Ground Control to Major Tom. Your Circuit’s dead, there is something wrong. Far above the Moon. Planet Earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do.”
–David Bowie |Space Oddity 1999.
ZIGGY STARDUST (Bowie) passed away after landing on this planet 69 years ago. His legacy of music, lyrics, style, acting along with his influence on “rock culture” will live on.
Space Oddity ascended on the charts with breath-taking speed. A hint of the greatness of a career that would span from the 1960’s until his untimely death on January 10th, 2016. Not to be forgotten are the many memorable hits, lyrics, his unforgettable duet with a very frightened looking Bing Crosby as they beautifully harmonized Peace On Earth/ Little Drummer Boy the classic Xmas Carols.
That was the post glitter rock era that Bowie brilliantly created that was emulated by many. It was almost as if the Woodstock Generation had found a new life not to mention a leader. There was glitter everywhere even on the Rolling Stones whose image was never designed to take on that type of persona.
Along the way there were rumored sexual trysts interestingly enough with Mick Jagger amongst others. Few knew how to work the media for publicity better than bowie. When not mesmerizing us with his music David put his acting ability on display on Broadway as he took on the leading role of Joh Merrick in the Tony Award Winning Play The Elephant Man.
Prior to that Bowie radically changed his musical direction to Philadelphia Soul with help from John Lennon that produced such hits as Fame & Young Americans. This new sound although successful was too different for many of his glitter/glam rock/hard rock fans to take a liking to.
The 1980’s saw Bowie take on and succeed with going back rock and then changing in midstream Bowie created more pop sounding songs that led to the hit singles Let’s Dance, China Girl and Modern Love. The song he penned appropriately entitled Changes was often seen as his personal take on his own chameleonic personality, the reinventions of his “sound” not to mention his view of the changing world around him.
During the 1990’s we saw many different images of Bowie. Never one to be content with one look or style each look had its own statement which he epitomized in his song Fashion. Although Bowie created fashion through dress and song he never became enslaved by it. That was a fitting tribute to the genius behind the talent.
On June 25, 2004 David Bowie gave what turned out to be the final live concert of his career as the rest of that tour was cancelled due to an emergency angioplasty that was performed in Germany. Over the remaining years Bowie mad occasional guest appearances. He refused to tour after the release of his critically acclaimed album The Next Day. Several years earlier (2005) he joined Alicia Keys at a benefit concert here in New York but his golden multi-octave would never be heard in public again.
Tragically David Bowie died of liver cancer leaving behind a wealth of songs. Tribute concerts in his honor celebrated the life of the man putting him in rock n roll immortality along with people like John Lennon and Elvis Presley.
Sad to say I lost track of Bowie and his music many years ago. I had enjoyed most of his songs and admired the way he would risk all he accomplished musically for the sake of taking on a new sound or persona. When the news came that he passed I was first passive at best only to have the full sadness and regret intertwined around my renewed feeling of mortality. Bowie’s music was part of my life that flew past me.
Everything was Hunky Dory when Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars landed in Cleveland in the early 1970’s. A career that encompassed music, film and Broadway left us always wanting more. Goodbye Major Tom! Planet Earth is blue from losing you.