The stars look very different today. Music legend, fashion icon and inveterate champion of the off-beat, David Bowie, died of cancer at the age of 69.
This news appeared in my Facebook feed on Monday morning, seemingly surreal, leaving me numb and empty. This type of news jolts some people into contemplating their mortality. Not the case for me, since I have questioned my mortality since childhood. For that reason, I have led a life marching to my own creative, vibrant beat.
I was blessed with a sense of boundless freedom to say and do whatever I wanted. When I discovered Bowie’s music growing up, I viewed him as a fellow comrade who could help me carry a glorious and twisted torch in my quest to fight a world beset with mediocrity, complacency and fear to be creative and vocal.
Rather than write a biography on Bowie, I am listing what I loved about him and why his death will leave a gaping hole in my heart.
1. His voice was impassioned, projecting doom, gloom, mortality and the importance of unabashedly letting your freak flag fly. He expressed these emotions as the icon of 70s rock star fashion. He was also one of the few men who could launch the mullet hairstyle to the pinnacle of cool hairstyles for men.
2. There are countless online stories of his acts of compassion. It didn’t matter whether someone was his limo driver, grocery store clerk or managed his empire. He respected everyone equally. Humble men are a huge turn-on for me. Unfortunately, there are so few men who have achieved this level of success and yet who are still humble in their ways.
3. The breadth of his music career can only be rivaled by few male musicians in terms of creativity and range.
4. Songs. Oh God, the songs. I have had many insane, out of control, drunken nights, narrowly evading my demise while screeching with my gal pals to his music. My favorites are:
– Under Pressure
– We Can Be Heroes
– Major Tom
– Life on Mars
5. He battled cancer for 18 months, yet had the energy and unwavering love for his fans to craft his final album, BLACK STAR. He released it two days before his death. What a dignified way to orchestrate his final performance. It is rare for people of his stature to battle privately and not allow it to unravel on the social media platform.
When another music hero of mine, Joe Strummer of British punk band, The Clash, died in 2002, I was besieged with anger. I chose to face my grief by doing the punk rock thing of drinking the entire day and night with a friend while recounting “Clash” memories. This time around, there will be no drinking. I will continue to remember Bowie by listening to his music, rolling with the cavalcade of creatives who choose to staunchly create art to share with the world. Don’t you think more people should carry Bowie’s creative baton? Your time is now. Be creative, stay humble and live life to its fullest.