A message appeared yesterday on the Facebook page of David Bowie stating: ‘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.’
I’ve only just discovered this sad news and am pretty much lost for words.
Early in 2013, in an e-fanzine called Total Blam Blam, I reviewed his The Next Day album very favourably and compared him with Picasso, writing: ‘I wouldn’t hesitate to compare Bowie with the most important artists of the twentieth century.’
Don’t expect me to change my mind of that one any time soon. David Bowie was a massive creative force. An icon. Unique.
From the same issue of the e-fanzine, here are my brief thoughts on some of the man’s finest moments:
Top Ten: Bowie Albums
10. Young Americans (1975). Plastic Soul according to Bowie, but even
James Brown, the Godfather of (non plastic) Soul, loved Fame so much that he absolutely ripped off the Carlos Alomar riff for his single Hot.
9. Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) (1980). Bowie albums are still
regularly named as the ‘best since Scary Monsters’.
8. Heathen (2002). Eh, the best Bowie since Scary Monsters.
7. Diamond Dogs (1974). His farewell to Glam and also the best ever
Bowie album cover sleeve painted by Guy Peellaert.
6. Heroes (1977). Voted Best of the Year by both NME and Melody Maker in 1977 and memorably, as Punk peaked creatively in the UK, marketed under the slogan ‘There’s Old Wave, there’s New Wave and there’s David Bowie’.
5. The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
(1972). While we’re on the theme of Ziggy, look out for the new book by Simon Goddard, Ziggyology, A Brief History of Ziggy Stardust.
4. Aladdin Sane (1973). With the near constant touring and production duties with Mott the Hoople, Lou Reed and Iggy around this time it’s almost miraculous that Bowie managed to find the time for this, his first #1 album in Britain. Not as disciplined as Ziggy but, hey, Ziggy didn’t have Mike Garson, so this just edges it, especially because of the exquisite Lady Grinning Soul.
3. Low (1977). David at his most experimental. I seem to remember
John Peel previewing the whole of side one on his late night radio show and it sounded to me as if he was fading tracks, something he was normally loathe to do. Wrong. He wasn’t. And I also thought side two must be much more commercial. Wrong again.
2. Hunky Dory (1971). Kooks. Changes. Oh! You Pretty Things. Life on
Mars? The Bewley Brothers. Wow! Still can’t really be arsed about Song
for Bob Dylan though, which probably denied it the top spot.
1. Station to Station (1976). This was Cocaine Psychosis Bowie or the Thin White Duke if you prefer, a paranoid wreck, obsessed with the occult and flirting with fascism. Bowie remembers little about making this LP but Lester Bangs, who’d had previously dismissed his act as ‘Johnny Ray on cocaine singing about 1984’, got it right when he called this a masterpiece. Albeit, in the circumstances, possibly an unlikely one.
And, not featured on any of those ten, here’s Boys Keep Swinging from 1979, which certainly brings back some amazing memories for me.
David Robert Jones/David Bowie: 8 January 1947 – 10 January 2016
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