By Grace Bernal
January has had a chilling and ominous start. I think of Bowie every year in January for many reasons and this past week was no different. As I lay in bed this past Saturday thinking of what an incredible life he was leading and how he had impacted many with his music and fashion, I also wondered how people would react if he passed away. The next evening it was disclosed Bowie had succumbed to liver cancer. I find it so hard to believe, but this much is true. Bowie was the Patron of Rock he was fashionably chic, cool, and talented. He influenced many, especially youth who were the first to discover his music. Bowie was a giant of music, a master of melody, a striking painter, an icon of fashion, and an artist who did it all. He came into the music scene in 1969 with Space Oddity. The 70s were one masterpiece after another, from Changes to Young Americans. Accoutrements to his outlandish music were the personas he created, such as Ziggy Stardust, and Aladdin Sane. Bowie was a person who could take on different identities, and do so with credibility, intensity and integrity. As he moved toward middle age in the 80s, he wrote songs like Lets Dance, and China Girl, not to mention starring in films like Labyrinth. Bowie married Iman and they had a daughter Alexandria, and continued his great service in art and music. The last few years he kept creating by co-writing Lazarus, and on his January 8th birthday, his final album, titled Black Star, was released. For decades, Bowie was a trailblazing innovator. He may have stopped touring but worked until his last breath. His passing came as a surprise to fans all over the world.
Local fans like Kim Candreva rushed to Hollywood and paid tribute. Here’s what she had to say: “I left Ontario at 11 a.m. His star is in front of CVS on Hollywood Blvd.. The news-stations were already there. I walked over and put his picture at his star along with a rosary, and lit a candle. I sat in shock, feeling sad, watching people walk by. Many were shocked as they learned the sad news. A Japanese couple looked at what was going on and when they realized it was Bowie they began to gasp. People were literally just finding out as they asked, ‘Who died?’ And when they heard Bowie they were tripping out.” Kim felt like she had to be down there next to Bowie’s star because she loved his music and Bowie was like a chameleon, changing all the time. For Kim, who grew up on Bowie going to parties, one of her favorite albums was Diamond Dogs, which was her era, and she loves that she was also fortunate to see him play live twice, once at US Festival, and his last concert Glass Spider tour at Angel Stadium, which she said “was like going to heaven.”
Others weighed in at this passing of an icon and of an era:
“Without Bowie there would never have been The Cure, Psychedelic Furs, Bauhaus,Siouxsie, or a slew of other bands, good and bad. His influence knows no bounds and still resonates today, a true innovater who kicked down the door. Bowie made twelve incredible albums between 1970 and 1980 and some pretty good ones after that. My props to chameleon known to the world as David Bowie.” ~Robert from Chino
“There isn’t anything poignant I can say that hasn’t already been said about David Bowie. This is the one time I’m really grateful for social media because the outpouring of tributes and messages from friends, family and celebrities are so beautiful and comforting. A little piece of me died today when my damn alarm clock went off and I heard Bean announce the news. I thought it was a stupid KROQ joke. I used to stay up late on Sunday night every year just to hear Rodney’s David Bowie birthday show! I saw every Tour from 1983 on; except for Tin Machine days.”
~Tracie Valenzuela Rancho Cucamonga
The Thin White Duke told loved ones, including the son he had with Angie Bowie, Duncan Zowie Bowie that he wanted to “go without any fuss” and he requested that there be no private or public funerals or memorial services after his passing. Spontaneously, however, memorials for him have been scheduled, such as one honoring him and and Motörhead’s Lemmy, who also recently passed, tonight at Monty Bar, located at 1222 West 7th in downtown L.A.
For those of you who have seen his latest video and for those of you who have yet to see it, I take it as a crowning achievement of this consumate artist who lived so fully yet knew he was to die, his symbolic cosmic send-off. He brandishes a book, on which is emblazoned his latest and last symbol, the Black Star. The Black Star Book is an artistic Talmud, Bible, Koran or Bhagavad Gita. The message, to me, is that through art we can transcend life and we can transcend death.
Long live fashion icon, artist, musician, and chameleon David Bowie; your fans love you until the end.
“I’m not a prophet or a stone aged man, just a mortal with potential of a superman. I’m living on.” ~David Bowie