This death hit me hard, he’s been one of my favourite artists since I began reading my rock and roll books…there was so much to learn about Bowie and he was so comfortable being as far from ‘normal’ as one could be. I admired that.
Some things to know about David Bowie from the BBC:
- Rock guitarist Peter Frampton was Bowie’s friend at school – his dad was head of the art department. He’s gone on to play guitar with Bowie many times during his career.
- One of his pupils was permanently dilated – after his friend George Underwood punched him in the eye while the pair were still at school. The fight was over a girl.
- He started playing the saxophone when he was 12 years old.
- Born David Jones, he changed his name to Bowie because he didn’t want to be compared / confused with Davy Jones from the Monkees
- Bowie’s first hit in the UK – 1969’s Space Oddity – was used by the BBC in its coverage of the moon landing.
David Bowie released this song in the same month and year of the Apollo 11 landing upon earth’s moon. But, the lyrics touch on a failed space trip that left Major Tom lost in space forever. The BBC requested that Space Oddity be played in the background of their coverage for the Apollo 11 landing on July 20 that same year. Bowie hesitated, worried that if the moon landing failed, it may effect his success.
- The fictional character of Major Tom has appeared in three Bowie hits – Space Oddity (1969), Ashes To Ashes (1980) and Hallo Spaceboy (1996).
- Bowie’s first US number one was his single Fame in 1975. It was co-written by John Lennon and features the former Beatle on backing vocals.
- Bowie was hit in the eye by a lollipop while on stage in Oslo, Norway in 2004.
- He voiced the character of Lord Royal Highness in US cartoon SpongeBob SquarePants in 2007.
- He declined the CBE in 2000 and a knighthood in 2003.
- Bowie co-produced some of the best tracks on Lou Reed’s legendary album Transformer.
- He plays just about every instrument on Diamond Dogs – including the famous guitar riff on Rebel Rebel.
- Arcade Fire and TV On The Radio are two of Bowie’s favourite bands of the last 10 years.
- His image appears on every single one of his album covers – except the UK release of The Buddha Of Suburbia and his final album, Blackstar.
- In September 1996, David Bowie broke new ground, yet again, with the internet-only release of his single Telling Lies. It would have taken more than 11 minutes to download over a dial-up internet connection. A year later, he launched his own internet service provider, Bowienet.
- Bowie turned 69 on 8 January 2016. He released Blackstar on the same day.
He could have been Gandalf:
The list of stars who almost starred in Peter Jackson’s Lord of The Rings trilogy is almost as long as the films themselves. Nicolas Cage auditioned to play Aragorn, while the part of Gandalf was offered to Sean Connery and Patrick Stewart. Amazingly, Bowie – star of 1986 film Labyrinth – was also on that list.
A cartoon featured in the New York Times in honour of Bowie’s Passing:
From The New Yorker:
From NME’s 50 Geeky Facts You Many Not Know About David Bowie in School of Rock today, these stories are all TRUE!
A track off his station to station album titles TCV 15 was inspired by a dream in which Iggy Pop saw his girlfriend eaten by a TV set
Bowie claims he had a ‘horrible’ incident with a cup of tea when he was 5, and refuses to drink it to this day.
The song ‘Under Pressure’ – a collaboration between Bowie and Queen – evolved from a collective jam session at Bowie’s studio in Montreux, Switzerland. He’d originally intended to sing backing vocals on a different Queen song, ‘Cool Cat’.
At the height of cocaine psychosis, Bowie was so addled and paranoid from drugs, he allegedly stored his own urine in the fridge in case a wizard stole it.
Some quotes in Tribute to Bowie:
Longtime friend and producer Tony Visconti:
“David Bowie was one of the band’s earliest supporters and champions,” the group said. “He not only created the world that made it possible for our band to exist, he welcomed us into it with grace and warmth. We will take to the grave the moments we shared; talking, playing music and collaborating as some of the most profound and memorable moments of our lives. A true artist even in his passing, the world is more bright and mysterious because of him, and we will continue to shout prayers into the atmosphere he created.”
David Bowie was an inspiration. As a songwriter, he had this intense vitality throughout his entire career. He made aging as a recording artist seem totally doable in a vital way.
I remember seeing the Ziggy Stardust album everywhere when I was a kid. People used to have all their vinyl in their living rooms, like part of the decor. You would see Let It Be and the faces of the Beatles everywhere, in a corner. At some point, I’d seen Ziggy enough that it piqued my interest, so I probably stole it from somebody.
