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David Robert Jones, professionally known as David Bowie (January 8, 1947 - January 10, 2016), was an English musician, actor, record producer and arranger. Active in five decades of popular music and frequently reinventing his music and mage, Bowie was widely regarded as an innovator, has been cited as an influence by many musicians, and was known for the intellectual depth of his work.

He was well known for various image songs, such as "Ashes to Ashes", "Diamond Dogs", "Space Oddity", and "Ziggy Stardust." One of his most distinguishing traits, at least during his early years, was his possessing an androgynous physical appearance and having a coloured lightning bolt-shaped mark over his left eye. He was also the father of Hollywood director Duncan Jones.

Throughout his lifetime, Bowie sold roughly 140 million records worldwide. In 2012, Bowie was ranked ninth best selling singles artist in the United Kingdom with 10.6 million singles sold. During his lifetime, his record sales, estimated at over 100 million records worldwide, made him one of the best-selling music artists of all time. In the UK, he was awarded ten platinum, eleven gold and eight silver album certifications, and released 11 number-one albums. In the US, he received five platinum and nine gold certifications. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. On 17 January 2022, Bowie was announced as the best-selling vinyl artist of the 21st century.

Music career

Born in Brixton, South London, Bowie developed an interest in music as a child. He studied art, music and design before embarking on a professional career as a musician in 1963. "Space Oddity", released in 1969, was his first top-five entry on the UK Singles Chart. After a period of experimentation, he re-emerged in 1972 during the glam rock era with his flamboyant and androgynous alter ego Ziggy Stardust. The character was spearheaded by the success of Bowie's single "Starman" and album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, which won him widespread popularity. In 1975, Bowie's style shifted towards a sound he characterised as "plastic soul", initially alienating many of his UK fans but garnering him his first major US crossover success with the number-one single "Fame" and the album Young Americans. In 1976, Bowie starred in the cult film The Man Who Fell to Earth, directed by Nicolas Roeg, and released Station to Station. In 1977, he further confounded expectations with the electronic-inflected album Low, the first of three collaborations with Brian Eno that came to be known as the "Berlin Trilogy". "Heroes" (1977) and Lodger (1979) followed; each album reached the UK top five and received lasting critical praise.

After uneven commercial success in the late 1970s, Bowie had UK number ones with the 1980 single "Ashes to Ashes", its album Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps), and "Under Pressure", a 1981 collaboration with Queen. He reached his commercial peak in 1983 with Let's Dance; its title track topped both the UK and US charts. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Bowie continued to experiment with musical styles, including industrial and jungle. He also continued acting; his roles included Major Jack Celliers in Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983), Jareth the Goblin King in Labyrinth (1986), Pontius Pilate in The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), and Nikola Tesla in The Prestige (2006), among other film and television appearances and cameos. Around this time, he also adopted a more androgynous appearance, including a long mullet and facial makeup (at least one of which resembled a lightning bolt-like marking near his right eye). He stopped touring after 2004 and his last live performance was at a charity event in 2006. In 2013, Bowie returned from a decade-long recording hiatus with The Next Day. He remained musically active until his death in New York City, two days after his 69th birthday and the release of his final album, Blackstar (2016). The album debuted at number one in the UK and became his first album to reach number one on the Billboard 200 in the US. Since 2015, Parlophone has remastered Bowie's back catalogue through the "Era" box set series, starting with Five Years (1969–1973).

Relation to the Metal Gear series

In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Major Zero, during the Virtuous Mission, adopts the codename "Major Tom" for the mission, referencing the songs "Space Oddity" and "Ashes to Ashes" by Bowie (although in-universe, it's a reference to one of the failed tunnels in the World War II movie The Great Escape). Snake also quotes the line "Can you hear me, Major Tom?" from "Space Oddity" when contacting the Major.

Shortly after being defeated by Naked Snake, The Fury radios mission control while reliving his accident and states that he was "coming home" before smashing himself through the roof, referencing the song "Major Tom (Coming Home)" by Peter Schilling, which was written as a tribute and sequel to Bowie's "Space Oddity." When calling Para-Medic, she will ask Snake whether he's seen the film My Mother was a Teenage Spider Queen from Mars before admitting she hadn't absentmindedly, alluding to Bowie's former band "The Spiders from Mars." Both "Ashes to Ashes" and "Space Oddity" were originally planned to be used as the ending themes for Metal Gear Solid 3, although they were cut in favor of Starsailor.

In the Raymond Benson novelization for Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Bowie is briefly referenced in one of the beginning chapters, specifically when Raiden is onboard the elevator upon infiltrating the Big Shell, where he reflects that Rosemary had once told him that his androgynous physical appearance gave him a physical resemblance to Bowie during the latter's youth.[1]

The Diamond Dogs were partly named after Bowie's 1974 album of the same name.

In Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, the name of the military group Big Boss and Kazuhira Miller are running after the devastation of the Militaires Sans Frontières, Diamond Dogs, is partly named after the title track from Bowie's 1974 album of the same name. Kojima also indicated that he originally intended to open Metal Gear Solid V with the namesake song, although they decided against it.[2] In the E3 2015 trailer and the opening for The Phantom Pain, Venom Snake is seen picking up a tape labeled "From the Man Who Sold the World." Minus the word "from," this is the name of Bowie's 1970 song and album. Mission 46, as well as Big Boss's alias when sending Venom Snake the aforementioned tape, which is actually a message from him, is also a reference of the song. The song itself is available on a cassette tape that the player can collect. Contrary to popular belief, however, the version of "The Man Who Sold the World" that is featured in The Phantom Pain is not the one sung by Bowie. Instead, it is a cover version sung by Midge Ure. Just before debris was flung at him by a then-renegade Metal Gear Sahelanthropus, Skull Face, after his rant regarding his plans as well as him being erased from human memory by Zero regardless, paraphrases "Space Oddity" by yelling "Major... I'm burning up!"

Notes and references

  1. ^ Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty novelization by Raymond Benson (2009).
    Page 59: "[Raiden] pulled off the skullcap, revealing a long mane of white hair that tumbled out to cover his shoulders. His features were somewhat androgynous — Rose had once told him he looked like a young David Bowie.
  2. ^