As I write this, I’m still in shock over the untimely death of David Bowie. I’m not going to get too much into his history because you can look that up anywhere, and at press time, he is definitely trending all over. But what I will do is just touch on what he meant to me, especially since he was such a major influence on the bands I adore.
I’ve possibly been exposed to David Bowie as early as four years old because my parents used to watch The Dinah Shore show and Dick Cavett back in the 70’s. My parents were also very big fans of Bing Crosby, so I completely remember the Bowie and Crosby version of Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth, although it may have been a memory from repeated Christmas specials because I was only seven when they performed that together in 1977. But I definitely remember the first song I heard by David Bowie, which was Ashes To Ashes from his Scary Monsters album. I was a mere 11 or 12 years old at the time, but I distinctly recall seeing the video on MTV, thinking how odd it was to see nuns and clowns on a beach. I also remember the song Fashion because then MTV VJ Alan Hunter proudly declared time and again that he was in the video.
The album that made the most impact on me was the Let’s Dance album because that was when I was in my self discovery phase, which included the importance of music in my life. In 1983, local radio station 91X introduced me to the kind of music that would stay with me with bands like Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, Joy Division, New Order and of course, Depeche Mode. My favorite bands all site David Bowie and Bryan Ferry as true inspiration when they were youngsters looking for their identity, and I recall how dapper and suave David Bowie looked in videos like Modern Love and China Girl. The fashion influence was obvious on Spandau Ballet and Duran Duran, but I swear Simon Le Bon is vocally channeling Mr. Bowie in New Moon on Monday from the Seven and the Ragged Tiger album.
I think David Bowie’s death has impacted me so much because he’s always been present. I can’t remember a time when I was listening to music without him being artistically somewhere close by. He was an innovator, he was soulful, and he was creative. He gave people like myself, self-proclaimed “weirdos” or “outcasts”, license to be yourself. He was a fashion and musical genius.
I recall a discussion my husband and I had about an impeding Bowie tour about two years ago, vowing that we would see him here or Los Angeles, or even San Francisco or Las Vegas if we needed to travel, just to ensure we would see him in our lifetime. When that tour never materialized and there was no word, I even hinted that something else may be wrong, like some kind of health problem because there was suddenly radio silence about his tour or a new album. So when I heard about Blackstar being released, I was optimistic about seeing more from David Bowie in the near future, even a possible tour. I listened to the whole album on Spotify, telling my friends and family how much it harkened back to his earlier days. Instead of hearing about a new tour and more new music, my best friend alerted me to the news of his death, which was confirmed on all news channels within about 15 minutes of her text. Now, we sadly bid adieu to Ziggy Stardust, aka The Goblin King, aka The Thin White Duke, aka a beloved music legend.
(All pictured vinyl and CDs are from my personal music collection.)
(Edited to add my David Bowie playlist from Spotify)
My Favorite Bowie