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David Bowie Dead at 69

I've never before mentioned the death of artists here, but David Bowie was one of the most personally influential artists; so please indulge me as I deeply mourn his passing. 69 seems so young these days, but he had a full life of music, starting in a band at just 15. He died of liver cancer just two days after his 69th birthday, and the release of his album Blackstar.

I Gazed a Gazely Stare

I was first introduced to David Bowie by Kurt Cobain's cover of The Man Who Sold The World, on Nirvana's MTV Unplugged album. At the end of the song Kurt noted that it was one of David's and I was instantly intrigued. The song, and Nirvana's cover, perfectly encapsulated a sense of haunted optimism. Having just come out of 80s pop, and into the sludge of Grunge, this contemplative mood struck me as more mature than most music. I was hooked and dove into his discography.

Do you like girls or boys? It's confusing these days.

David's openness about his bi-sexuality may seem quaint today, but it was inspiring in the 80s and 90s... before it was cool to be gay. Honestly in California it was starting to be cool in the late-90s, but being Bi was still troublesome for straights to cope with at that time. I was also open about my bi-sexuality in my teens. In David's example I found the courage to be myself, and the contemptuousness to not give a shit when other people had a problem with that.

Ashes to Ashes, Funk to Funky

In early-adulthood, when I was struggling with substance abuse, I once again found a friend who understood what I was going through in David's music. Ashes to Ashes perfectly conveyed the determination and hopelessness I felt in addiction. If you've never had to deal with addiction you've lived a blessed, but sheltered, life. You have to find your will. Addiction rewires your brain, and if you want to fix it you need to make your will strong enough to do so. Your determination must be the strongest thing in you, or the addiction will find some way of eroding your resolve. I slipped up a few times and felt the crushing hopelessness, but David Bowie's Ashes to Ashes became my anthem to make my will stronger than my apathy.

I'm a Blackstar

David's music has been wildly inspiring to other musicians for its "avant-garde, but good" ethos. It is quite hard to break the music mold, and still be listenable. This is something every experimental musician struggles with, but none have been as successful in their career as David. Contemporaries like Throbbing Gristle and Clock DVA might be far weirder, but neither exceeded a cult following. David's far-out music and manners were still palatable to a general audience, and that is way more important than most artists acknowledge. Culture should grow, and art should challenge us, but it won't be doing any of that if no one pays attention. Thank you, David, for helping us to turn and face the strange while we dance the blues.

Reader Comments 19

I'm glad you posted this Tim. Directly or indirectly, he's had a huge influence on pop music and its makers. Beyond the music, glam, etc, I always tended to think of Bowie as he was in The Man Who Fell to Earth.

January 11, 2016  | person_outline Toz Bourne

Saw this quote a little while ago and feel it sums it up perfectly:

"He is part of the smallest club in history: artists whose work didn't reflect the world, but rather the world reflected their art."

January 11, 2016  | person_outline Nonny Moose

Touching post Tim.
Times like this test my own fragile wounds. Lost my dear Uncle to ALS a few years ago. Lost within the past year or so my vocal coach I worked with for fifteen years and most heartbreaking of all I lost my Mother in July 2014 and my Dad April 2015. Just nine months apart both to inexcusable medical mishaps and oversights. All of these saints were the major influences in encouraging me in music and art.
Rest comfortably David Bowie

January 11, 2016  | person_outline Brian

well said.

January 11, 2016  | person_outline hogo

Thank you Tim, he's been part of my life too in so many ways, it was a very strange day today... I encourage you all to watch this interview which shows how a talented, clever and witty man he was:

RIP Mr Jones.

January 11, 2016  | person_outline badabyng

Well said Tim - the man has definitely made it up there with the greats. His story, his acting, his voice and his songs are wildly inspiring.

January 11, 2016  | person_outline Amergin

Beautiful Tim.
RIP Ziggy S.
It was that record (and then the man, and all the rches he gave) that made it possible to survive growing up strange in Elmhurst IL..

January 11, 2016  | person_outline Littlewoodg

Thanks for sharing how Bowie influenced you and I'm glad you've come through the better for it. I recall listening over and over again to Space Oddity. It was a musical mood story telling I hadn't experienced before.

January 11, 2016  | person_outline Paulinko

And this is why it is important to value music and film, so our heroes may live on. Thank you

January 12, 2016  | person_outline M0nk3y

Never been the biggest Bowie fan, but I tended to like some of the more out there stuff. Little wonder was about the only drum and bass song I got into. He could do things like that.

I was lucky enough to go to hansa studio in Berlin recently & the tour featured a lot about Bowie recording there. It did make me think about him a bit more and I even bought those albums, because I had a better understanding of how they were made & the stories & society that surrounded them.

With a catalogue so vast, I think there really is something for everyone.

January 12, 2016  | person_outline H4lfdevil

Glad I found this here Tim. I'm looking for ways to share feelings with people who miss him like I will now. He was one of a kind in my life. Inspiring in so many ways, not just his music.
I haven't really been listening to his last few albums, but the impact he had on my early years will stay with me forever. I was lucky enough to see him a few times and once in a small venue where he sang 20 feet in front of me. Best show I've ever been to.
Very thankful we were around at the same time. His influence will live on here.
I will be buying a vinyl copy of Blackstar. Wow, what a sad day it was.

January 12, 2016  | person_outline anonymouse

I'm honestly amazed at how sad I've been today too. I haven't felt this bad about any "celebrity" death since Kurt.

Listening to his music, watching videos, interviews, the disbelief keeps hitting me in waves. I don't even want to imagine what a bore my life would have been without him and everyone he has influenced. Boy do I feel like I owe him.

January 12, 2016  | person_outline anonymouse

Fan off and on since I was a teen in the 80's. I was kind of sad most of the morning. Something has been going on the last year with the secrecy lockdown on everyone working on anything related to the new album. Everyone new about that and thought it to be some kind of hype. I read Eno's message this morning about their last email (a week ago or something) and how HE was in shock and now realized Bowie was saying goodbye. That got me to thinking a little bit but I'm slow on the pickup sometimes. Then the Telegraph popped the article about how Bowie turned his death into a work of art. That hit me right in the face. He wasn't building hype, he was being thoughtful and for more than a year no doubt. That's powerful, and kind to say the least. I don't profess to know the inner workings of the man's mind but that made me so happy the rest of the day. It probably will every time I think about it from now on.

January 12, 2016  | person_outline KDub

Most artists are entertainers. Bowie was that and a lot more.

For many of us he changed how we saw the world, ourselves, life, art, fashion, sex, style, etc...

January 12, 2016  | person_outline Simon

I've been having a hell of a time putting words to my thoughts. It's a bleaker world without him, and it's been not all that brilliant already.

January 12, 2016  | person_outline Arrrghonaut

A lot of legends have bitten the dust recently, including the Motörhead man and a few others. We must be inspired and their energy must be recycled in us as part of our holy duty as Artists. Live well and make music! Rest in the Valhalla.

January 12, 2016  | person_outline Psysword

Thanks Tim. Best thing I've red about David's death so far. I'm also astonished about how sad I feel since yesterday.
(I felt accidentally in Scary Monsters about ten years ago and am still stuck on it.)

January 12, 2016  | person_outline Mo


Hadn't heard of this iSelect cd Bowie compiled of some of his well liked songs.
If you have these tracks on hand, I've found it a nice list to put together and listen to.

January 13, 2016  | person_outline anonymouse

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