Bye-Bye Spaceboy: legendary musician David Bowie dead at 69

By Adrian Herrera//Staff Writer

The man who fell to earth has returned to the stars.

On Jan. 10 David Bowie – British singer, songwriter, actor, fashionista, and all-around personification of the word “art” passed away after an 18 month battle with liver cancer, leaving a vacuum in the world of music that could never possibly be filled.

Over the course of five decades and 20 plus albums Bowie helped to pioneer, reinvent or epitomize virtually every style of popular music from rock to soul to electronica, ceaselessly reinventing himself and his modes of expression to adapt to changing times, technology and trends while somehow managing not to lose his essential qualities as an artist.

No matter what kind of music you like, Bowie has something for you, from the glam-rock of “Ziggy Stardust,” to the crooning soul of “Young Americans,” to the avant-garde instrumentalism of his Berlin-era albums like “Heroes”, to the drum & bass fueled anthems onEarthling,” there is no sound or style that was the same after Bowie laid his long white fingers on it.

Even hip-hop owes something to the man (besides his collaboration with Freddie Mercury, “Under Pressure” providing the driving sample on one of the best beats for one of the worst rap songs, Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby.”)  

Before swag was swag, Bowie had it. Just look at his outfits and stage presence (that sneer, though!) Before Two Live Crew, Bowie was scaring the world with his overcharged sexuality. He paved the way for artists like Kanye West to be able to constantly reinvent themselves and change their image with each release.

He was also the first white person to perform on Soul Train, making it a bit easier for the likes of the Beastie Boys and Eminem to borrow from a traditionally black style of music and actually be respected as peers, bridging a cultural gap that had seemed to have only grown with time. Heavy Metal too is indebted to Bowie. ‘The Man who Sold the World’ has some of the earliest, truly “hard-rock,” guitar riffs recorded and Bowie had shaved off his eyebrows and painted his face white long before Marilyn Manson crawled onto the scene.

But Bowie’s legacy is something more profound than the sounds he left behind – he made it okay to be weird, to take on a persona then discard it, to pull from all places, to sing about high-brow themes like literature and space travel while remaining pop-savvy, to walk in between definitions and preconceptions – he made it okay for a man like Prince to dress like a woman and a woman like Annie Lennox to dress like a man.

He was master of his own fate until the end, using his diagnosis as fuel to reinvent himself one last time on his final release, “Blackstar” which came out on Jan. 8, on his 69th birthday and only two days before his death.

While we mourn the loss of an icon, let us celebrate the fact that in true Bowie fashion, he exhibited total creative control to the end and left us with one final statement and that this swan song is one of his mostly profoundly unique releases and a perfect final chord in the symphony of his life.

Bowie passed in peace. His work completed, surrounded by his family, the space oddity returned to the ether, ashes to ashes. He is survived by his wife, Iman, and his children, Duncan and Alexandria.

This week, we mourn for the world’s loss but as the planet reverberates with a million stereos playing “life on Mars” let all us earthlings turn and face the strange changes together – for The starman waiting the sky.




Photo courtesy of creative commons

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