David Wanted Fame

I've written about my personal time with David Bowie elsewhere on this site, but his death in early 2016 was a shock to the entire world. It was FAME that made him a beloved household name. John Hale has more. -- TDR

The passing of David Bowie got me to thinking about him in retrospect, and it hit me that Bowie hated the idea of being labeled. It's true that Bowie was a rock star in every sense of the word, and for more than four decades, but he was so much more.

David Bowie was a performance artist before anything else. He took rock music, just like he took genders, and he twisted both into something completely new. Whatever preconceived ideas you had about Bowie, you were wrong.

David Bowie was an acquired taste, something like Roquefort dressing. You listened to him and his music, and his performances caused you to scratch your head until, one day, you go "Oh, now I get it, and now I get him!" Two people, or 10, or 10 thousand could watch Bowie in concert, and each would take something different from the performance.

As adamant as David Bowie was about not being labeled, he was equally adamant about maintaining his privacy. You saw him do these extravagant things over the years, but if you really think you knew David Bowie, you're wrong, you didn't. Only a very select few, as I'm given to understand, were ever allowed by him to get to really know the private David Bowie.

His music? It was impossible to categorize it. You could call it glam rock, club dance music, classic rock, or any of a dozen or more labels, and you'd only be partly right. A great example? Fame, his collaborative effort with John Lennon. It gets played on classic rock radio, but it's equal parts art rock and dance music as well. Here...You'll see what I meant when I said David Bowie was a performance artist first and foremost.

Space Oddity, original video

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