11 Jan 2016

The incredible creative life force that was David Bowie

If I was one for wearing a black tie, this would be a day for one.

I found my blackest tie this morning as news of Bowie’s death broke upon us. Fortunately that black tie is striped with colour – just as Bowie’s face could be.

So you may wonder why some straight old newsman is churned up by Bowie’s untimely death.

Well, he was emblematic of my generation. He was revolution, rebellion even in a time when we all rebelled against the given order.

His music swept us up, inspired us, lifted us.

Sure, we had the Beatles, we had the Stones, the Who, but they were rock bands.

Sure, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds edged us toward Bowie’s world. But Life on Mars, Can you hear me Major Tom, they captured the zeitgeist of our time.

But then I find other generations claiming him for their own too – my daughters, their friends and beyond.  It is hard indeed to imagine the death of another public person that could have quite this effect.

In part it was the private Bowie that was so public on his own terms.

Look at the last video of his life, the one he made for the album released just 48 hours before he died.

There he is, his dying head on a white pillow – a public display of what he had kept to very private – eighteen months suffering, and eventually dying of a cancer that only his closest circle knew of and never spoke of.


Why, I was so ignorant, I wrote to him a couple of weeks before Christmas begging to interview him ahead of his very publicly trailed latest album. Little did I know that he had settled upon this unsurprising way of saying goodbye to us all, and when it came it was a shocking surprise.

Sure, it was perhaps a manufactured mystique, but Bowie was a breed apart, a one off – we shall not see his eclectic, artistic like again. I haven’t even mentioned that spellbinding show he had at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.

Can you hear me Major Bowie? If you can, there is most assuredly, Life on Mars.

Follow Jon Snow on Twitter: @jonsnowc4

Tweets by @jonsnowC4

11 reader comments

  1. Jackie Bragg says:

    Thanks Jon, perfectly put.x

  2. Colin Byrne says:

    Looking forward to swapping Bowie notes tomorrow Jon. Nicely written.

  3. Daniel says:

    I was putzing on FB last night, commenting on my buds post about David’s new album. I had just figured out his “code” for his name and mentioned how of the 3 times I saw him perform live (and incalculable times in media) that he never was the same, always changing like a chameleon. Boy, was I shocked 2 hours after I posted…

  4. cheryl singh says:

    I love anything relating to DAVID BOWIE he was a major music icon he will definitely be missed and DESERVES MANY OVATIONS FOR HIS WONDERFUL OUTLOOK ON LIFE AND THE MUSIC HE HAS MADE IN HIS LIFES JOURNEY ! LOVE YOU R.I.P.

  5. Colin Robinson says:

    I have been sharing your blog clip with everyone I know because you have done something very very special Jon. Made the perfect comment on what Bowie was is and always will be. Thankyou

  6. Claire says:

    As usual mr snow you get to the zeitgeist.

  7. Joanne Entwistle says:


    Eloquently put. I’ve been reflecting a lot on his life and death (and I wouldn’t have called myself a fan before now so that is even more strange to me). He really had a massive influence and at a time of sweeping cultural change from the 60-70s and beyond, which he largely helped to promote. These were the decades when popular culture became a widely experienced phenomenon like never before. Now such popular culture fragments into more and more niches and genres yet also seems more bland. It is hard to imagine ever seeing such an outpouring for any other musician whose music and life can be shared and appreciated by so many. What an incredible creative spirit to have had such impact!

    As I’ve had cancer too and reflected on mortality there is something in the way he chose to die and use his art to express that which has moved me. I guess he took it to be the ultimate transformation after a lifetime of so many. I imagine he had a ‘good death’ just as he led a good life. Thank you Jon for sharing your personal reflections. I’ve been amazed to hear so many media folk speak so personally and movingly about this not as ‘objective’ news event reporters but one they are deeply involved in and part of.

  8. DjFootprint says:

    A wonderful eulogy Jon – Thank You.
    In my mind, David was the greatest – for 3/4 of my life, and i believe – in terms of songwriting (both lyrically and musically, production skills etc), ie: writing the lyrics to ‘Fame’ in 20 minutes (!) – And all his other talents, plus the range and scope of all his albums (not forgetting that he wrote and recorded 3 within 18 months in the early 70’s) – That he is / was, the pinnacle of Britain’s musicians / performers etc. Bigger even than The Beatles and The Stones. Some may dispute that – but the former only spanned a Decade and ‘burnt out’ – the latter, basically producing a ‘one style’ approach through their long career.
    Millions (of us) have lost a Hero, and not just for one day – but Bowie’s a Star(man), and will live on forever and ever.
    Thank You for all the incredible music David, that you shared with us – and how you left us with your final legacy – ‘Blackstar’ – despite being so ill whilst you wrote and recorded it. Your fight is now over, may you rest in peace – And Iman, Eliz and Duncan find strength in the days, weeks and months ahead. x

  9. Martin Cohen says:

    Personally I thought your segment on C4 news on the day he died was crass and banal. The visit to Manchester where your reporter asked a bunch of idiotic questions then got people to sing their favourite Bowie song tunelessly to the camera was as embarrasing as it gets. When returned to the studio you implored your guests to tell you their favourite Bowie song. At that point I rushed for the remote fearful you were going to get them to sing as well. Contrast that with ITV lunchtime news that struck a far more measured tone with an articulate interview with Midge Ure.

    But it didn’t end there. You interviewed Richard Wilson on the day Alan Rickman died and asked Wilson if he knew of his friend’s illness. When he replied he did you remarked, “so it wasn’t a case of ‘I don’t believe it!'” Considering poor Mr. Wilson’s well known feelings about every Tom Dick and Harry yelling that at him in the street, could such a cheap comment have been more inappropriate from a seasoned journalist on the day yet another much loved personality passed away?

    Get someone else to front these stories Mr. Snow and stick to politics.

  10. carol m says:

    Two things really.
    Thank you Jon Snow I am there with you right in the groove
    Thank you David Bowie I have just purchased a copy of Black Star…..WOW

  11. ashley says:

    it is just upsetting that he has died

Comments are closed.