David Bowie was my friend. Sadly not literally but certainly spiritually. When all the world hurt, and I thought no one cared, I could listen to him. He’d re-affirm my anger, sooth my fevered brow and remind me that things would work out. With his death, we haven’t just lost the biggest cultural icon since Elvis, we’ve lost our barometer for cool, our guide to all that was out there and crazy, and weird and good.
I literally dreamt of meeting him numerous times: at his house in Switzerland or at some mansion on the Intercoastal in SFLA. Sometimes he’d just buy the house next door! He was always funny, sharply dressed and blonde, and I was always afraid I’d come across a nerd-ish fan, but he’d just laugh and make me feel at ease. I felt he understood that I was cool too.
Listening to his wonderful back catalogue is like viewing an aural road map of my life, and my loves. With his demise, the music really has died. Who could ever possibly even dare to try to take his place? It’s the end of a wonderful era we’ll never see the likes of again.
As a 58 year old, it feels like not only has my life long hero died ( and of course, he was close friends with my other major hero, John Lennon ) but that the culture and the Rock’n’Roll dreams that shaped my life, have died too. Just like Lemmy, Bowie was a window into a most wonderful past: both had their roots in 1950’s Rock’n’Roll, and psychedelia via Syd Barret and Jimi Hendrix. They were human time tunnels to another more golden age.
I’m sure that I would never have dreamed of wearing make up and a woman’s fur coat in 1973, had it have not being for Bowie, with massive encouragement from Ms Peyton, of course. David Bowie encouraged us to use our imagination, to think further than the norm. Visionary, innovator, risk taker, who will lead the disaffected now?
Of course it had to happen, David was mortal, even tho’ most of us suspected he was extra terrestrial. But for me it’s still unbelievable he’s dead, it was so sudden I just can’t get my head around it. And months later my sadness has not abated
As my generation age, not only do we witness the mortality of all our cultural heroes, but we are reminded, most severely, of our own mortality too. And surely, for my generation, Bowie was the biggest, the greatest, the coolest. David Bowie was the Elvis of the Blank generation, my generation. All that was new and good and inspired and clever and funny and strange radiated from him, and to him. He inspired me on so many levels: he always led and never followed, and forced me to look at so many things in a different and perhaps more understanding way.
He is part of our Rock’n’Roll Holy trinity: Elvis – the father, Bowie – the son, and Lennon – the holy ghost
I’ve already written about the revelation that was me hearing Ziggy Stardust in the Summer of 1972. And seeing Bowie on TOTP doing Starman didn’t really evoke anything remotely “queer” for me when he put his arm around Ronno. What it said to me was “sure, you can join our gang, you’re weird too, I can embrace you”, and he did. A sign of love more than sexuality for me, tho wonderfully, that embrace helped many gay men confront their sexuality in a less repressed way.
And whilst I was affronted by the teeny bopper admiration on display, I think I can safely say I’ll remember http://terenceruffle.co.uk/20090805-david-bowie-at-the-hammersmith-odeon-july-2nd-1973 for the rest of my days.
I think my generation were so lucky, the last true Rock’n’Roll generation: some of us were able to see Elvis in his prime, some of us saw Ziggy Stardust, and some of us witnessed the Ramones first English gig, oddly enough almost 3 years to the day after the Hammersmith Ziggy gig.
I guess I’m part of a ( literally ) dying breed. Through my parents and my sisters as a small child I got to understand what Rock’n’Roll and Rockabilly was all about, with Elvis and Buddy Holly. And thereafter my sisters force fed me Ready Steady Go and the Beatles. I bought records as an eight year old, my first being “For your love” by the Yardbirds in 1965. I can still feel the excitement of those first few chords played on the Harpsichord, spellbinding, melancholic, and spine tingling.
The early 1970’s were a wonderful time to be a young teenager. Sure, Prog was pompous and grandiose, but the theatrics and volume were so exciting and exhilarating. I saw Genesis with Peter Gabriel at their helm a good few times, and they scared and delighted me in equal measure. And Emerson Lake and Palmer at the Oval in 1972 were such an amazing spectacle, some 44 years later I can still recall my body shaking with the volume and excitement.
And when 70’s Rock really hit it’s stride, with bands like Humble Pie, Wishbone Ash and Bad Company, Rock’n’Roll became loud, proud and cocksure, very similar to my 18 year old beautiful self!
But when Bowie came along, suddenly Rock’n’Roll’s reset button was pressed, and everything that came after him was influenced by him, just like he’d been influenced by Lou Reed, Syd Barrett and Little Richard. He was Rock’n’Roll’s ground zero; just as Elvis created modern culture and turned the world colour when it had previously been post WW2 black and white, David Bowie made the post modern world and turned up the hues and sung to the dudes, there would never be anyone cooler…..
My only hope is that DB has organised the release of his massive archive of unreleased material, so that I can continue to enjoy his music until my dying day, and that Bowie will be a creative force for many generations to come.
In the future, it won’t be so much as “what would Jesus do?”, it will be “what would Bowie do? “.
Love on ya Mr Jones!