I found out around 2:30 a.m. on the night of Jan. 10 that David Bowie had passed, and I immediately contacted my roommate.
“We have to go to the record store tomorrow!” I pleaded, “David Bowie died!”
Even though I’m not much of a fan myself I recognize the influence he had on the music and entertainment industry. He was an individual whose creativity flowed not only through his music but through all other aspects of his life.
Bowie was a local boy turned icon whose small beginnings started out in Brixton, an immigrant South London neighborhood. He fell in love with Rock n’ Roll in his early childhood and learned to play the saxophone before leading bands in his late teens. Bowie was in and out of many unsuccessful groups and singles before landing his first hit “Space Oddity” right before the Apollo 11 put men on the moon in 1969.
His journey through music and art was influenced by Lindsey Kemp, an actor, dancer and mime. His style became more fine-tuned when folk and psychedelic music began gaining popularity in both the United Kingdom and the United States. Bowie gained attention with hits such as “Hunky Dory,” “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust,” “Spiders From Mars” and “Aladdin Sane.”
His outrageous on-stage alter egos preyed heavily on his personal life and Bowie suffered from a number of drug problems along with excessive cocaine use. Because of this downhill spiral, Bowie retired “Ziggy Stardust.” The end of his on-stage alter ego, however, was not the end of David Bowie.
He eventually moved to Switzerland and shared an apartment with Iggy Pop where they collaborated and created albums such as “The Idiot” and “Lust for Life.” At that time in the 1980s he also created what is considered the “Berlin Trilogy,” which consists of “Low,” “Heroes,” and “Lodger.”
He later found himself on Broadway preforming the title role of the “Elephant man” while reaching the peak of his career with his hit “Let’s Dance” in 1983.
Beginning in the 1990s he began touring with band Nine Inch Nails, who eventually collaborated with him on his album “Earthling.”
At the turn of the century, along with his rise and struggle with fame, Bowie was finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. At the Concert for New York City in 2001 after the September 11 attacks, he sang “Heroes” to families and first responders.
Following the release of his album “Reality” in 2003, he began experiencing heart problems and abruptly ended his tour. However, that did not keep Bowie away from the stage. He soon began accompanying the band Arcade Fire on TV as well as on some parts of their tour.
In 2006 he preformed for what would be the last time at the Keep a Child Alive Black Ball fund-raiser at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York.
He later released “The Next Day” with the glam rock nostalgia of his earlier titles. David Bowie’s final album backed by a jazz-based quartet was released following his 69th birthday and days before his death on Jan. 10, 2016.
He has since been remembered and memorialized across the world, including in his home town of Brixton where they have erected a mural of him as “Ziggy Stardust.” In addition, a local Record shop by the name of Wild Honey, where I purchased one of the remaining copies of “Lets Dance,” created their own tribute of David Bowie inspired art brought in by his mourning fans.
David Bowie has influenced the lives of many celebrities including those of Lady Gaga, Madonna and even Kanye West. He was considered to be the world’s first modern pop star.
But most importantly, he has been there for much of his and the current generation. Whether listening to his songs though a breakup or reliving those endless summer nights while basting “Heroes” though your car radio as you fly through your once infinite youth, David Bowie has become immortalized in the minds of all that have adored him.