I was reading Facebook in the bath, on my phone (yes I know), in the wee hours of January 11th.
January 10 2016 – David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18 month battle with cancer. While many of you will share in this loss, we ask that you respect the family’s privacy during their time of grief. —from David Bowie’s official Facebook page.
Just a few days earlier, David Bowie turned 69 and on the same day his new album Blackstar had dropped. My feed was full of praise from friends who had the album in hand on the day of release.
Several people were commenting that news of Bowie’s death was a terrible hoax. His page had been hacked. No reputable news source had confirmed his death. Some page even stated that it was confirmed a hoax.
It didn’t seem like it could be real, but about 30 minutes later, confirmation from the BBC, New York Times, etc. was online.
Previously, only two celebrity deaths had really affected me in any way: MCA from the Beastie Boys and somewhat coincidently (David Bowie changed his name to avoid confusion with), Davy Jones of The Monkees. I remember, on the some anniversary of MCA’s death, saying something along the lines of “MCA makes me very sad, but when David Bowie dies I will cry big, fat tears.” I didn’t realize those tears would come so soon.
I don’t know exactly when I discovered David Bowie. Certainly I was a fan of Let’s Dance, but I know he was in my consciousness previous to that. I remember Duran Duran being guest VJs on MTV and playing the video for Ashes to Ashes. Duran Duran also covered Fame as a B-Side. While it was the right era, I somehow missed Labyrinth. I only saw that film last year! It was Changesbowie that really made me dive in. And Ziggy Stardust immediately after that. I remember how excited I was to see the Sound & Vision tour, especially because at the time Bowie was claiming he would never play all his old songs live ever again. While I don’t remember the show that well, I was far back in the pavilion at a large outdoor venue, I remember being transfixed and loving every second of it. I still have the shirt. I need to start wearing it again.
The music of David Bowie has always stayed with me. Some years I didn’t listen to him so much. Other years I would discover or rediscover one of his albums. When I finally got a record player again, I started acquiring Bowie albums on vinyl and hearing them anew. For the past few years I have probably listened to at least one Bowie song almost everyday and if I haven’t actually listened to him, the odds that his songs will just pop into my head are super strong.
David Bowie has been a huge influence on me visually. His powers as a performer, image maker and innovator make up as much of his iconography as his music. I’ve consciously referenced him in my Rococopunk and Wizardpunk. I’ve also considered doing some sort of David Bowie cosplay, recreating one of his iconic outfits.
It’s difficult for me to quantify how much David Bowie means to me or even what exactly he means. He just is and always will be. Even though it is the David Bowie of the fairly distant past that I most resonant with, the knowledge that he was still on the planet with us gave me comforting and happy making feelings.
After crying myself to sleep in the wee hours, I woke up in terrible pain. It turned out that I was having a particularly brutal kidney stone attack. Consequently, I spent the majority of the day in the emergency room vacillating between suffering tremendous pain and the heady, soothing yet unpleasant opioid effects of morphine and dilauid. In my haze my thoughts turned to David Bowie. He had, most likely, been in a similar state only a few day previous, knowing that it was his end, versus, what for me, was an episode that would pass. I hope he wasn’t looking up at a hospital ceiling like I was. I was waiting until my pain was soothed enough that I could go with my husband to my home, my bed and my dog. I don’t know what David Bowie would have been waiting for. I hope when it arrived it was what he hoped for and that he found it, painlessly and peacefully.
David Bowie, the man who fell to earth. A wizardpunk if there ever was one. 1947-2016.