I pulled the covers around me tighter and turned on the television. “CBS This Morning” was playing David Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust” as their lead in music. I thought “that’s weird, his birthday was on Friday, maybe they were just playing it since he had a new album out Friday too. Then Charlie Rose said the world is mourning the death of David Bowie. I yelled out, “WHAT! NO!!!!” and jumped out of bed. I stood inches from the television and hung on every word Rose was saying, that Bowie, 69, had succumbed to cancer.
Still reeling from the death of Lemmy Kilmister and watching his memorial service on Saturday, I felt gutted. I thought, “Oh shit death comes in three’s” or so they say. Who will be the third? Is this going to be like Hendrix, Joplin, and Morrison, who all died within six months of each other?
After the news, I flipped through the television looking for any more news about Bowie, but there was nothing. Maybe it wasn’t real? Maybe I was still dreaming? But no, I wasn’t. I gathered my thoughts, stumbled to the kitchen and made some breakfast, took my medicine, and then hit the showers. I stood there, hot water beating down on me, warming my cold bones, steam rising, and I repeatedly thought in my head “David Bowie’s dead. Lemmy’s dead.” All my rock heroes are getting old and dying. Who will carry the torch for rock and roll? I got worried.
With my thoughts racing, I had to write everything down that I could remember, which brings me to this here missive.
I was late to the game when it came to David Bowie. I would hear his songs as a kid, while running around the local swimming pool in my little red and blue Speed-o, on the local FM in station and I liked the music, but never thought much of it.
When MTV rolled around I was too immersed in hair metal to really “get” Bowie and the genius of his music and the boundaries he pushed, if not destroyed with his music and image. Then I saw the “Under Pressure” video, the duet with Freddie Mercury from Queen, I fell in love with that song and video with its rummaging of people, exploding car engine, and black and white footage.
Then Bowie and Mick Jagger had the video for the Martha and the Vandella’s cover “Dancing in the Streets” and the video was hideous, but so damn good with the two legends. Then I saw “China Girl” and so on and so on.
Bowie quickly became one of my favorites. And in my way, I had to search his back catalog, like I do with every musician I discover and love. I picked up some cassettes, then CDs and heard “Space Oddity,” “Changes,” “Ziggy Stardust,” “Suffragette City,” and, of course, “Heroes,” which remains my favorite Bowie song. I thought to myself these are the songs they played on the radio when I was a little kid at the swimming pool. Turns out I did know who David Bowie was, or at least his music.
As I grew older, I admired Bowie, not only for his music, but his adventurous spirit. He took risks, not only in the past, but in the present. He always kept his fans on their toes. You didn’t know what a new album would bring. Would it be rock, pop, jazzy, electro, psychedelic, or…who knew what he up his sleeve. Not everything Bowie did was gold, but you have to admire his adventurous spirit. You have to respect his legacy.
I had no set agenda for writing this piece, I just needed to write upon hearing the death of one of music’s true innovators. It is free flowing, maybe that’s how Bowie was when he went into the studio to make a new album, I don’t know. All I know is the world is a bit smaller, a bit darker, and the music industry has a giant hole in the middle of it where Bowie was and no one will ever be able to fill that.
Much love and respect to you Mr. Bowie
Rest in Peace.