Woke up to the news this morning that David Bowie had died from cancer, aged 69, just a few days on from his birthday last Friday when his latest album, ‘Blackstar’, was released.
Like so many of my generation, David Bowie’s emergence in the early ’70s would lead to an obsession with the man and his music. Throughout my early teenage years I played albums like ‘Hunky Dory’ (1971), ‘The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars’ (1972) and ‘Aladdin Sane’ (1973) until the grooves wore out.
It all began for me with his legendary Top Of The Pops appearance on July 6th 1972 when he performed ‘Starman’. It was a seminal moment in pop music. I wrote about my Bowie awakening when selecting ‘Ziggy Stardust’ for the ‘Living To Music’ listening sessions from a few years ago:
After buying a copy of ‘Starman’ I picked up his previous single, ‘Changes’, from Strothers, a local record shop in Liscard. I can remember being stood in one of the old style listening booths whilst the shop assistant played it for me. ‘Changes’ hadn’t even entered the lower region of the UK chart when it was issued, it had been a total flop (as was the album it was taken from, the now acknowledged classic ‘Hunky Dory’), but I was absolutely blown-away by it, as I was by his next single ‘John I’m Only Dancing’ (not to mention the one after that, ‘The Jean Genie’, a parting shot for ’72 that packed a real punch).
However, despite an incredible run of great singles, the real discovery was the albums. During the school holidays in 1973 I got a job, working in a local amusement arcade, and with my wages I bought a Bowie LP every week, until I had everything available – seven albums in all at the time, dating back to compilations of his early stuff in the ’60s. I was now a total Bowie freak, absorbed in his words and music. I tagged my name using ‘Aladdin Sane’ type lightning streaks for the G’s in Greg, and dyed my hair in Ziggy homage.
Bowie was one of only 3 artists, alongside The Beatles and Pink Floyd, who had 2 separate Living To Music selections – originally for ‘Ziggy Stardust’ and then for ‘Hunky Dory’. Here are the posts:
The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders From Mars – Living To Music:
Hunky Dory – Living To Music:
It’s a mark of the times when an artist of this magnitude passes, reminding us that we’re all older, and that the shimmer of the ’60s and ’70s, when Bowie entered our world, initially via a series of false-starts, but culminating in the ‘Ziggy’ big bang, grows ever distant.
David Bowie, or more precisely David Bowie during his Ziggy era, symbolised my youth, as he did for so many others – we’d never seen the like, and will never see the like again, for this was a truly unique artist who represented what seemed like a myriad of new possibilities and attitudes back then. He really did revolutionize popular culture, and certainly impacted on the lives of many individuals, myself very much included. It’ll be weird to live in a world where he’s no longer around.
David Bowie Wikipedia:
*(added on 12.02.16) throughout the next month I pieced together my thoughts and memories throughout the period 1972-1975. The resulting piece, and accompanying 3 hour podcast, can be found here: