Monday, 11 January 2016

Farewell to a Chameleon

Like most of the world, I was utterly shocked this morning to hear of the death of David Bowie.  Like most of the world, I hadn't even known that he had been ill.  Given all the crazy shenanigans that he had done in his younger years, one would think that the man would never die.

During the first half of the 1980s I was a neophyte as far as rock music was concerned, having been raised mainly with classical and jazz.  I had a few favourite tunes but I hadn't gravitated toward any artist in particular.  And then in 1986 I saw the film Labyrinth, which sparked my interest in Bowie's music.  (His handsome and other-worldly look helped too.)  I grabbed every album of his that I could afford, starting with his smash hit Let's Dance (1983).

His music helped me through a lot of difficult times, and even with schoolwork.  The song "Loving the Alien" from Tonight (1984) was the backdrop for a synchronized swimming routine I choreographed for a physical education course.  I used clips from many of his hits in a presentation for a music-appreciation class.  My first-ever online alias was lifted from the song "Blue Jean".

When the 1987 Glass Spider tour was scheduled to arrive in Montreal, I clandestinely saved up my money and planned to skip school so I could go to buy tickets.  However my mother found out and forced me to attend my classes while she went to get the tickets instead - and her effort was not wasted by a long shot.  She and I braved an audience of 45,000 people to see one of the most theatrical concerts that I have ever witnessed.

I was to see Bowie live in concert twice more: the Sound+Vision tour in 1990 and the Reality tour in 2003.  Today I have a great number of his albums and several compilations, not to mention a scrapbook full of newspaper clippings about him.

He was the first superstar that I'd taken such a close interest in and he remains my favourite rock musician to this day.  The world has lost a true artist.

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