David Bowie is dead. Even the words are difficult to write.
Born David Robert Jones on January 8, 1947, he died January 11, 2016, just 3 days after his 69th birthday. Of all the musicians who have died over the past few years, his hits me the hardest. Though a more avid fan of his earlier works, I have found a reason to keep him on my list of top musicians and performers from almost every album he released. His passing will leave a hole in the world of music. As a musician, writer, performer, singer, producer, and actor, his life touched many people and changed the shape of music many times.
When I heard first album in 1969, Space Oddity, I was hooked. His lyrics and voice touched my soul as both a musician and a music fan. When he followed that one with Hunky Dory, and then the outrageous The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spidermen From Mars, music was never the same. Her personae and appearance changed with each album, as he reinvented himself and his music.
As if being a performer was not enough, he also produced two other of my favorite groups, Mott the Hoople, and Iggy and the Stooges. In various bands over the years, I have played tunes from Bowie, Iggy, and Mott the Hoople.
As an actor, he appeared in Labyrinth, The Man Who Fell to Earth, Just a Gigolo, and The Prestige.
In 1974 I finally got the opportunity to see him live during his Diamond Dogs Tour to promote the 1973 album. I sat enthralled by his stage presence, sweet voice, and sax playing. There are bands I have seen multiple times – Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, Rush, ZZ Top, Bruce Springsteen – because they never got old. Bowie was on my much smaller list of groups I saw only once but wanted to see again – Queen, Yes, Bowie. I regret I’ll never have the opportunity to see him perform again.
His 1980’s albums were among my favorites – Young Americans and Let’s Dance. I found more reason to include his songs in my band’s repertoire.
In 1988 he stunned everyone by forming a new band, Tin Machine, intent on playing music without the hype. He succeeded beyond anyone’s expectations. I lost track of Bowie during the 90’s until the present, not because I no longer liked him, but because life simply got in the way. As a writer and a musician, I spent less time listening to music and more time writing novels and playing in various bands, always sure to include at least one Bowie song in the list.
David Bowie has left a legacy that will be difficult for anyone to match. I am 62. In my estimation there are few bands or individuals that can keep my interest, is spite of their critical acclaim. No matter what they might do, David Bowie was there firstest with the mostest.