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David Bowie was a towering presence in pop and rock music, but he only ever had two No. 1 hit records in America, neither of which were much of his doing (one featured John Lennon, the other Stevie Ray Vaughn).

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In a 2002 interview with Blender magazine, he tried to account for his historically weak chart performance in the U.S.: much of America, he said was not prepared to accept someone who openly identified as queer into the mainstream.

"You once said that saying you were bisexual was, 'the biggest mistake I ever made.' Do you still believe that?" he was asked.

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Here was his response:

Interesting. [Long pause] I don't think it was a mistake in Europe, but it was a lot tougher in America. I had no problem with people knowing I was bisexual. But I had no inclination to hold any banners or be a representative of any group of people. I knew what I wanted to be, which was a songwriter and a performer, and I felt that bisexuality became my headline over here for so long. America is a very puritanical place, and I think it stood in the way of so much I wanted to do.

Ironically, Bowie's new album Blackstar may be his third No. 1; it already currently tops the the U.S. iTunes chart according to Billboard.

Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.