Remembering Bowie, four years later


from the internet

David Bowie, who died in 2016, was one of the biggest influences in rock history.

Bowie Performing (The Norman Transcript)

Among the many and tragic celebrity deaths of 2016, Bowie’s felt as if it carried a bit more weight. David Bowie, one of music’s greatest innovators, was more than just one man. He was Ziggy Stardust, a surreal androgynous rockstar from outer-space sent to save the world; The Thin White Duke, a clean-cut cabaret singer; and Major Tom, a strung out, lonely astronaut. Among this hodgepodge of personas and identities, David Bowie carved out a strange piece of fame in music history, becoming a voice for the sexual and cultural revolutions of the sixties and seventies. Four years after his tragic death, then, it is still important to remember his life and how it transformed a generation.

Born near London in 1947, Bowie would quickly be known as a child to be a gifted musician and defiant student. His advanced skill with the recorder and his love for rock n’ roll music shocking his teachers and parents, Bowie was primed for a music career. It was no surprise, then, when Bowie released his first self-titled album at age twenty, although to lukewarm reviews.

Following his first record, Bowie continued to experiment, recording Space Oddity (1969), The Man Who Sold the World (1970), and Hunky Dory (1971). Here, Bowie began to rise to fame and immediately continued his constant stream of music with The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972). This landmark album first featured the singer’s now famed character and persona, Ziggy Stardust, and experimented with containing a consistent story across its eleven songs.

Bowie never slowed down, releasing twenty more studio albums over a 44-year period, finishing with Blackstar the year of his death. By then, the artist accumulated a host of famous and influential singles, such as “Space Oddity”, “Starman”, “Fame”, and “Heroes”. With this wildly successful and deep discography, it is hard to overstate how much David Bowie influenced not just music, but also fashion, art, and film. His musical talents inspired bands like The Killers and Nirvana, and his bold style spawned the formation of many aesthetically inclined acts like Lady Gaga and Marilyn Manson.

A more recent example of his influence, musician and friend of Bowie, James Murphy, apparently brought his band, LCD Soundsystem, out of its retirement after having a conversation with Bowie. Murphy asked the dying rock star his final months if he should, and Bowie responded, “If it makes you uncomfortable.” Thus, one of New York’s most treasured electronic rock bands was brought back from its five-year silence, spawning American Dream, an hour-long tribute to Bowie.

James Murphy remixing Bowie’s “Love is Lost” (The Rolling Stone)

The tragic news struck David Bowie in 2014, when he was diagnosed with liver cancer. Choosing to keep the news a secret to the public, he continued to work hard on Blackstar, which he intended to be his last gift to the world before he would die. Just two days after the release of the album, Bowie died on January 10, 2016, his ashes later scattered in Bali, Indonesia.

The news shocked the world, with fan-made memorials being created across the world hours after the announcement. Award winning rapper and producer Kanye West tweet of the death, “David Bowie was one of my most important inspirations, so fearless, so creative, he gave us magic for a lifetime, I pray for his friends and family.” A traveling museum, called David Bowie Is, also gave fans a final glimpse into the life and work of the artist after his passing.

The traveling museum, David Bowie Is. (BK Reader)

Now, four years later, the life and death of David Bowie continues to affect the world. New work is released periodically, mastered and edited by some of Bowie’s closest friends. Huge tours travel across the world, remembering and paying tribute to his music and influences. But above all, fans, old and new, keep listening and discovering Bowie’s music with the late artist reaching one billion streams on Spotify. Forever and always, David Bowie will remain in the hearts of the world; although now gone, through his work and artistry, Bowie will forever be a hero.