Saluting David Bowie On His Birthday

Sunday — January 8th — marks what would’ve been David Bowie‘s 76th birthday. Bowie died on January 10th, 2016 — just two days after his 69th birthday. His death followed a private 18-month battle with cancer, and according to reports from insiders in the Bowie camp, the music legend died from liver cancer, after suffering from a handful heart attacks in recent years. Bowie was survived by his wife of 23 years, supermodel Iman, his son, movie director Duncan Jones, and his daughter with Iman, Alexandria.

Out now is the critically acclaimed Brett Morgen-directed Bowie documentary, Moonage Daydream. Morgen, who’s best known for such films of The Kid Stays In The Picture, Cobain: Montage Of Heck, and Jane, was quoted by Rolling Stone as saying, “You know, there might be a few things in Moonage Daydream that the estate isn’t happy to have in there. But they gave me final cut, and never told me I had to include this song or that, or make any changes. Right from the start, it was: This isn’t David’s film. He’s not going to see it. This is David Bowie by Brett Morgen. Make it yours.”

Recently released is the new book, Bowie 75, which examines the rock legend’s life and career through 75 distinct images. The 208-page book is priced at $75. According to the announcement, “Author Martin Popoff guides your through all of Bowie’s 27 studio albums, various singles, working with artists like Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, Tina Turner, and Queen; collaborations with legendary guitarists, Mick Ronson, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Nile Rodgers and Earl Slick. Plus, film and television roles, live performances and more.”

Long-time fan, and Def Leppard frontman Joe Elliott told us David Bowie’s 1980 Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) album inspired most of the music that came out of Britain throughout the remainder of the decade: “When you take the Scary Monsters period, which was probably Bowie’s’ last big artistic statement, because with Let’s Dance, I think it just became a commercial — I wouldn’t say ‘sell out’ — but it was a commercial success he never achieved in the past. But it was more based on ‘normal’; all of a sudden, Bowie’s wearing a tie and a suit and bleachin’ his hair blonde and having it short. But Scary Monsters, with things like ‘Ashes To Ashes’ — you can see where Duran Duran got a lot of their stuff from, and even Spandau Ballet, who would come later on.”

In 1983, David Bowie shed light on how and why the character of “Ziggy Stardust” came to exist: “I think I was quite happy to buy into the idea of reinvention, up until the beginning of the ’80s, really. When I was a teenager, I had it in my mind that I would be a creator of musicals — I sincerely wanted to write musicals for the West End and for Broadway, whatever. I didn’t see much further than that — as a writer. And I really had the idea in my head that people would do my songs. And I was not a natural performer; I didn’t feel at ease onstage — ever. And I had created this one character — ‘Ziggy Stardust’ — that it seemed that I would be the one who played him, because nobody else was doing my songs and the chance of my getting a musical mounted were very slim, and so, I became ‘Ziggy Stardust’ for that period.” (40 OC: . . . for that period)

David Bowie explained that his late-1970’s work with producer Brian Eno forever shaped the way he thought about songs and music: “The whole idea of using a recording studio as an instrument, of not necessarily thinking that you have to be prepared totally before you go in; that accidents will happen and sometimes planned accidents work our really well. If there’s a bad note, you can layer that note several times with other instruments and suddenly that bad note sounds like an extraordinary piece of arrangement.”

Although David Bowie will always be best remembered for pushing the creative envelope, until the end he tried to bear witness and give a voice to the plight of the world he saw around him: “Some kind of statement or indictment of an uncaring society, or particularly the response to what’s happening in terms of the homeless, people who are totally uncared for in terms of education or being fed properly, or housed properly. There’s such a diversity of political stance, where the high powered authority seem to be far more concerned with their relations with Russia or the Middle East and the whole idea of what’s happening at home, on the streets with the indigenous people seems to be swept under the carpet.”

Only days before his death in 1980, John Lennon looked back fondly on his brief — but powerful — 1975 collaboration with David Bowie, which resulted in Bowie’s first U.S. chart-topper, “Fame” “Bowie was around and we were talkin’ and that — he’d say, ‘Come down,’ and I found myself doin’ that. So, he’s fiddlin’ round, he writes ’em in the studio. Y’know, he goes in with about four words and a few guys and stars layin’ down this stuff. And he has virtually nothing — he’s makin’ it up in the studio. So, I just contributed whatever I contributed, y’know? Like, backwards piano and (sings) ‘oooh,’ and a couple of things — repeat of ‘Fame.’ And then we needed a middle-eight, so we took some Stevie Wonder middle-eight and did it backwards (laughs), y’know — we made a record out of it, right? So, he got his first Number One — so I felt that was, like, a karmic thing, y’know, with me and Elton (John) I got my first Number One (with ‘Whatever Gets You Through The Night’) and I passed it on to Bowie and he got his first Number One — and I like that track, y’know?”

In 2003, Bowie spoke about mortality during a rare TV appearance on Britain’s Parkinson talk show: (David Bowie): “I had this poetic, romantic, kind of juvenile idea that I would be dead by 30. ‘Cause that’s — all artists think: ‘I’ll be dead by 30! Y’know, I’m going to get TB and die.’ (Laughs) But you don’t, y’know, you get past it and then suddenly, you’re 30 and you’re 40 and then you’re 50 and 57, and then all that. And it’s a new land, y’know?” (Parkinson): ‘Sure.” (Bowie): “I’m a pioneer — me and my kind are just sort of scraping the edge of what this think is about, being a rock and roller at the age of 57. But my revenge is all these bands that are below us, they’ve got to do this — so, they kind of say: ‘Yeah, they’re like, really old’ — but secretly they’re thinking, ‘I better watch how he does it, ’cause I’m gonna get there soon (laughter).'”

Categories: Pulse Music