It’s hard to articulate the profound impact that David Bowie had on millions upon millions of people across the world. His timeless music, from stomping glam-rocker ‘Jean Genie’, to the plastic-soul of ‘Young Americans’ and the perennially covered but never bettered masterpiece ‘Heroes’, sound tracked the lives of people from all walks of life, and remains destined to be passed down unto generations for years to come.
As an artist and a showman, Bowie was a man who never stood still. Forever a chameleon, The Thin White Duke was constantly finding ways to not only reinvent his music, but to also transform himself and his look. From fresh-faced young Mod Davy Jones, to glam icons Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane, the personas he took on became almost as famous as his wonderfully prodigious talents.
In musical terms, he was forever pushing boundaries as a visionary and trail blazer to be ranked alongside the finest musical innovators of all time. Despite his retirement from performing – pre-empted by ill health – in the latter stages of his career, his 2013 return with critically-acclaimed The Next Day reinforced his reputation as a prolific music-maker. The release of Black Star, on his 69th birthday and three days before his death, was his 25th studio release, exemplifying both his need and ability to experiment with different musical forms.
What’s more, aside from being a musical tour de force, he was, it should be remembered a genuinely good person, one whose courage to be himself broke down barriers in fashion and culture (not to mention in a literal sense, too, with his 1987 performance of ‘Heroes’ at the Concert for Berlin considered to be a catalyst for the Berlin Wall coming down) as well as music. Warm, self-effacing and generous with his time, Bowie was not your average superstar – and, let’s face it, there hasn’t been too many stars as big as him. The flamboyant personas he inhabited throughout his music career were almost the antithesis of the softly-spoken and articulate individual who, in his twilight years, shied away from the public eye to see spend time with his family in his adopted home of Manhattan.
A man of many talents, Bowie even managed to cultivate a decent career as an actor – appearing in many films, plays and TV shows including movies like The Man Who Fell to Earth and Absolute Beginners – exemplifying the abundance of creative talents at his disposal that were as far-reaching as some of his fashion choices.
Achieving so much in his life, it isn’t hard to see why his adoring fans revered Bowie as a God-like being who, with his supreme talents and other-worldly charisma, came into their lives and changed them for the better. But to the forever-modest man himself, he was but a mere mortal – a boy from Brixton who just loved entertaining and making music. It’s through his music that his legacy lives on, not least through the parting gift of Black Star and the arresting lyrics of ‘Lazarus’, where Bowie croons, “Look at me, I’m in heaven”, actually offer some sort of solace.