None of Your Favorite Pop Stars Would Exist Without David Bowie

From Lady Gaga to Kylie Minogue, his influence is there.

The world is mourning the loss of David Bowie, who died of cancer at 69 on Sunday. He was a music pioneer who challenged our concept of fashion, gender and what it meant to be a rock star. His glam Ziggy Stardust character was one of the first times an artist experimented with hyper-fantasy in his presentation–bold colors, bizarre makeup and the notion we were watching walking art. It’s no wonder Ziggy is one of the icon’s most beloved–and replicated–characters.

He and other David personas are rampant in today’s pop crew. Whether you’re a Madonna super-fan or one of Katy Perry’s followers, Sir Bowie’s influence is palpable and undeniable. Some take direct cues from David–like Kylie Minogue’s lightning bolt streak during her 2007 X era–while others (like Lady Gaga) hold onto his essence in everything they do. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, after all, and these eight stars have the perfect role model. Rest in peace, David. You will be missed, and your art will live on forever–sometimes through other people.

  • 1 Spice Girls
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    Big platform shoes and provocative fashion statements–like Geri Halliwell’s Union Jack dress–were a part of the Spice Girls’ DNA in their heyday. But it was engrained in David’s long before.

  • 2 Rihanna
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    RiRi has David flare in everything she does, but the ANTi singer homaged the rocker’s signature eye patch a few years back.

  • 3 Madonna
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    Yes, even the Queen of Pop takes notes from the man who started it all. Take this ’70s-inspired get-up from her Girlie Show World Tour. David wore a similar outfit in 1973. And aside from this one moment, Madonna’s career is a visual feast–much like Mr. Bowie’s was.

  • 4 Kylie Minogue
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    Kylie directly referenced David for her “2 Hearts” single cover art back in 2007. Anyone notice that lightning bolt? (How can you not, to be honest?)

  • 5 Kesha
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    David’s appetite for color runs wild in Kesha’s career. From color in the hair to wild outfits and glitter–so much glitter–the “Tik Tok” singer really is a chip off the old block.

  • 6 Katy Perry
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    In this particular image, Katy embraced David’s notion to show skin–preferably leg. But in her career, Katy has an unyielding dedication to the aesthetics of the work. And that’s quintessential Bowie.

  • 7 Lady Gaga
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    Gaga retweeted someone who wrote, “In all honesty, Gaga as we know her would not exist without David Bowie,” and she is absolutely right. Gaga is the literal product of David’s school of stardom. Her knack for outrageous style and dedication to being a star 24/7 probably made David proud.

  • 8 Bruno Mars
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    Bruno’s flamboyant performance style–and penchant for ’20s-era clothing–puts him on the list of David lovers, specifically the David pictured above.