David Bowie (1947 - 2016)
Last September I was sitting in the cinema enjoying The Martian when to my delight Starman featured as part of the movie soundtrack. At the time it raised a wry smile and a moment of contemplation as I reflected on how appropriate the song was, the relevance of the lyrics and how David Bowie has been ever present throughout my youth and adult life. As an artist Bowie has continuously explored new avenues, tested himself and remained relevant while his contemporaries are just content to tour and revisit their greatest hits. Therefore I was both shocked and saddened to wake up this morning and learn of his death. It took a while to compute, after all, he only released two new albums last week.
David Bowie was more than just an outstanding musician and performance artists. He was cultural touchstone who showed us that we can define ourselves if we choose to, in whatever way we see fit and that it’s possible to rise above cultural perceptions of gender and sexuality. After five decades of critical and commercial success he still managed to maintain a private life and enjoyed a reputation of being dignified, professional and gracious. Those who had the opportunity to see him perform have often said that it was unique and unlike anything that they’d previously experienced. His work is far from ephemeral and has an enduring quality to it. As an actor Bowie was subtle and understated. It’s a shame he didn’t explore the medium further.
In an age when exposure is confused with fame and internet traffic appears to trump talent, there are precious few artists left like David Bowie. This is a man whose death has effectively cleared the UK news agenda and even the Prime Minister feels compelled to comment. A man who sold an estimated 140 million records worldwide and who’s body of work is considered to be of the highest calibre. It is still somewhat difficult to come to terms with the passing of such a cultural icon. His larger than life musical personas and his enduring significance made many of us think he was in some way immortal. Sadly this was not the case. Yet he leaves behind an incredible legacy for those that come after and will remain forever a cultural beacon.