1. “Space Oddity” – Bowie first displayed his knack for seizing the zeitgeist with this out-of-this-world track released in 1969, the year of the first moon landing. It told the story of astronaut Major Tom, adrift in space, lamenting “Planet Earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do.” Real-life astronauts embraced the song.
2. “Hunky Dory” – Bowie appeared on the cover of this 1971 album as an androgynous figure with long golden locks – one in an ever-changing array of styles and personas he would adopt and abandon. The songs explored sexual ambiguity, fame, new fatherhood and more. “Changes” was almost a career mission statement.
3. Ziggy Stardust – Bowie adopted the persona of the flame-haired alien rock star for his 1972 album “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.” Ziggy made Bowie a star, but even then he was clear-eyed about the capricious nature of fame and ruthless about moving on.
4. “Young Americans” – After Bowie killed off Ziggy in 1973, he moved through guises including the edgy Aladdin Sane before going to the United States and immersing himself in the sound of Philadelphia soul. His 1975 album “Young Americans” was a complete change of pace and featured the exuberant title track and the acid-tipped dancefloor-filler “Fame,” co-written by John Lennon.
5. “The Man Who Fell to Earth” – Bowie was perfectly cast as an alien adrift in the New Mexico desert in Nicholas Roeg’s 1976 film, which opened up a parallel career path as an actor.
6. “Heroes” – Bowie holed up in West Berlin in 1976, and, working with synth pioneer Brian Eno, produced three of the most remarkable albums of his career – “Low,” “Heroes” and “Lodger.” The 1977 single “Heroes,” a defiant shout of love in the face of potential armageddon, became an anthem for a generation.
7. “Ashes to Ashes” – “Ashes to ashes, funk to funky, we know Major Tom’s a junkie”: The first single from Bowie’s 1980 album “Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)” is a bittersweet sequel to “Space Oddity” that Bowie called his epitaph for the 1970s. It also saw him looking to the future and embracing the new art form of music videos.
8. “Let’s Dance” – Bowie embraced the mainstream – or the mainstream finally caught up with him – in 1983 for one of his biggest albums, considered by many to be the last flourish of his golden period.
9. “The Next Day” – After a decade of public silence, Bowie took fans and music critics by surprise in 2013 with a new album, “The Next Day.” It saw him looking back on songs such as “Where Are We Now,” which referenced his 1970s Berlin days.
10. “Blackstar” – Another surprise album was released Jan. 8, Bowie’s 69th birthday – a jazz-inflected journey that saw Bowie continuing to explore new sonic worlds.