“Not a Prophet or a Stone Aged Man”: In Memory of David Bowie

Credit to Ron Frazier
David Bowie, singer, songwriter, actor and full time extra-terrestrial-posing-as-human sadly left us on the 10th of January, leaving the world a decidedly less colourful place. Whilst I’m sure you’ve all seen tributes from the likes of Kanye West all the way to Prime Minister David Cameron I think Bowie may be one person who can never be written about too much, and who deserves every note of over the top praise he receives. With that in mind, what follows is a memorial to the man who was born David Jones in South London and proceeded to change the landscape of both music and culture forever, written by a self-confessed and entirely biased fan of the man and his music.
The musical landscape of England in the last 50 or so years is a hell of a ride, from Rockers to Punks, Skinheads, New Romantics, Ravers, Indie and everything in between, but through it all Bowie managed to stay relevant (save a few years in the 90’s, but we won’t talk about that) and even managed to release a bizarrely cutting edge album on his 69th birthday, an age at which I’ll probably be worrying about whether or not BBC Four will have a documentary on steam trains that night. I won’t go into a full run through of his Number 1 hits in the UK because there probably isn’t enough space in this whole paper for that, let alone in this one piece, but asking people their favourite Bowie Song merits such a variation of answers that it’s amazing that we’re all talking about the same artist, and even more amazing that he was so consistently not just good, but great. Add into this Bowie’s varied film career (Labyrinth and The Man Who Fell to Earth spring to mind, not to mention a brilliant cameo in Zoolander) and you’re looking at somebody that could be called the most influential pop culture icon of the last 50 years without much competition. His sheer sense of style and persona throughout the half century he was active were varied to the extent that he gained the nickname “The Musical Chameleon” and the entire theme of a fancy dress party could be “come as David Bowie” and, aside from ten or so lightning bolt clad Aladdin Sanes you’d be hard pressed to find two people that look alike.

 

I guess what I’m trying to say in this article is that David Bowie’s death is a cataclysmic event in the landscape of popular culture, but rather than mourn the fact that he isn’t here anymore, we should celebrate, safe in the knowledge that at least he was here in the first place.  In the words of the man himself “I’m happy, hope you’re happy too”.
(Originally published in The Spark*)
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