Listening to that record was a bit like going to college, like the Beatles. The songwriting is incredible. I didn’t know anything about him, and it was a bit past when that album was a moment in pop culture, but I didn’t care. I was interested in the songs and loved every single song on the album.
When Scary Monsters came out, I saw him performing on a talk show, and I saw the “Ashes to Ashes” video where he dressed in some strange European clown costume. That had a huge impact on me. Because my first interpretation of him was the red-haired, androgynous Ziggy Stardust character, and seeing him like this made me think, “Oh, you can be whoever you want. You can live a hundred lives. You can create you and you can recreate you, and it’s viable.” He was the one that proved that that works.
I finally got to see him live on the Serious Moonlight Tour, around Let’s Dance, in 1983. I was a huge fan by then and I really didn’t want to go to that show, because it was at the Tacoma Dome, and I didn’t like big crowds. But I went anyway. It was somewhat uncomfortable for me, but the show and the sound and everything about the set and the songs were incredible.
The theatrics stood out to me. The Simms brothers were on that tour as backing vocalists, and I remember when they weren’t singing, they would stay onstage and sit in the corner at a table and play cards. Nobody ever left the stage. It was an atmosphere where it was theatrical, but relaxed. When you’re a kid from Seattle, you’ve never seen anything like that before, and it was in the context of a pop record, so he didn’t have to do that. He could have done anything he wanted. I saw the Police at the same dome, and they just came out and played Police songs and that was that. He didn’t leave it like that. I was super impressed.
He was like one of those actors that fully embodies the character that he’s creating. He was extremely transformative during different periods of his career. There was something about it that was very European and very not American. American rock bands would walk out like, “This is us and this is who we are and that’s what we do,” which I think is great, but Bowie was not like that.
Later in my life, I was part of a Vanity Fair music issue, where there were a lot of pretty amazing people there for a photo shoot. He was one of them. That was the first time I met him. I’d almost rather not meet someone I’m a fan of because I’m afraid that they’re gonna say or do something that’s going to then change how I feel when I listen to their music. But he was an incredible guy, super inclusive and warm. I’m always uncomfortable in most situations, and he made everybody comfortable. He was this bright light.
Our conversation was very much, “How are you doing?” and “Isn’t this fun? Isn’t it exciting to be in the same room with Stevie Wonder and Joni Mitchell at the same time?” It was just normal conversations. It’s like he saw I was uncomfortable and went out of his way to alleviate that discomfort and make me feel happy about it. It was a compassionate moment for a guy that didn’t necessarily have to be that way. Despite my worries, I walked out more excited to listen to his music.
I’ve played his song “Lady Stardust,” from Ziggy Stardust, live in my solo shows over the years because I always loved it on the album, and, for some reason, it reminds me of Andy Wood. I wanted to play it in tribute to him, but then I ended up writing a bunch of songs for Temple of the Dog and those took precedence. When Soundgarden split up in ’98, I came across that song, and I remember sitting in my car in the driveway listening to it, and there’s that lyric, “He was all right, the band was all together,” and it’s so hopeful. My band had just broken up. And it really gutted me. So that was when I started doing it. I haven’t played it more than a couple times live, but it’s like the one song of his that I’ve always been drawn to. I just really love it.
When I woke up yesterday, I was already thinking about David Bowie. I was checking out his new record a couple of days ago; I was reading about it, I’d listened to a few songs. Then I saw the news. Hearing he’d died was just a really sad thing. I was very happy with Blackstar. I was really happy with his last album, The Next Day, too. Both albums show an ongoing evolution. I need people like David Bowie, people who are always moving on and not in a frustrating or slovenly way. It encourages me because I want to be able to write music and create albums until I drop dead.
I’d heard about him being ill over the last couple of years, so it wasn’t a huge surprise, but just reading about his album a couple of days ago, I’d been thinking, “Oh, he’s better. He’s fine.” It was sad to feel like that’s not going to happen and we’re not gonna see him again.
You don’t know how important someone is to you as an artistic influence until suddenly they’re gone. I’ve certainly been having that experience. It’s kind of equal parts sad and celebratory to think, “Awesome. What an amazing career he had and what an amazing legacy he’s left for everybody.”
“He leaves behind a rich history of musical and cultural experimentation and invention that will rarely be seen again, if ever.”
“It’s hard to know exactly what to say when you hear of someone’s passing. I know that I have certainly lost one of my lifetime Rock and Roll theatrical comrades in David Bowie,” Cooper added in a statement. “We both started in theatrical Rock N Roll at the same time, and in some cases we challenged each other to go farther and push the envelope.”
“The man that fell to Earth has gone back to the planet that he came from.”