Prolific musician and master of reinvention David Bowie died at 69 on Sunday after an 18-month battle with cancer. Up until his death, Bowie was creating new music, with Blackstar, his 28th studio album, released this past week on Jan. 8, his 69th birthday.
Bowie's impact over the course of his 48 years in the entertainment industry as a songwriter, producer, singer, actor and style pioneer is incalculable. Here are 10 of the icon's most memorable quotes about innovation, curiosity, creativity and fame.
1. "If I hadn't learned how to be a musician and writer, it wouldn't have mattered what I did." -- Interview with Esquire, 2004
2. "I really like to understand the society that I'm living in and how it works and functions and what people are thinking, you know. You can't be a writer in any other way, I think. You have to sort of know where you are to write." -- Interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2004
3. "I had a plan from when I was 8. … At no point did I ever doubt I would be as near as anybody could be to England's Elvis Presley. Even from 8 or 9 years old, I thought, Well, I'll be the greatest rock star in England. I just made up my mind." -- Interview with Interview Magazine, 1990
4. "A lot of people that I know are bugged with the idea that they have got to have an audience, or they have got to be liked. I think the more that you fall into that trap it makes your own life harder to come to terms with, because an audience appreciation is only going to be periodic at the best of times. You will fall in and out of favor continually. I do not think it should be something one should be looking for. You should turn around at the end of the day and say I really like that piece of work, or that piece of work sucked. Not, was that popular or wasn’t it popular?" -- Interview with Joe Smith, April 19, 1988
5. "I mean, honestly, I'm just a bloke doing his job, and it's not terribly complicated. What I do is I write mainly about very personal and rather lonely feelings, and I explore them in a different way each time. You know, what I do is not terribly intellectual. I'm a pop singer, for Christ's sake. As a person, I'm fairly uncomplicated." -- Interview with GQ, 2002
6. "I've never responded well to entrenched negative thinking. When I'm faced with 'that won't work' or 'don't let's try that' I freeze up. I try to put judgement on hold for as long as possible. … It amazes me sometimes that even intelligent people will analyze a situation or make a judgement after only recognizing the standard or traditional structure of a piece. They will then confront the whole thing with a standard reaction and a standard reaction will not allow for deviancies. It's the kiss of death in creating something." -- Interview with Livewire, 2002
7. "What I have is a malevolent curiosity. That's what drives my need to write and what probably leads me to look at things a little askew. I do tend to take a different perspective from most people." -- Interview with New York Daily News, 2002
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8. "Popular culture has always addressed our fears and anxieties. I understand why there is so-called gratuitous sex and violence in art. ... It's psychologically important to society to have Shakespearean darkness expressed and those gladiatorial things played out." -- Interview with USA Today, 1995
9. "I think everybody who picks up a guitar or puts pen to paper has something in his system, in his self that he wants to express to others and have them understand. … If I don't put my all into something that I'm writing, I inevitably feel regrets about it." -- Interview with Today, 1993
10. "I needed to sing because no one else was singing my songs." -- Interview with NPR's Fresh Air, 2002