Royal Mail will issue a set of stamps on March 14 honouring David Bowie, one of the most influential figures in modern music.

Issued in the year of what would have been his 70th birthday, and marking 50 years since he released his first album, it comprises six self-adhesive stamps reproducing some of his most famous album covers, and a gummed miniature sheet of four based on photographs of Bowie performing live, in tours spanning four decades.

The self-adhesives have free-form edges showing the arc of the vinyl record protruding from the side, in a style used previously in 2010 (for the Classic Album Covers set which included his 1972 album The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders From Mars) and 2016. The range of products associated with this issue mirrors that of last year’s issue celebrating Pink Floyd, but this is the first time Royal Mail has dedicated an entire stamp issue to an individual music artist.

Born Robert Jones in Brixton, south London, Bowie (1947-2016) is widely regarded as having elevated his music to an art form, with his innovative habit of reinventing himself with adopted personas such as Ziggy Stardust and the Thin White Duke, and with his distinctive and influentual videos.

His style also varied from glam rock through plastic soul to new romantic, as he became one of the world’s best-selling artists and a cultural icon.

Designed by Royal Mail Group, the issue is printed by International Security Printers, the counter sheets in gravure and the miniature sheet in litho.

1st class HUNKY DORY

Bowie’s fourth album, released in 1971, included Changes and Life On Mars?

1st class ALADDIN SANE

Bowie’s sixth album, released in 1973, included the title track and The Jean Genie. The iconic cover photograph was by Brian Duffy.

1st class HEROES

Bowie’s 12th studio album, released in 1977, included the title track and was the second instalment of what became known as his ‘Berlin Trilogy’.

£1.52 LET’S DANCE

Bowie’s 15th studio album, released in 1983, included the title track, Modern Love and China Girl. It remains his best-selling album.

£1.52 EARTHLING

Bowie’s 20th studio album, released in 1997, included Little Wonder and Telling Lies, the first ever single by a major artist which was downloadable from the internet.

£1.52 BLACKSTAR

Bowie’s 28th and final studio album, released two days before his death in 2016, included Lazarus, whose lyrics and video were intended as a self-epitaph.

 

MINIATURE SHEET

1st class ZIGGY STARDUST TOUR, 1972

Promoting The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders from Mars album, this tour took in Britain, North America, and Japan.

£1.52 STAGE TOUR, 1978

Promoting the Low and Heroes albums, this tour took in North America, Europe, Australia and Japan.

1st class SERIOUS MOONLIGHT TOUR, 1983

Promoting the Let's Dance album, this was Bowie's longest and most successful tour, comprising 96 performances in 15 countries.

£1.52 REALITY TOUR, 2004

Promoting the Reality album, Bowie’s last tour included concerts in Europe, North America, Asia and Australasia, but was curtailed due to his illness.

 

OTHER PRODUCTS

Besides the usual presentation pack, first day covers and stamp cards, the philatleic service is also offering three different ‘fan sheets’, comprising five of the Aladdin Sane, Heroes and Hunky Dory stamps respectively, in limited editions of 7,500, and a Album Art fan sheet, comprising one each of the six counter sheet stamps, in a limited edition of 10,000.

 

PRICES

Set of 6 stamps   £6.46

Miniature sheet   £4.32

Presentation pack   £11.30

Stamp cards   £4.95

First day cover (stamps)   £8.20

First day cover (mini sheet)   £5.60

 

VERDICT

COMMEMORATIVE WORTH   4/5

Bowie was one of Britain’s leading cultural icons, and the issue is timely following his death last year

QUALITY OF DESIGN   2/5

The album covers follow an established design concept, while the stage photographs are nostalgic but uninspiring

WOW FACTOR   2/5

Some of the images are quite arresting, others surprisingly bland given Bowie’s famous flambuoyancy