I’ve been truly shaken to learn of David Bowie’s untimely death. I had to sit down when I saw the headline. No one ever expects the death of one of their childhood heroes. Throughout the morning as I put together these tributes, I listened to the full tracks of Black Star, while I worked. Any man, quietly dying of cancer, who worked on perfecting his latest studio release up until the very last days of his own life to present a final work of musical art for the world, is a man we can all love and admire for his courage, his undying talent, his dignity, his refusal to elicit pity, his dedication to his music, and his determination to set his own pain aside in order to give the world one last gift of music and personal creativity.
It’s personal for me. I have loved this man and his music and art for decades, literally, since I was a very young teen in the 1970s, struggling with my own sexual identity. Trying to find my own way in a very messed up family, in an oppressive mostly fundamentalist small town in the south, I papered the walls of my teenage bedroom with Bowie photos and blasted his music through the house at all hours, much to the despair of my parents, who thought he was the most bizarre assemblage of a human being they had ever seen. All the more reason for me to turn up the volume, I thought. David Bowie could well be credited for being one of the reasons I did not commit suicide as a gay teen. Seriously. Thank you David, for letting me know it was ‘ok’ for me to just be ME in 1972. Gay people were still being beat up and dragged behind trucks in parts of the deep south, and it wasn’t that much better in central North Carolina, where being gay meant living a double life, having “fake boyfriends” in high school to survive and sneaking into gay bars with a fake ID at age 17 in the hopes you might find others who were as different as you were, who were also finding a way to cope.
It turned out eventually, much to everyone’s surprise, that David Bowie was NOT gay, although to look at him in the early seventies that might have been considered arguable. He was one of the first popular musicians other than 1960s rocker ‘Little Richard’ to publicly flaunt his feminine side, so androgynous in some early photos that any decent drag queen might have been jealous. He was rumored to have had a wild sexual affair with Mick Jagger in the early seventies, and sexual androgyny was a frequent theme in his early songs. David Bowie finally arrived at the altar, was twice married, and has surviving adult two children: Duncan Jones and Alexandria Jones.
“Planet Earth is a lot bluer today without David Bowie, the greatest rock star who ever fell to this or any other world. He was the hottest tramp, the slinkiest vagabond, the prettiest star who ever shouted “You’re not alone!” to an arena full of the world’s loneliest kids. He was the most human and most alien of rock artists, turning to face the strange, speaking to the freak in everyone. He stared into your twitchy teenage eyes to assure you that you’ve torn your dress and your face is a mess, yet that’s precisely why you’re a juvenile success.” – Rolling Stone Magazine 1.11.2016
It’s quite clear after listening to Black Star, that David well knew his days were numbered, yet he kept working, right up until the very end. It was only two nights ago that late night host Jimmy Fallon announced Bowie’s latest album release on his show, displaying the stark enigmatic cover art, which was only a large black star on a white field, the only Bowie album not to display a photo of him.
If you are unfamiliar with Bowie, wading through tribute posts and articles, I’d like to recommend that you read one particular article about him from start to finish, as it says the most about who he really was and how his art was a real embodiment of emotionally distilled moments from his life, which had a huge impact on others, even upon history itself:
David Bowie [ Born David Robert Jones ] 1947-2016
Tags: life and times of David Bowie, the passing of David Bowie, David Bowie 1947-2016, selected albums of David Bowie, the music of David Bowie, pop music icon David Bowie