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A SPECIAL HERO OF THE DAY!
Name: David Bowie
Age: was 69
Occupation: music legend
Last Seen: in the great beyond
Awarded For: helping to change music for the better forever
Last week, David Bowie released the video for his song "Lazarus", which featured him acting like the Biblical character rising from the dead. The song's beginning lyrics were "look at me, I'm in Heaven".
Little did people know when it was released Thursday that it was his farewell to his fans.
It was a shock to me yesterday morning when I checked my phone and a blurb from my AP News app said that David Bowie had indeed passed away at the age of 69 from an 18-month battle with cancer. When he found out about his diagnosis, he kept it a closely-guarded secret.
Bowie even appeared in some pictures taken a month ago during the opening of his stage play "Lazarus", appearing to be in good spirits.
Born David Jones, he adopted the David Bowie persona in the late 60s to avoid confusion with Davy Jones of The Monkees. Of course, the Bowie part of the name came from frontiersman Jim Bowie, known for dying in the Battle of the Alamo 180 years ago. However, his name was pronounced "booey" as in "Baba Booey". His first album in 1967, self-titled wasn't a huge hit, but his next one two years later - also self-titled - produced his first major hit, "Space Oddity", which wasn't a hit here in America until three years later.
Throughout his career, Bowie was a pure chameleon, changing from 1960s baroque pop to 1970s glam rock as Ziggy Stardust. Then, as the Thin White Duke, he made himself funkier, especially with "Fame", one of two #1 hits for Bowie in America. The song's success even got him a spot on Soul Train, a rarity for any white artist. In the 80s, it was new wave with tunes such as "Fashion" and "Ashes to Ashes", a sequel to "Space Oddity". In 1983, he scored another #1 with "Let's Dance", which featured the guitar stylings of a young blues musician named Stevie Ray Vaughn.
Bowie kept reinventing himself. His 1997 album "Earthling" produced one of the finest examples of drum-and-bass electronica, "Little Wonder", and "I'm Afraid of Americans", whose production from Trent Reznor helped make that particular tune his highest-charting in the whole decade. Unlike many artists his age, Bowie never retired; he kept making album after album, reinventing himself on each one.
Yes, David had his embarrassments, like his and Mick Jagger's dorky rendition of "Dancing in the Streets". But he was legit til the end. Oh yes, he was an accomplished actor; his rendition of the Goblin King from 1985's "Labyrinth" helped make that film a cult classic.
I have a somewhat sizable record collection with a few albums from the Rolling Stones, Beatles, Black Sabbath (I have a well-worn copy of "Paranoid") and even Eagles' "Hotel California", all mostly hand-me-downs from my parents. Sadly, even though my mother's Facebook avatar is that of Bowie as the Goblin King (she loves "Labyrinth", BTW), the only Bowie she had was an old 45 of "1984" b/w "Queen Bitch".
It's hard to measure how much influence Bowie had on modern music since it's so surmountable. Another rock legend, Kurt Cobain and Nirvana covered "The Man Who Sold The World". German pop star Peter Schilling had a hit in 1983 with his own retelling of "Space Oddity" called "Major Tom". Bowie was even mentioned in synth-poppers Kraftwerk's 1977 classic "Trans-Europe Express". The amount of artists Bowie influenced over the years are too many to mention.
In all fairness, he didn't do too bad for somebody whose first hit single was a duet with a sped-up tape recorder.
In the end, we don't have David Bowie anymore, but we'll always have the music and the influence. See you soon, spaceman.