I was shocked and upset to learn last week that David Bowie had died of cancer at 69. Bowie’s music meant so much to me, only second to the Beatles. I’ve seen him on Broadway and in live performances, and own most of his music. I’ve been bonding with the sadness profoundly felt worldwide.
The early incarnations of David Bowie didn’t touch me the way they touched others, but his transgender Ziggy Stardust persona hit a nerve with some who felt alone and different. Actress Jane Lynch had a nice take on his appeal when speaking on CBS This Morning: “I remember the first time I saw him. I was shocked, my little Midwestern self, who was this closeted gay person. And he was this man dressing up as a woman and was really working it and I went, ‘Ohhh!’ I though it was off-putting and he scared me, and then I came to love him.”
Bowie’s appearance, of course, evolved many times, moving from character to character and always keeping us interested. I remember being happy when he changed to a cool, suited, clean-cut look. Perhaps that was part of his genius and, in effect, his mastery of publicity and communication. Bowie knew how to get our attention and he always backed it up with his art: unique stage performances, diverse films, multiple collaborations, and his incredible music. Even as he was dying he created a new album and videos, released just the week before he passed. Word is he purposely timed it that way.
That’s why I loved him. He always pushed the envelope, ever-experimenting with sound and vision. He could be challenging, but more often he was a joy, constantly creating and trying new approaches to his work. I also admired his tremendous ability to separate the public David Bowie from the private David Jones (his real name); by all accounts he was a wonderful friend, a devoted husband and a terrific father.
While we’re sad David Bowie will create no more, we’re happy he shared his prodigious talents with the world for a half century. Your thoughts?