The week began, with momentous news for many. Something almost unimaginable, had come to pass, the great creative chameleon, a man with a legacy of great songs, an actor, a song writer, a saxophonist, a painter, style icon,a man with a distinctive voice, a total one off Renaissance man, had passed away. There had been mutterings that he had been unwell, but this did not lessen the shock of his demise. Maybe some believed he would simply keep evolving and outlive us all. I recently saw the haunting ten minute “Blackstar” video on the Guardian website, while not preempting his death, I struck by its somberness, those mournful choral backing vocals, sending a shiver up my spine. Was he already starting to drift off to another dimension, it is full of hints, but true to Bowie also lots of anomalies. A man who knows this will be his last record, leaves us with a fitting epitaph. The measure of the man was that he carried on doing what he was brilliant at, despite the restraints of his ailing body.
I don’t know how I first really came across David Bowie, I remember listening to “The man who sold the World” nonstop when I was quite young. I remember having left school, living in London for the first time, having an almighty crush on a girl called Barbara, who was half Danish, half Italian, very exotic at the time for me, she was also sophisticated and had a big thing for David Bowie. Sadly for me she also had a boyfriend called Chris, who shared her love for Bowie. I was suddenly flung full force into the word of David Bowie. I remember I went to see “The Man who fell to Earth” in a small independent cinema in Chelsea.
I was in love with another girl, when I was at Art College, at the time “Scary Monsters (super Creeps)” came out. Again for me love was not to be, but I played this album to death. By the time I had got to my second Art School, I had a big collection of Bowie albums. Unfortunately an old friend from my London days came to stay for a weekend with his drug addict wife and when they left all my Bowie albums left with them…I used to have the live album, with yellow vinyl. These were the days when the New Romantics were in popularity, they owed a lot to David Bowie. I was henna-ing my hair. I suppose at different times I have wanted to be David Bowie, as have many people.
When I moved to Brixton, I lived two doors from the house where he grew up.
David Bowie has always been around in my mind. Somebody to aspire to. His passing will leave a gaping hole. Will there ever be anyone like him again?
Ok he went a bit off track at times, his antics sometimes cringe worthy. For example he by repute had an unhealthy fascination with Hitler’s Third Reich, musing publicly that Britain could benefit from a fascist leader, and when he visited London he was pictured, to his shame, at Victoria station giving what looked very much like a Nazi salute. Then there was that Christmas duet, an unlikely collaboration with Bing Crosby, In 1992, Bowie performed at a concert honoring the late Freddie Mercury. In the middle of the set, he gave a solemn speech about his friend and recited the Lord’s Prayer. Occasionally he slipped off the pedestal of being this ultra-cool icon.
When you watch interviews with him, you get the sense he enjoyed playing with the interviewer. He was a man hiding behind many masks, a man also living in fear of going insane, there was schizophrenia running through his family. He used his creativity to hold this in check. He never be forgotten and he will be missed by many, so many people identified with him. A legend and a genius.
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