Legendary singer David Bowie has died, just two days after releasing his 27th album Blackstar.
Bowie’s social media accounts broke the news, saying “David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18-month battle with cancer”. His son, Duncan Jones, later confirmed the news. A spokesman for Bowie refused to specify which type of cancer the singer had died from, and it was previously unknown that he was suffering from such a serious illness.
Tributes came flooding in almost immediately from all over the world. The Rolling Stones, whose singer Mick Jagger had collaborated with Bowie for the 1985 hit Dancing In The Street, described their “dear friend” Bowie as an “extraordinary artist, and a true original.”
Madonna, who said that seeing Bowie in the first ever concert she went to was a life changing moment, also said via Twitter: “Talented. Unique. Genius. Game Changer. The Man who Fell to Earth. Your Spirit Lives on Forever!”
And it wasn’t just musicians who were paying their respects to the British musician. British Prime Minister David Cameron described Bowie’s death as a “huge loss” having grown up listening to his music, and The Vatican borrowed a phrase from Bowie’s first number one single, Space Oddity, saying “check ignition and may God’s love be with you”.
Bowie had not performed live since November 2006, and had not toured since 2004’s “A Reality Tour” but had released two albums, The Next Day and Blackstar, in the last three years – both of which went straight to number one in the UK charts.
Long time friend and producer Tony Visconti described Blackstar as a “parting gift” to the world from Bowie, and said of the man himself “his death was no different from his life – a work of art. He was an extraordinary man, full of love and life. He will always be with us.”
Having found success with the aforementioned Space Oddity, Bowie captured the hearts and minds of the nation and catapulted himself to superstardom with the persona of Ziggy Stardust. The character was intended to look like he had come from Mars, and appropriately it was the song Starman that really cemented his success.
Stardust’s flamboyancy and strangeness in his own time encouraged people all around the world to be themselves and be proud of who they are. In an interview with 6Music, Jarvis Cocker said of David Bowie’s influence: “He was like an umbrella for people who felt a bit different. Bowie was like a like a lighthouse that guided those people and made them feel it was alright to be different, to try things out and dye your hair and wear strange clothes. I think people feel it very personally because he was very important in how people grew up.”
David Bowie was one of the most innovative and creative musicians ever, a true visionary. He was successful across six decades, which alone is an incredible feat. But Bowie will not just be remembered for sales, he will be remembered as a multi-generational inspiration for millions. He will be missed massively.
by Andrew Henderson