This morning I suddenly noticed on my Twitter timeline that a lot of messages about David Bowie appeared. After a first impression that this might have something to do with the release of his new album Blackstar a few days ago, it soon turned out that the outburst of tweets had a devastating and sinister character: David Bowie passed away, a few days after his 69th birthday.
It was only this past weekend that intensively listened to Blackstar and started to recognize that Bowie delivered a new masterpiece. I even posted a tweet, after realizing what an amazing music journey I witnessed with David Bowie. I remember clearly when I heard the first song by David Bowie that impressed me as a 9-year old even so far to make my first efforts in music composition myself. That song was ‘Jean Genie’ with its remarkable riff and dark atmosphere. Maybe in that time I considered David Bowie to be among the likes of other glam rock acts in that period like Sweet and Gary Glitter. But where those artist soon faded into oblivion, David Bowi’s star was on the rise and accompanied me through adolescence with songs like ‘Fame’, ‘Golden Years’, ‘Station to Station’, ‘Sound and Vision’, ‘Heroes’, ‘Fashion’ and ‘Ashes to Ashes’ meanwhile triumphing or incorporating 70s music trends like punk, new wave and funk. Meanwhile I had a lot of catching up to do by intensively going through Bowie’s previous releases like the phantastic early song, ‘The Laughing Gnome’ or the phenomenal albums like ‘The Man Who Sold the World’ and ‘Ziggy Stardust’.
David Bowie’s break through to worldwide stardom undoubtedly took place in the 1980s. Successful collaborations with Queen, Tina Turner, Mick Jagger and most of all with Chic producer Nile Rodgers on ‘Let’s Dance’ made Bowie easily one of the biggest stars during that era. Yet the 1990s though saw a steady decline of his popularity that for me personally started with his Tin Machine band, that produced ruthless metal music. But that was David Bowie, a chameleon like character that was both reflected in his stage presence as well as his music endeavours, not shy of any risk taking.
Bowie mainly disappeared in 1990s and 2000s from my radar, although every now and then he would be there again, for example when he made ‘Space Boy’ with the Pet Shop Boys. His heart attack in 2004 seemed to crush any serious music ambitions and after that life changing event Bowie seemed to be only in the news with speculations about his fragile medical condition. Yet there was one cheerful moment in 2007 when Bowie made a surprising appearance in Ricky Gervais’ Extras series.
In March 2013 everything changed when there was suddenly an immense outburst of new creativity with a new album: ‘The Next Day’ that I reviewed on my blog. Bowie sounded fresh and reborn, although speculations at that time about him touring again never became a reality. ‘The Next Day’ was followed last week by ‘Blackstar’ another impressive album that with the news of today concerning his life threatening disease from the last one and half year, suddenly brings a whole new perspective to the album: here was an artist at work who wanted to make one last important statement and addition to his already impressive music legacy, in the same vein like Freddy Mercury produced ‘Innuendo’ in 1991.
Because of these recent releases that show such a vibrant and inventive artist it is very hard to come to grips with that Bowie’s music legacy is now fulfilled and ‘Blackstar’ is to be considered as his swan song. Although it is likely we probably will see future additional releases with outtakes and unreleased material.
I want to finish by pointing you to, “Space Oddity”, one of the most important popular songs of the 20th century and probably the song David Bowie will be remembered by for a long time to come.
= The Hague, January 11th 2016 =