hours). His interest waned by the mid-2000s and the site was shuttered in 2012.
Oct. 20, 2001
Bowie opens the benefit Concert For New York City at Madison Square Garden with a stunning cover of Paul Simon’s “America.” It was one of his most emotional and resonant performances, for an arena full of first responders from the New York fire and police departments and the survivors of 9/11 victims.
June 25, 2004
A few days after suffering a heart attack backstage in Prague, Bowie plays the final concert of his worldwide A Reality Tour in Scheessel, Germany. Various mishaps and disasters plagued the 112-show global run, including the death of a stagehand, a fan-thrown lollipop hitting Bowie in the eye, and the musician’s offstage collapse at a Czech Republic show. He would never tour again.
Nov. 9, 2006
Bowie performs a brief fundraiser set at New York City’s Hammerstein Ballroom, where he sings three songs including an Alicia Keys duet of “Changes.” This would be his last-ever concert appearance.
Jan. 8, 2013
On his 66th birthday, Bowie surprise-releases a new single, “Where Are We Now?” and announces an LP, The Next Day. Three years in the making, the album hits No. 2 on the Billboard 200 album chart and launches a productive burst that marked his last years.
Dec. 7, 2015
Lazarus -- a stage production co-written by Bowie and Irish playwright Enda Walsh -- opens at the New York Theatre Workshop. With Michael C. Hall in the lead role, the play was finished and rehearsed while Bowie was working on his last album, Blackstar. Director Ivo van Hove called the dual projects Bowie’s “two testaments.” The Lazarus premiere’s curtain call would be his final public appearance.
Jan. 10, 2016
David Bowie dies of cancer in New York, two days after his 69th birthday and the release of his 26th studio LP Blackstar. Now he belongs to the ages.