Remembering David Bowie, Legendary Musician and Quintessential Outsider

Featured Image by ABC Television via Wikimedia Commons

I’m not a prophet or a stone aged man, just a mortal with potential of a superman. I’m living on. –David Bowie (1947-2016)

Legendary Spaceman, David Bowie, has died after an eighteen-month battle with cancer. Bowie was born on January 8, 1947 into a working-class London suburb.  At the age of thirteen, Bowie’s father gifted him a saxophone, which would eventually propel the star toward a career in music. From the very beginning of his musical career, Bowie espoused mystery, ambiguity, and rebellion. The character actor of the music world, David Bowie played a number of visually-stunning and internationally adored roles throughout his career. From Ziggy Stardust to The Thin White Duke to The Goblin King for the 1985 film Labyrinth, Bowie’s unprecedented theatrical genius not only bolstered his fan base, but made him a friend to so many who saw him as a pillar of strangeness—a fearless, unbridled weirdo.

Having spent over four decades generating singles as one of the great musical innovators of our time, much of David Bowie’s most memorable hits were collaborative. Perhaps best known for joining alliances with John Lennon on 1975’s “Fame,” Brian Eno on three of his top albums in the 1970s, Queen on 1982’s “Under Pressure,” and Iggy Pop and Tina Turner on 1984’s “Tonight,” David Bowie continued to reinvent the wheel well into the 2000s and right up until his death by collaborating with contemporary and modern indie and rock artists like TV on the Radio, Arcade Fire, and industrial-mastermind Trent Reznor.

David Bowie was also a film and stage actor, having gained acclaim in such films as The Man Who Fell to Earth and Labyrinth. He made for an unsettling Pontius Pilate in Scorsese’s 1988 The Last Temptation of Christ and performed eloquently as the role of David Merrick in Bernard Pomerance’s The Elephant Man from late 1980 and to early 1981. Bowie’s last stage project was a written score for his musical, Lazarus, inspired by The Man Who Fell to Earth.

Purely idiosyncratic in every sense of the word, Bowie’s unapologetic strangeness offered alternative views to common stigma—he redefined queerness—positing the break of a sexual barrier not as a failure to be masculine but as something much greater than gender or masculinity. As Ziggy Stardust, Bowie implored us to imagine a life without harsh identifiers, and helped us to imagine a world without gender boundaries.

Bowie’s latest album, Blackstar, was released last week on his birthday. The record reflects the chameleon artist’s interest in jazz and modern hip-hop, and like his other works, transcends genre into one of his own. David Bowie’s long-time producer, Tony Visconti, wrote of his good friend’s passing: “His death was no different from his life—a work of art. He made Blackstar for us, his parting gift. I knew for a year this was the way it would be. I wasn’t, however, prepared for it. He was an extraordinary man, full of love and life. He will always be with us. For now, it is appropriate to cry.”

Let us go with Bowie one last time with Bowie’s chilling goodbye, “Lazarus.” What is your favorite Bowie memory? Let us know in the comments below! 

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