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.

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