David Bowie died two years ago today, 10th January 2016 in Manhattan, New York City, US. Singer, songwriter and musician he released 25 studio albums & sold over 150 million records. “There’s a Starman, waiting in the sky”
Bowie died at the age of 69 surrounded by his family following an 18-month battle with cancer. A statement was issued across the musician’s official social media profiles, asking the public to respect the “family’s privacy during their time of grief”. The statement on Facebook read: “January 10 2016 – David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18 month battle with cancer. While many of you will share in this loss, we ask that you respect the family’s privacy during their time of grief.”
— Penguin Books UK (@PenguinUKBooks) January 10, 2018
Bowie’s death came just two days after he released his 25th and final album ‘★’ (Blackstar). The influential singer-songwriter and producer dabbled in glam rock, art rock, soul, hard rock, dance pop, punk and electronica during his eclectic 40-plus-year career. He just released his 25th album, Blackstar, Jan. 8, which was his birthday.
Many were shocked by the news of Bowie’s passing. He was a true original and for many part of the soundtrack of their lives. But he kept his last illness private and there was no drama afterwards as he had arranged a direct cremation without ceremony. His penchant for privacy extended to not acknowledging he had a heart attack on stage in Prague in 2004 after which he stopped touring.
He somehow managed to return for a few more songs that night, before seeing a doctor who misdiagnosed him with a pinched nerve in his shoulder, prescribing muscle relaxants. Bowie pushed through one more shaky show at a German festival two days later, ending with the last version of “Ziggy Stardust” he’d ever sing in concert. He hit every note, made it down the stairs leading off the stage, and promptly collapsed. At a local hospital, doctors realized that he had a blocked artery in his heart, and performed emergency surgery. That night essentially marked the end of David Bowie as a public figure. He never toured again, never gave another in-depth interview. A heavy smoker for years biographers have suggested he may have had six heart attacks before dying of cancer.
— The Skibbereen Eagle (@theskibeagle) January 11, 2016
I met him in the best of circumstances in July 1987 after he played at Slane Castle, outside Dublin. I had gone with a girlfriend to “Risqué” a night club run by Kader Asmal’s son Rafiq on a Saturday night under Vogue restaurant on Dublin’s Grafton Street. We were astonished around 12.30 when this part time club was graced by David Bowie, his Band and entourage who crashed in after performing to 50,000 at Slane Castle earlier. I ended up chatting to David who mentioned that while his mother Peggy Burns was born in England her family were originally White’s from New Ross in Co. Wexford. His management asked for the doors to be closed but very kindly insisted on picking up a bar tab for everybody in the club until four in the morning by way of thanks! He looked tired, it was shortly after the “Berlin Years” but there again he had just performed what by all accounts was a great concert at Slane. The irony of not being able to afford the concert ticket but getting to chat to David afterwards has not been lost on me since.
See: Kader Asmal – Freedom’s Friend
There is also an important connection with David Bowie and my local town Aylesbury which was the base for the seminal Friars Music Club. Friars became famous for its great atmosphere, iconic bands and infectiously enthusiastic audience. Friars is universally acknowledged as having played a role in the careers of David Bowie, Genesis, Mott The Hoople, The Jam, The Clash, The Ramones, Tom Petty, Split Enz, Kraftwerk, Fleetwood Mac, Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs, Blondie, Talking Heads, The Buzzcocks and many more …
Friars’ most memorable night took place on January 29th 1972 when David Bowie chose the venue to perform as Ziggy Stardust for the very first time. The birthplace of one of the UK’s most culturally significant icons, a section of Stardust’s satin sequined shirt, which was ripped-off by overzealous fans during the concert was in the Friars exhibition held locally in 2014.
Friars – The Music Club which rocked the world
Bowie’s artistic breakthrough came with 1972’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, an album that fostered the notion of rock star as space alien. Fusing British mod with Japanese kabuki styles and rock with theatre, Bowie created the flamboyant, androgynous alter ego Ziggy Stardust.
