1. Sound and vision
When David Bowie sang "he's chameleon, comedian, Corinthian and caricature" on his 1971 song The Bewlay Brothers he could easily have been singing about himself.
Throughout his six decades as a performing artist, he constantly re-invented his sound and persona. From the hippy pop of the Sixties through glam rock and drum and bass to the esoteric jazz sounds of his final album, Bowie never stood still. Generations of musicians cite him as an influence.
His innovative spirit went beyond music in areas such as acting, art and the internet. Here is a look at Bowie's work from the Sixties to the present day.
2. The 1960s
Bowie began the Sixties as a saxophone-playing schoolboy called David Jones with his sights clearly set on being a pop star.
He played with an assortment of bands during the decade in his quest to become a star. His first-ever record was Liza Jane/Louie Louie Go Home in 1964, under the name of Davie Jones with The King-Bees.
He changed his name to Bowie in 1966 and a year later released his first album - a mix of pop songs, vaudeville and psychedelia that bares little relation to his later work.
Bowie ended the Sixties with a hit single Space Oddity - from his second album - which gave just a hint of the huge decade that lay ahead.
3. The 1970s
Bowie kicked off the Seventies with guitar rock album The Man Who Sold the World and followed it in 1971 with the acclaimed Hunky Dory, which contained one of Bowie's best-loved anthems, Life on Mars?
In 1972, Bowie introduced his flamboyant alter ego Ziggy Stardust on the concept album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Worldwide stardom followed.
After the glam rock years, Bowie recorded his "plastic soul" album Young Americans (1975) and followed it with Station to Station, which he recorded after he starred in Nicolas Roeg's The Man Who Fell to Earth. A still from the film appeared on the album cover.
As punk exploded into the UK pop charts, Bowie moved to Berlin and concluded the 1970s with three experimental art rock albums - Low, Heroes and Lodger - which mixed esoteric electronica with avant-garde lyrics.
Famous songs from this era included Sound and Vision, Heroes, Boys Keep Swinging and DJ.
4. The 1980s
Bowie reached his commercial peak in the first half of the 1980s. His first three albums of the decade all went to number one in the UK.
Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) spawned the hit single Ashes to Ashes (and its groundbreaking video) and revisited the character of Major Tom from Space Oddity.
Bowie attracted a whole new generation of fans with 1983's Let's Dance album, which contained the hit single of same title as well as China Girl and Modern Love.
Bowie spent much of the same year on the road with the spectacular Serious Moonlight world tour.
1984's Tonight album, although a top-seller, was not such a critical success. Likewise his 1987 follow up Never Let Me Down and its accompanying Glass Spider Tour.
The late 1980s saw Bowie go back to his rock roots with Tin Machine, a postmodern heavy metal project. It must have seemed a good idea at the time, but their two albums were widely panned.
5. The 1990s
Bowie returned as a solo artist with Black Tie White Noise (1993) , an upbeat and listenable album inspired by his wedding to Somali supermodel Iman.
The under-rated concept album Outside (1995) - which reunited Bowie with his Berlin-era collaborator Brian Eno - saw him move into less commercial territory.
In 1996, Bowie became a web pioneer with the first internet-only release of the song Telling Lies. He was also the first musician to create an internet service provider.
1997's Earthling album - which featured Bowie on the cover in a distinctive Union Jack coat - saw him mix drum and bass with industrial rock.
The decade ended with the album Hours... notable for being available as a digital release two weeks ahead of the CD arriving in the shops.
6. The 2000s
A decade that started strongly for Bowie, but which also saw him retreat from the public gaze.
In 2000, Bowie gave a storming headline performance at the Glastonbury festival, nearly three decades after his debut there.
Bowie's 2002 album Heathen was considered a return to form and was followed by 2003's Reality.
During 2004's Reality tour, Bowie suffered chest pains and underwent emergency heart surgery for a blocked artery. Musically, Bowie went quiet.
But in 2006 he appeared on the big screen in Christopher Nolan's illusionist drama The Prestige.
A memorable cameo appearance in Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's TV comedy Extras in the same year saw Bowie at a piano in a bar singing a song called Chubby Little Loser.
7. The 2010s
After years of silence, Bowie surprised the world in January 2013 by releasing his first new song in 10 years.
The new single - Where Are We Now? - appeared on his 66th birthday. A new album, the widely-acclaimed The Next Day, followed in March.
Later the same year the David Bowie exhibition at London's V&A became the fastest-selling in the museum's history.
Bowie remained out of the public eye, but there was much excitement when it was announced that he was co-writing a stage show called Lazarus, inspired by The Man Who Fell to Earth.
It opened in December 2015 at the New York Theatre Workshop and featured new Bowie songs as well as some reworked classics.
News of a new album, Blackstar, followed. Released on Bowie's 69th birthday on 8 January 2016 it would turn out to be the singer's final studio work.
The star, one of the most influential musicians of his time, died two days later.