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PHOTOS: How David Bowie transformed into a cultural icon

From David Robert Jones to Davie Jones to David Bowie to Ziggy Stardust and back, transformative British rocker David Bowie was a counterculture icon with a following that transcended music, fashion and beyond. Bowie died on Sunday, two days after his 69th birthday, his reps confirmed on Facebook. During his decades-long career, Bowie became a performer who changed his look more dramatically than almost anyone else.

Bowie, born David Robert Jones on Jan. 8, 1947, changed his name following The Monkees’ Davy Jones’ rise to stardom. From there, he would transform his look continually over the course of his career, from a ’60s mod look to lightning bolt face paint and an eye patch, Bowie was always redefining gender norms and what was considered fashionable.

David Bowie performs at the Panathinaikos stadium in Athens during a rock festival, July 1, 1996. The two-day festival includes performances by Lou-Reed, Simply-Red, and Elvis-Costello.

David Bowie performs at the Panathinaikos stadium in Athens during a rock festival, July 1, 1996. The two-day festival includes performances by Lou-Reed, Simply-Red, and Elvis-Costello. Photo by: Reuters.

In the 1960s, Bowie learned the saxophone and joined a band, The Konrads. He recorded his first self-titled solo album in 1967. In 1972, he was propelled to fame with the emergence of his androgynous, other-worldly alter ego, Ziggy Stardust. Rock and roll hasn’t seen an alien with a flaming red mullet since.

In the 1972 Rolling Stones review of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, Richard Cromelin writes: “For although Lady Stardust himself has probably had more to do with androgony’s current fashionableness in rock than any other individual, he has never made his sexuality anything more than a completely natural and integral part of his public self, refusing to lower it to the level of gimmick but never excluding it from his image and craft. To do either would involve an artistically fatal degree of compromise.”

On stage, Bowie was known for wearing high heels, dresses, glitter facepaint and other gender-bending fashion, all the while maintaining a sexually-charged coolness. According to Women’s Wear Daily, Bowie’s ’70s and ’80s glam rock androgynous costumes influenced a wide array of designers – decades after the retirement of Ziggy Stardust – including Alexander McQueen, Jean Paul Gaultier and Tommy Hilfiger.

David Bowie poses for a portrait in the early 1970s . Photo by: Popperfoto/Getty Images

David Bowie poses for a portrait in the early 1970s . Photo by: Popperfoto/Getty Images

Musician David Bowie performs onstage during his "Ziggy Stardust" era in 1973 in Los Angeles. The legendary music man died after an 18-month battle with cancer. He was 69. Photo by: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Musician David Bowie performs onstage during his “Ziggy Stardust” era in 1973 in Los Angeles. Photo by: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

David Bowie performs as Ziggy Stardust in 1973. Photo by: Chris Walter/WireImage

David Bowie performs as Ziggy Stardust in 1973. Photo by: Chris Walter/WireImage

David Bowie performs in Nashville on June 29, 1974 during his Diamond Dogs tour. Photo by: Beth Gwinn/Getty Images

David Bowie performs in Nashville on June 29, 1974 during his Diamond Dogs tour. Photo by: Beth Gwinn/Getty Images

David Bowie headlines at the Glastonbury Festival June 25, 2000. Day three of the festival saw a performance by rock legend Bowie playing for the first time at Glastonbury since 1971, when the event was only in its second year.

David Bowie headlines at the Glastonbury Festival June 25, 2000. Day three of the festival saw a performance by rock legend Bowie playing for the first time at Glastonbury since 1971, when the event was only in its second year. Photo by: Reuters.

David Bowie performs in a concert during his worldwide tour called "A Reality Tour" at T-mobile arena in Prague, June 23, 2004. Photo by: David W Cerny/Reuters

David Bowie performs in a concert during his worldwide tour called “A Reality Tour” at T-mobile arena in Prague, June 23, 2004. Photo by: David W Cerny/Reuters

David Bowie in Concert during "Area2" Festival in Northern California at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California on August 14, 2006. Photo by: J. Shearer

David Bowie in Concert during “Area2” Festival in Northern California at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California on August 14, 2006. Photo by: J. Shearer

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