I have just read that David Bowie has passed away, aged 69; on his birthday I understand. I find myself very upset by the news too. He had apparently been battling cancer for 18 months.
I have been a fan, of sorts, since catching him doing ‘Scary Monsters’ on Top of the Pops when I was about 8, he has just always been there. As a dumb 15 year-old metal head I remember asking my mum if he was actually any good, in reply she handed me a cassette with Ziggy Stardust on one side and Aladdin Sane on the other; has any musical question ever been answered more emphatically? they became and are still, amongst my favourite ever albums.
Later I fell for the more grown up charms of Low through to Scary Monsters and parted company with him after Let’s Dance. Well, almost totally, the film Labyrinth is what flashed into my mind as soon as I read the news. I can remember a rather drunken conversation with some friends around closing time where the impressive size of Mr Bowie’s, umm, ‘packet’ was debated at some length – some Spinal Tap style ‘cucumbering’ was suspected, but hey if you’d asked me to appear in a film dressed in tights I’d go the same route.
As well as his own music, I think David Bowie always had a great eye/ear for collaborators and you can’t argue with the likes of Robert Fripp, Iggy Pop and Brian Eno. You also can’t argue with the way in which all these chaps really do appear to have brought out the best in each other too. Chuck Lou Reed into the mix too and you have much that is holy and good to me, stemming from, featuring and/or facilitated by one man. Bowie also had particularly great taste in guitarists, Mr Fripp, Carlos Alomar and Earl Slick all coming in joint second to Mick Ronson.
Personally I always picture Bowie with the Spiders From Mars, lots of stage make-up, tin foil outfits and thrusting. It wasn’t his most innovative, sensitive and intelligent work, by a long stretch but definitely his most endearing and rocky, I also rather like the fact that there was always a slight element of the ridiculous about it too, a touch of the pantomime and a hint of amateur dramatics around the edges. Give me that over icy cool, most days.
The planet is, without a doubt, a touch poorer than it was yesterday.