Three years later, Bowie achieved his first major American crossover success with the No. 1 single “Fame” off the top 10 album Young Americans, then followed with the 1976 avant-garde art rock LP Station to Station, which made it to No. 3 on the charts and featured top 10 hit “Golden Years.”
Other memorable songs included 1983’s “Let’s Dance” — his only other No. 1 U.S. hit — “Space Oddity,” “Heroes,” “Changes,” “Under Pressure,” “China Girl,” “Modern Love,” “Rebel, Rebel,” “All the Young Dudes,” “Panic in Detroit,” “Fashion,” “Life on Mars,” “Suffragette City” and a 1977 Christmas medley with Bing Crosby.
— BBC Scotland News (@BBCScotlandNews) January 10, 2018
With his different-colored eyes (the result of a schoolyard fight) and needlelike frame, Bowie was a natural to segue from music into curious movie roles, and he starred as an alien seeking help for his dying planet in Nicolas Roeg’s surreal The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976). Critics later applauded his three-month Broadway stint as the misshapen lead in 1980’s The Elephant Man.
Bowie also starred in Marlene Dietrich’s last film, Just a Gigolo (1978), portrayed a World War II prisoner of war in Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (1983), and played Pontius Pilate in Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ (1988). And in another groundbreaking move, Bowie, who always embraced technology, became the first rock star to morph into an Internet Service Provider with the launch in September 1998 of BowieNet.
Born David Jones in London on Jan. 8, 1947, Bowie changed his name in 1966 after The Monkees’ Davy Jones achieved stardom. He played saxophone and started a mime company, and after stints in several bands he signed with Mercury Records, which in 1969 released his album Man of Words, Man of Music, which featured “Space Oddity,” a poignant song about an astronaut, Major Tom, spiralling out of control.
Sad to hear about David Bowie, 1947 – 2016. His first public musical performance took place when he was a Scout. pic.twitter.com/swDNoAmGjs
— UK Scout Association (@UKScouting) January 11, 2016
In an attempt to stir interest in Ziggy Stardust, Bowie revealed in a January 1972 magazine interview that he was gay — though that might have been a publicity stunt — dyed his hair orange and began wearing women’s garb. The album became a sensation.
Bowie was relatively quiet between the years of 2004 and 2012, reemerging in 2013 with the album The Next Day. Its arrival was met with a social media firestorm which catapulted it to No. 2 on the Billboard 200, his highest charting album ever. While demand for a tour by the reclusive rock star has been relentless, Bowie kept a decidedly low profile, maintaining a residence in New York but rarely seen.
The 10 January 2016 was a sad day for Bowie and his family, especially his wife Iman Mohamed Abdulmajid, his son Duncan Jones and his daughter Alexandria Zahra Jones. His passing put into perspective the wonderfully curated exhibition at the V & A in London I attended in 2013 which was an international retrospective of his extraordinary career. Bowie was featured in more than 300 objects that include handwritten lyrics, original costumes, fashion, photography, film, music videos, set designs and Bowie’s own instruments. In March 2013, Bowie visited London, where he brought Iman and Lexi along for an off-hours visit to “David Bowie Is,” at the Victoria and Albert Museum that included everything from his sketches for stage setups to famous costumes to an old coke spoon, all drawn from the Bowie organization’s own extensive, carefully maintained, 75,000-item archives. “We arranged it as a private, self-led family visit,” says exhibit co-curator Victoria Broackes. “They spent a good amount of time there. I think to see it all on show must have been a very unusual experience for him, and quite overwhelming, in a sense.”
Enigmatic to the last, it is as if the Thin White Duke aka David Jones of Brixton, London, was laying down his last record.
“I’m feeling very still
I think my spaceship knows which way to go
Tell my wife I love her much she knows”
David Bowie, born David Robert Jones; London, 8 January 1947 – Died. New York, 10 January 2016, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, arranger, painter, and actor.
Today, powered by its readers and contributors, from its cyber eyries in Ireland and the centres of the Irish Diaspora The Eagle casts its Cold Eye on Life and Death and much in between.