David Bowie died Sunday at the age of 69 from cancer. His death was a gut punch to his millions of devoted fans and a shock considering the famed musical artist had just released a well-reviewed new album. Dying simply didn’t fit the youthful and otherworldly Bowie, who assumed countless alien personas throughout his career. As one Twitter user wrote, echoing the sentiments of thousands, “David Bowie didn’t die, he returned to his home planet. His work on Earth was done.”
Bowie’s death was significant because our society lost one of the great talents of our era. (But perhaps exposed his music to many others; sales and streams soared in the days after his death.)
But beyond that, it put in perspective the sheer breadth of his career – 25 albums, 100 singles, an estimated 140 million worldwide record sales. It highlights the fact that artists of Bowie’s magnitude are massive economic engines, generating billions of dollars from albums, tours, books, merchandise and more.
It’s no surprise that Bowie, a master marketer who was able to sell fans on his countless reinventions, cast a long promotional shadow. Here is a look at the creative items which reveal that Bowie’s shape-shifting uniqueness extended far beyond the music.