There isn’t a great deal to be said about David Bowie that hasn’t been written or said elsewhere. Bowie was a hugely talented musician who was at once strange, wonderful and fearless in challenging accepted thinking, from his music and visual imagery through to his blurring of gender lines and willingness to be open about his sexuality, even if at times this was done more for impact than a desire to change the world.
David Bowie, born in London, has become a national symbol of British and English creativity, open-mindedness and ‘quirkiness’. I’m just old enough to remember when Space Oddity charted in the UK. Originally released in 1969 and re-released in 1975, the imagery of an astronaut losing contact with everything he loved and knew, floating off into space, formed both a fascinating and frightening image in my mind.
Since then I’ve swung between apathy and love for Bowie, most recently love through his 2013 album ‘The Next Day’, then the Bowie Exhibition held at London's V&A Museum in the same year (a strangely emotional event that I didn’t want to leave), and his most recent album ‘Blackstar’. All were bought on vinyl on the day of their release.
Bowie is truly unique as an artist. Along with The Beatles in the 1960’s, Bowie in the 1970’s helped Britain ‘rule the world’ of popular music throughout most of these two decades. Since then no artist or group has been so provocative, innovative nor widely popular. I can’t think of a single artist since then that has had the same impact, and todays music charts show absolutely no sign of changing that - what record company today would put help finance such a strange and wonderful thing.
As Kate Bush says about Bowie:
"He was intelligent, imaginative, brave, charismatic, cool, sexy and truly inspirational both visually and musically. He created such staggeringly brilliant work, yes, but so much of it and it was so good. There are great people who make great work but who else has left a mark like his? No one like him.
I’m struck by how the whole country has been flung into mourning and shock. Shock, because someone who had already transcended into immortality could actually die. He was ours. Wonderfully eccentric in a way that only an Englishman could be."