It was with great sadness that I learnt of the death of one of my music ‘heroes’ David Bowie this morning.
His story represents much of what I admire about the opportunity this country offers, having started from very humble origins, born into an ordinary family in Brixton on the 8th January 1947. Out of those post war, grim ration dominated days he emerged as one of the greatest song writers and performers of his generation. He demonstrated a mastery of styles, a vivid imagination and a gift for originality that I doubt we will see again for many years if ever.
There were so many career high points that it is almost impossible to detail them here but along side the many pop and rock hits Bowie also adapted and performed ‘Little Drummer Boy/ Peace on Earth’ with Bing Crosby which was recorded in September 1977. As it turned out this was just under one month from Crosby’s untimely death. This song has become a Christmas classic and is testament to his performance and style versatility.
His music was and still is an inspiration to millions across all the ‘alter egos’ he created. I have no doubt that later today in the International Space Station the strains of Major Tom will be heard ‘far above the earth’ very apt as this was his first hit in July 1969.
Bowie had a significant local connection as he played his now legendary Ziggy Stardust farewell concert at the Hammersmith Odeon which many regard as the finest performance of his career. I am sure there are local residents out there who attended that night and will remember it as a classic moment in the history of British popular culture.
For those of us who grew up through the 1960’s and 70’s his music will always be associated with personal milestones of success, torment, sadness and joy. Many will mourn his passing but he has left his music to us as his gift and inspiration, for now and for future generations.