“I had to be dreaming this” I said to myself very early this morning when I first heard the 1010 WINS news broadcast as it played excerpts from the song “Modern Love”. As these melodies played the newscaster said the words “Rock Icon David Bowie Has Passed Away at age 69”. I shook my head and rubbed my eyes to a more “awake” state and a few minutes later the news was stated once again. I was not sleeping. This was no dream. David Bowie had died. 2016 had delivered the music world a truly crushing blow with this occurrence and I was finding it hard to formulate thoughts much less words about it….Bowie was 69 years of age and had only just celebrated this birthday on Friday that just passed.
The world at large knew him as David Bowie but he was born David Robert Jones back in 1947 and over the course of his 69 years on this planet had delved not only into inspiring and forward thinking music but art, acting, producing and being adept at numerous instruments. Many of which he played on his body of work and what a body of work this was at the end of the day. According to the official tally of his works, Bowie released 27 studio albums, 9 live albums, 46 compilation albums and 5 extended plays (EPs). From these albums there came no less than 111 singles and five of them reached the number one position on the UK Charts. There were also three soundtrack albums, 13 video albums and total of 51 music videos. Talk about keeping busy. I’m proud to say that I’ve been listening to the music of David Bowie for most of my life and I’ve got my Mom to thank for that since she was a fan and would play this music for me when I was a very young age. I even played some of his tunes on the drums in the various bands I was in over the years and that was always fun. If I had to think about what my own very first Bowie album was that was purchased with my own money (since that is a very big deal in a music fans life) I think that it was his first hits retrospective LP “ChangesOneBowie”. I didn’t buy it when it came out in 1976 as I was only eleven then so it was likely closer to 1980-1982. I still have that and a number of his other LP’s. These few photos below make up my Bowie stuff that I’ve collected over the years. I didn’t photograph any of the 45’s without a cover image but back when these first came out I was always snagging a 45 of someone I enjoyed and especially so if their disc had a photo cover of some kind.
My actual LP’s looked like this and I shot this image early in the afternoon so please pardon the messy bed. It was the easiest space to do this photo on since the light helped me out better than the window sunlight at the time. Though they are not pictured here at all, I do also own the DVD for “Ziggy Stardust” the film and the 40th Anniversary LP of “The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars”. The live “Ziggy” LP was quite possibly my second Bowie album purchase. I was hooked either way on his sound and overall sonics but was very slow in building up the vinyl collection when it came to his works. What I loved about Bowie was his difference. He didn’t sound the same as each album came out. What you heard on “Hunky Dory” you would not hear on “Aladdin Sane” or “Heroes”. There was growth and there was experimentation. It was always unique and sometimes you wouldn’t get it at first but when you did it was a lightning bolt of realization. Bowie never followed trends, he started many of them.
When Rykodisc began releasing the Bowie catalog as a part of their “Sound and Vision” series in 1989 I actively hunted and purchased as many of the albums as I could since so many of the classics I loved had come from them and I was wearing out my cassette tapes. These were homemade cassette tapes that you made when you borrowed your friends albums back in the day. Funny how that seemed an acceptable practice but is no longer the case nor something that seems all that possible to do. I don’t know anyone who lends out their vinyl and don’t know more than a handful of people who still even have tape cassette decks. Isn’t it amazing how much has changed. As I looked over this photo I realized that I was actually missing both “Aladdin Sane” and “Low” from this Rykodisc set and my sense of completion has been jarred since I have no idea at all where to find these exact ones to have the full set. Now before you chide me about their not being in order, I totally realized that and it was based on my placing a few of them back on the shelf in the hall without the light on. I have since fixed this issue with the collection. Looking back over these classics I have to say that the “Ziggy” live album remains a favorite as well as the original album that this persona came from. “Heroes” I loved and “Young Americans” and of course “Let’s Dance” since the radio rock of the day played this album to death. Isn’t it strange how that never seemed to bother us if you were listening back then. The actual number of individual tracks that I loved by Bowie are impossible for me to count at this time. I also have the debut by his Tin Machine project but will admit that back during its heyday I did not like this band at all. Today’s discussion about Bowie’s passing found a friend telling me to give this album a chance with new ears and it will be on my agenda in the coming days. I never got to see Bowie perform live despite wanting to do so. To me the enjoyment was left to a few wonderful recorded concerts which while are not the same thing were fun just the same.
The loss of Bowie is numbing based on the quality of his output and just how much he influenced people on so many facets. This was a true musical genius as opposed to much of the drivel that we see time and time again being pitched as such. If you feel cheated by his passing or if you are feeling on the empty side based on this it makes perfect sense since Bowie was such an impacting force of creativity. As noted above, Bowie had just celebrated his 69th birthday and not only that but his brand new album “Blackstar” was released on the very same day. It was quite numbing to find him passing only days later but as the news progressed across the day, his producer Tony Visconti disclosed that all of this had been meticulously planned and timed by the now late icon. Bowie felt this was a proper farewell to his worldwide fans and kept his illness very close to home when in reality he was suffering from the dreaded disease for 18 months. Cancer really sucks and has taken far too many amazing people from us. I watched a lot of Bowie clips today as I worked out my thoughts and one found him on the Jools Holland show back in 2001-2 I guess and when Jools said that he was a big influence on British music, Bowie chuckled and said “Oh am I?” There were other clips that found me engrossed by his words and tales. He always struck me as an individual that you could listen to for hours and while these clips are now reflections of his memory they let us know and offer comfort that while Bowie has left us here on this plane, he shall never ever leave our musical minds and hearts. That is an unbelievable and incredible achievement. Thank you David Bowie for being David Bowie. For being a light aimed at musical experimentation and for never being one who worried about a trend and instead followed your path while encouraging others to bravely investigate new territory. Yours was a uniqueness and presence that was as boundless as the stars in the universe. Goodnight Starman. We’re glad you came to meet us and you really blew our minds. Rest in Peace Mr. Bowie.
As I could never possibly speak to the while massive influence and impact that Bowie had on music as a whole I’m suggesting that those with interest in the research time should hit his official Wikipedia entry as its loaded with the finer details and will surely be an education about this talented individual. I welcome your own Bowie reflections in the comments section and can say that I am listening to “ChangesBowie” now and being humbled again by this incredible legacy.
Official Wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Bowie
Official Website: http://www.davidbowie.com/