David Bowie plays "Rebel Rebel" in his 1974 music video. Bowie died Jan. 10, 2016.

Courtesy of AVRO

Saying goodbye to David Bowie

Bowie’s artistic impact continues to resonate with local artists

By Grant Sharples | Jan. 18, 2016

Tags: Music


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David Bowie was one of the most influential, prolific and iconic musicians of the past four decades. He inspired a plethora of musicians, perhaps some of the most noteworthy ones being Nirvana, Marilyn Manson, Lady Gaga, Nine Inch Nails and Arcade Fire. His final album, “Blackstar”, was released Jan. 6, on his 69th birthday. Bowie died on the following Tuesday due to cancer.

Bowie thrived on experimentation and creativity in the sense that he explored a multitude of musical genres like disco, glam rock, new wave, prog rock, folk and, in his last creation, jazz and hip-hop. He had an experimental predisposition to try as many different things as he could in life, simply because of his strong desire to see what was out in the world. He reflected this inquisition and curiosity in his music, continually testing the boundaries of the music industry.

Many artists were too apprehensive to attempt what Bowie did. He adopted alter egos such as Ziggy Stardust in 1972 and the Thin White Duke in 1976. Bowie had theatrical, flamboyant tendencies, but his oddities separated him from his contemporaries and granted him a spotlight that lasted for decades.

In addition to his unprecedented musical theatricality, Bowie had a gift for merging fashion and music into a singular entity. His androgynous appearance and demeanor gave fans another reason to be inspired by Bowie.

His combination of fashion and music was perpetually evolving. Bowie was different because he did not leave his fans with a stagnant fashionable mark such as Robert Smith’s makeup or Michael Jackson’s sparkling glove. He was in a constant state of change, which rendered him unpredictable in the best way possible. Bowie’s perennial reinvention drew in a significant crowd, which was one of many features that defined him as an icon.

Bowie’s tremendous impact can also be felt around Columbia. Local David Bowie cover band, Piggy Stardust and the Spiders from Uranus, performed at The Bridge on Dec. 31. Vocalist Brian Craig discussed some of his thoughts on behalf of the band regarding Bowie’s premature death.

“We all love Bowie and we wanted to do the whole Ziggy Stardust album and do it right,” Craig says. “A week later, we get shocked and heartbroken by his death. I’m still in shock. Bowie has been on my turntable for the last two days.”

Another local artist, The Royal Furs, expressed their feelings toward Bowie’s demise. Guitarist Mike Marshall claims that Bowie was a huge influence on the band. Aspects such as “his life, his art, his persona and of course his music” had a noteworthy impact on all four of its members.

“When we heard the news, more than a few tears were shed,” Marshall says. “However, we continue to be inspired by the fact that this man was so purely dedicated to his art, that he was able to plan for his own death to be the final chapter in his life’s work. The last songs he recorded, the last video he made, all of it is packed with symbolism, meaning and beauty.”

Mere days prior to his death, Bowie released his final genre-defying album, “Blackstar,” symbolically as his parting gift, which eerily hinted at his imminent demise. He shared his gift of creativity and artistry with the world, and because of it, he earned himself immeasurable appreciation and recognition.

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