David Bowie was the most popular artist of 2016 – by far

David Bowie

Is there anything David Bowie can’t do?

Like Pablo Picasso and Oscar Wilde before him, his works have only become more popular following his untimely death.

The legendary singer, who died in January last year two days after his 69th birthday, has been revealed as the most popular recording artist of 2016.

David Bowie

Fans of Bowie, who changed public perceptions of sexuality and music throughout his incredible career, bought or streamed the equivalent of 1.65 million of the star’s albums over the year.

This figure put Bowie streets ahead of global megastar Adele, who sold one-third fewer albums at 1.1 million.

Drake, who sold 1.09 million, was in third place according to the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).

1.5 million physical and digital Bowie albums were bought, 510,000 tracks downloaded and 127 million songs were streamed.

In the BPI’s reckoning, 1,000 streams of a track or 10 downloads equal one album sale.

Bowie’s persona Ziggy Stardust, created when he released Space Oddity in 1969, was a bisexual alien rock star.

The androgynous figure became a gay icon.

Bowie fans are accustomed to the icon racking up posthumous achievements, after he was given the awards for best British male solo artist and album of the year at the BRIT Awards in February.

Earlier this year, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry revealed that Bowie was the second-most popular recording artist worldwide in the year of his death, behind Drake.

Boyd Hilton, Heat magazine’s entertainment editor, told the Guardian: “There is always a huge amount of interest when a legendary artist dies so the upturn in sales will partly be down to that.”

But, he said, it was more than possible that Bowie was a special case.

“Bowie suddenly got loads more airplay and the Blackstar album, videos and artwork were so extraordinary anyway that they captured the public’s imagination even more than a regular new Bowie album might,” he remarked.

Fans who flooded to buy the icon’s hits and 2016 album Blackstar pushed vinyl record sales to a 25-year-high, the Guardian has reported.

As well as Blackstar, sales of Bowie albums also included a notable increase for the Best of Bowie, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars.