While driving to work today I heard the news that David Bowie had died. He was 69, a young man. Well, maybe not young for a rock star, but too close to my age for me to dismiss it. He died of liver cancer, which may have been an indicator of his rock star lifestyle. Apparently, he had been battling the cancer for about eighteen months. Who knew? It’s very sobering that a man that lived his life so flamboyantly, died so quietly. There was clearly something there deeper than the makeup, glitter and good hair.
Everyone who was alive at the time of his release of a Space Oddity back in 1969 remembers the song word for word. Heck, probably everybody since then knows most of the words. My guess is he could have lived a comfortable life off of the royalties of that one song. David Bowie was not a one trick pony though. He went on to have hits in different styles in different decades. Bowie’s persona even took on the alter ego role of Ziggy Stardust for a while. Ziggy Stardust may have been a foreshadowing of Bowie’s desire to act, which he did very well, in my opinion.
During the Ziggy Stardust period I didn’t follow Bowie, and apparently neither did anyone else. When he released Diamond Dogs back in 1974, I was back on board again. The album featured two hit tunes, the title song, Diamond Dogs, and Rebel Rebel. A long way from “ground control to Major Toms”.
Diamond Dogs was one of the two albums I used to play to go to sleep to at night. The other was Tubular Bells. It was a tough patch for me, but not David Bowie. Bowie had moved to the U.S. and was reemerging as a rock star. There were a ton of hits, one of which provided a career for another musician. Bowie’s song Under Pressure provided the bass lick for Vanilla Ice’s Ice Ice Baby, recorded 8 years later. Vanilla Ice claims to have not ripped off the song, but, please. Give both songs a listen.
Bowie’s acting career is as important to me as his musical accomplishments. Some of his films include, The Man Who Fell To Earth, The Hunger and Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence. One of the tests I use to determine if an actor or actress has done a good job with a role is asking the question if I can picture another person in the role. If I can’t, then I determine that they have done a great job. Watch the three movies above and then ask yourself if you can picture anyone else in David Bowie’s role. I bet you can’t.
A little factoid, that I was just reminded of, was that David Bowie was actually born David Jones. Not wanting to be confused with Davey Jones of the Monkees, Bowie took his last name from the famous American adventurer. I guess he felt a kinship with America early on.
Bowie just release an album, and in tribute to his memory, I will buy a copy. Who knows, I may even use it to go to sleep to.