Eight-year-old David Bowie (born David Jones) at Burnt Ash Primary School, 1955.Night Spell
Teenage Bowie and his mandolin on Kingly Street in London during a shoot for Boyfriend magazine in the summer of 1963.Fiona Adams/Redferns
Bowie has his hair ruffled by his manager, Barry Langford, in 1965. Evening Standard/Getty Images
Bowie in London, 1966. Cyrus Andrews/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
A 20-year-old Bowie, 1967.King Collection/Photoshot/Getty Images
Bowie in the 1969 film Love You till Tuesday during the "Space Oddity" sequence. RB/Redferns
Bowie playing an acoustic 12-string guitar to promote the release of "Space Oddity," 1969.Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Bowie at the "Disc and Music Echo" Valentine Awards ceremony at the Cafe Royal in London, 1970.Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Bowie jams at a party thrown by publicist and future nightclub DJ Rodney Bingenheimer at lawyer Paul Figen's house in Los Angeles, 1971. Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Bowie with singer Dana Gillespie, 1971. Michael Stroud/Express/Getty Images
Bowie paints his ground floor apartment silver in 1972. This was just after the recording of his concept album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Michael Putland/Getty Images
Bowie performs onstage during his "Ziggy Stardust" era in Los Angeles, 1973. Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
English model Twiggy poses with Bowie for the cover of his Pin Ups album in Paris, 1973. Justin de Villeneuve/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Bowie performing as Ziggy Stardust, in his "woodland creatures" costume, 1973.Debi Doss/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Bowie performs during the Ziggy Stardust tour, 1973.Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns
Bowie dressed as Ziggy Stardust in a New York City hotel room, 1973.Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Bowie as Ziggy Stardust, 1973. Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Bowie wearing a mesh outfit with fake hands holding his chest, 1973. Terry O'Neill/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Adoring fans reach out to touch Bowie during the concert at London's Hammersmith Odeon Theatre, where he announced he was retiring his alter-ego "Ziggy Stardust' in 1973.
It had become difficult for Bowie to keep his real personality separate from Ziggy, who, Bowie said, "wouldn't leave me alone for years ... My whole personality was affected. It became very dangerous. I really did have doubts about my sanity."Steve Wood/Express/Getty Images
Bowie on a train, 1973.Smith/Express/Getty Images
Bowie dances in Dorothy-esque ruby slippers in 1974.Terry O'Neill/Getty Images
Bowie performs "Rebel Rebel" on the TV show TopPop, 1974.
David Bowie and his first wife, Angie, circa 1974. GAB Archive/Redferns
1974.Terry O'Neill/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Angie Bowie, son Zowie Bowie (Duncan Jones), and David Bowie at a press conference at the Amstel Hotel in Amsterdam, 1974.Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns
Bowie working on the artwork for his 1974 album Diamond Dogs in London. Terry O'Neill/Getty Images
Bowie sits at the console mixing board in a studio in circa 1975. Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
From left, David Bowie, Art Garfunkel, Paul Simon, Yoko Ono, John Lennon, and Roberta Flack at the Grammy Awards in 1975. Tim Boxer/Archive Photos/Getty Images
1976.Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Bowie poses for a portrait in 1976. Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Bowie performing on the Thin White Duke tour in 1976. Michael Putland/Getty Images
David Bowie arriving at Cherokee Recording Studio in Hollywood with a big carton of milk, 1976.Mark Sullivan/Contour by Getty Images
David Bowie, right, and Iggy Pop in Germany, 1977. Evening Standard/Getty Images
David Bowie performs live at The Winterland Ballroom in 1977 in San Francisco. Richard McCaffrey/Michael Ochs Archive/Getty Images
Bowie, performing at Madison Square Garden during a 1978 world tour. Richard E. Aaron/Redferns
Bowie on Madison Avenue, New York, 1983. Art Zelin/Getty Images
Bowie attends the opening night after-party for his Broadway play The Elephant Man in 1980. Robin Platzer/Images/Getty Images
Bowie on his 1983 Serious Moonlight tour. Ebet Roberts/Redferns
Bowie has his eyes matched for colour in the private studio at Madame Tussaud's in London, 1983. Keystone/Getty Images
Mick Jagger and David Bowie performing in the 1985 video for "Dancing in the Street,'"which the friends recorded to raise money for Live Aid famine relief. It only took 13 hours for the pair to record the song and finish the music video. RB/Redferns
David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly in a scene from the movie Labyrinth, 1986.Stanley Bielecki Movie Collection/Getty Images
Bowie leans out of a window to pass autographs to fans during a visit to, Brixton, London, 1989. He was visiting his birthplace for the opening of the new Brixton community center, which he helped fund. Dave Hogan/Getty Images
Tina Turner and Bowie, 1989.Dave Hogan/Getty Images
Bowie with wife Iman in 1990. "I was naming the children the night we met," he once said of his second wife. "It was absolutely immediate." They married in 1992.Ron Galella/WireImage
Bowie performs as part of Tin Machine at The Brixton Academy. London, 1991.Peter Still/Redferns
Bowie poses backstage at the Glastonbury festival, in a coat designed by Alexander McQueen, in 2000. Dave Hogan/Getty Images
Bowie in London, 2002. Dave Benett/Getty Images
David Bowie's unexpected death shook the world in 2016.
"At least the year can only get better from here," the blissfully ignorant humans of January thought.
After a singing, songwriting, and acting career that spanned five decades, the iconic performer had changed what it meant to be an innovator and an outsider.
His appeals for people to let their freak flags fly garnered him a fan base that verged on cultish and in the days following his death, teenagers born decades after his first album were still tearing up in the streets.
With his groundbreakingly androgynous fashions, wide-ranging voice, and ever-rotating cast of alter-egos, Bowie may be the single most inspiring artist to have ever come out of Britain.
"Ever unpredictable, the mercurial artist and fashion icon wore many guises throughout his life," Rolling Stone wrote after his death.
"Beginning life as a dissident folk-rock spaceman, he would become an androgynous, orange-haired, glam-rock alien (Ziggy Stardust), a well-dressed, blue-eyed funk maestro (the Thin White Duke), a drug-loving art rocker (the Berlin albums), a new-wave hit-maker, a hard rocker, a techno enthusiast and a jazz impressionist."
Above, we've gathered the 50 best David Bowie photos that document his constant and surprising evolution.
These images might make you miss him all over again, but they also prove that the singer was never really of this world anyway.
“I don’t know where I’m going from here," he said at Madison Square Garden on his 50th birthday. "But I promise it won’t be boring."
After looking through these David Bowie photos, check out these thrilling Johnny Cash photos as well as these larger-than-life Freddie Mercury photos.