“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.”
– David Bowie (1947 – 2016)
No one wants to hear sad news the first thing in the morning…but that’s what happened yesterday, when I learned that David Bowie had died. Death always comes too soon for the people that touched your life – and David Bowie touched so many.
I worked with Bowie on and off, when I was with RCA (and later again with Virgin Records) – and watched as he rose to superstar status on the heels of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust. And even back then, with all the fame he’d acquired (and the brutal toll that that kind of celebrity can exact) he remained a kind and gentle man.
Like the Beatles, and the Stones, David Bowie redefined rock stardom and rock artistry profoundly. Ziggy Stardust was a musical and conceptual masterpiece, but it was only the beginning of a long evolution that bravely spanned decades.
Make no mistake, the alternative movement of the 80’s, might have happened without Bowie, but it would have looked and sounded entirely different. And his music went on to influence countless bands over the decades, even as he became an increasingly private individual.
As much a performance artist as he was a musician, Bowie’s music, although always complex, became increasingly dense and obtuse over the decades. After he suffered a heart attack on the road in 2004, he disappeared entirely from the stage. But like any true artist – he never stopped working – and amazingly a final album has just been released, that he may have actually orchestrated to coincide with his death.
In the late 70s, Bowie moved to Berlin and became a recluse to escape the many personas he’d created, and the drugs that had buffered his rise to the top. That was where a heroin-addicted Iggy Pop found him – and that was where Bowie dropped everything to nurse his friend back to health.
You see in spite of the icy image he sometimes adopted, the David Bowie I worked with, was a humble and caring soul – and a man of immense talent…
He will be greatly missed.