As the sad news of David Bowie’s passing reached us, one of our writers, Simon Tucker asked if he could share his thoughts on the great man.
This one hurts. I mean this one REALLY fucking hurts. How can this be real? How can someone so otherworldly and ethereal be proven to be like us mortals? Yes I am aware of the heart attack and the previous ill health but even with that knowledge this is a tough pill to swallow. The collective outpouring of grief all over the cosmos sums the mans impact perfectly. People are crying on trains, in offices, or on a keyboard as they type this piece.
My relationship with Bowie goes back to the womb. My parents were avid fans of his glam and eighties pomp and pop and his music is as much of my memories as the living room and kitchen of my house. Along with Queen, Bowie’s music was the soundtrack to my upbringing. In fact, when I think back it is their music that always accompanies the images. Images that include my parents dancing together in the living room, making me blush with embarrassment. Memories of roast dinners at the table, of my brother and sister playing downstairs as I tried to drag my arse out of bed, of my dad sat with his headphones on listening to The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust (more of which later).
One thing I must admit is, I’m can’t claim to be one of the thousands of UK youth whose mind was set on fire by a certain Top Of The Pops performance (my dad was one of the lucky ones) no, my early memories of Bowie are of Let’s Dance, China Girl, Live Aid and the joy of being sat with my siblings watching Labyrinth, a film I still have a deep fondness for and one I only recently watched with my wife and three-year-old son.
As I approached and then dived into the oblivion of teenage years me and Bowie parted ways. I just couldn’t possibly listen to his music as that was music my parents listened to (how uncool).
Throughout these years, especially between the ages of 16-18, I embarked on a journey into rave culture and drug addiction. Life at home was unbearable for all concerned as I constantly clashed my my parents and my dad in particular (a story that repeats through decades of human existence). I was quite frankly a mess, doing anything from up to three g’s of speed a day. Things were bleak. Then some light shone through the darkness. I made an attempt at cleaning up my act and after a few months of self-enforced house arrest, I riffled through my folks record collection and picked up The Rise and Fall, went upstairs, lit a spliff and that drum beat crept into my soul again.
I listened to the album repeatedly for the next few months and due to this I began having a dialogue with my father again. We would chat for hours about how great that album was (is). Our relationship grew stronger and stronger and it is one that is solid to this day. In fact, only yesterday I was at my niece’s seventh birthday discussing Blackstar and how great a record it is with my parents and brother. What an album to leave us with.
My Bowie obsession grew fast and with each album I discovered more links in the chain. Through him I went and bought Lou Reed’s Berlin, Iggy Pop’s The Idiot and Kraftwerk’s Trans-Europe Express, all artists I was aware of but now after reading about his work and influences they seemed even greater. I also noticed that a huge amount of the artists in my collection were inspired by him including Joy Division, The Cure, Radiohead, and even Goldie.
Then come the books. Bowie served as a great library, name-checking books in interviews which you would then go and seek out. He remains a great example of how important it is to look outside the box and read as much as you can. Philosophy, spirituality, comedy, politics, and fiction all had a place in his head which led to them entering mine. If you do one thing this month go check out at least one book he has cited as an influence and go read it. Your life will be enriched.
The feeling we have lost a member of the family is as powerful a tribute to the man’s work as there could possibly be. The reason we feel this loss so bad? It’s because you were never lonely when you had Bowie in your life. He addressed mental health issues in his music so beautifully and always felt like he was speaking directly to you
“You’re not alone, so turn on with me. You’re wonderful..give me your hands, because you’re wonderful”
The amount of people I have connected with through a shared love of David’s music is a gift from him that I will always be grateful for. I’ve spent hours discussing the man’s work with techno heads, drum ‘n’ bass obsessives, Goths, indie-swagger lads, and krautrock devotees. This continues to this very day as via Twitter I have been discussing the great man at length recently and in my job at Tangled Parrot Records myself and the owner Matt would often debate his best albums (Matt loves Diamond Dogs, an album I never connected with). Bowie cut through everything, shit he even cut through punk with those wanting to tear down the system and music of the time often left scratching their heads and admiring the sheer balls of the man.
I could go on and on about what this man means to me but I’m struggling to continue to write if I’m honest.
Thanks for everything David. Thanks for giving me my family back, friends for life, books on the shelf, records in their sleeves. I will always be eternally grateful.
RIP Starman xxxx