It’s never the deaths we think will affect us that actually do. It’s not every day you decide to write a piece on blogging and find yourself writing something about a legendary rock star instead (slight deviation then). An icon, a genius, a musical giant, a reinventor, an idol, a megastar, a legend. When all is said and done: the man who should have lived for-absolutely-ever.
I remember Jackson dying. Although I felt terribly sad because I was a huge fan and he was such a force, I wasn’t shocked; I think with him, you just knew his life would end too soon. In fact the only superstar’s death that really marked me was that of Elvis. (I found out he’d died whilst sweeping the floor of my parents’ shop as a kid, when I overheard a conversation between my mum and a customer. I was so upset she had not told me but in hindsight, if one of Musical M’s idols died after one too many burgers and a drugs-induced heart attack, I’d probably keep quiet too.) There are so many who have passed in recent years: Winehouse, Houston, Summers, Cash, Cocker, Kilmister (Lemmy) and more. Some of them no surprise, as they were tortured souls really. Others more of a shock, lost to illness after decades of greatness…but a shock that was assimilated quickly. But Bowie is a different case altogether.
Last night, Nirvana’s version of the Man Who Sold The World was on and I thought how ironic it was that Kurt Cobain died so young yet the man whose song he’d covered still lived on. And then…the morning of Jan 11th.
I thought he’d go on an on. Was sort of counting on him to outlive us all actually…He was that rare artist who dies and the whole world goes “You’re kidding…what are we supposed to do now?!”
I didn’t realise I felt that way til I saw my sister’s text saying he was dead. I was in the middle of a ridiculously busy day, up to my eyeballs in even more laundry than usual with a dozen other urgent jobs all vying for my attention, now the kids had finally gone back to school after the longest Christmas break ever. The message on my family’s Whatsapp group just floored me.
I literally stood there immobile before the cloud of sadness descended and the shock set in, laundry detergent bottle in hand, almost unable to comprehend how Bowie was dead. Not the actual physical how of cancer but the abstract how. I mean he was BOWIE! I thought he was invincible, immortal…he was just meant to live forever dammit.
Then…the cloud of sadness and shock. And in fact, some of that shock was over how shocked I felt.
Because, truth be told, I’ve not been wild about the music he turned out in recent years (I know #philistine); I was much keener on his earlier work (as you’ll see in a second). Plus it’s not like he’s been in my daily consciousness. But there is a hole now. I just thought, daft as it sounds, he’d always be there. As my friend Sabrina said:
His face and voice [were] so familiar in every decade of my life that he seemed like a constant.
I’ve actually been fighting back tears watching all the news footage. All the icons from my childhood…they’re slowly disappearing. And what an icon he was!
He was an icon whose unique bold fashion had a major influence on his 70’s glam rock peers, young punks and the 80’s New Romantics (I may be talking out of my bottom but I can’t see Le Bon, Hadley and the rest having the guts to don those ‘frilly blouses’ and bandanas if Bowie hadn’t rocked a frock ten years before). An icon, without whom, one wonders if the Lennoxes, Madonnas, Pinks, Gagas or even Kanye (according to his tweet) would exist.
He was the genius who enthralled me every time Sound and Vision came on the radio. I have a memory of a day trip down to Bognor I think it was; that classic on the radio and the smell of mum’s samosa’s taunting me from the picnic box beside me on the back seat. Aged seven I freakin’ loved that stonking intro; aged xx, I still do. I remember sitting on the beach eating those samosas, Sound and Vision on loop my head, while my parents’ Hindi film music blared out from a transister radio.
He was the musical genius who surely came out with one of the greatest songs ever (and my personal Bowie fave), Heroes. Amazingly, after today’s chores, I went power walking to clear my head and process the sadness (no that’s not the amazing bit). I hit shuffle on my iPod playlist and what came on first? Heroes! TUNE. One of my all time best memories is watching him (albeit on TV) perform it at Live Aid in1985 (while my husband saw it in the actual stadium).
He was the re-inventor who will forever be inextricably associated with the first time my father was severely ill. Every time I hear Ashes to Ashes, I’m transported back to the floor of my parents’ lounge, looking after my baby sisters while Top of the Pops was on. I will forever associate the video with Dad being in hospital.
He was the idol who blew my mind with the unbelievable sound that was Let’s Dance. Yep, don’t care, die hard Bowie fans laugh away…I’m sure you were horrified but this was one of the sounds of 1983. And the drums in the intro? Aaaarrrrgggh TOOOOO good.
He was the legend who had me transfixed in front of the TV shrieking with delight at the video of Dancing in the Street as it aired for the first time around the world at Live Aid. To this day, Jagger has me doubled up at his crazy dancing but Bowie…it was the way he oh so coolly had his hands in his pockets while he danced for his entrance scene. Love love.
He was a megastar who didn’t behave like a megastar (unlike some stars with half the fame) whom you kind of felt you knew though he actually lived a very private life.
He was, when all is said and done, the man who should have lived for-absolutely-ever. Because a world without Bowie…well, I don’t even know how to finish that sentence.
Goodbye Mr David R Jones.
Yours truly gutted.
[Featured image courtesy of Laura Hickman ]