Sixty nine years ago at 40, Stansfield Road, off Coldharbour Lane, Brixton, South London, David Robert Jones was born to an Irish mother Margaret “Peggy” Burns and a Yorkshire father Haywood Stenton “John” Jones. Tonight in Brixton, “Sarf London” reclaimed David Bowie as one of their own.
Hundreds gathered outside Brixton’s Ritzy cinema to pay tribute to David Bowie, one of the area’s most famous sons who passed away after a secret battle with cancer. Fans were shocked to wake up to the news, and many flocked to the mural on the side of Morley’s department store opposite Brixton station to leave floral tributes and messages of condolence. Although the mood earlier on Monday was sombre, it turned to one of celebration as lovers of his music gathered to celebrate the legacy he has left.
Very sorry and sad to say it's true. I'll be offline for a while. Love to all. pic.twitter.com/Kh2fq3tf9m
— Duncan Jones (@ManMadeMoon) January 11, 2016
Honor Louise, who organised the impromptu street party outside the cinema, posted details in a Facebook event saying: “Bowie’s time on this earth may be over, but he sure left us some great music. Today is a day to gather together and celebrate.” Revellers were asked to bring instruments, speakers, food, “and most importantly love” to help raise a glass to the music legend.
— Iman Abdulmajid (@The_Real_IMAN) January 10, 2016
A second party was held at the Prince Albert pub in Coldharbour Lane, just yards from the house where Bowie was born in January 1947. The “Let’s Dance” party, organised by local website Brixton Blog, invites fans to dress up for the occasion. The website said: “Tonight, we’re going to drink, dance and celebrate Brixton’s finest son with a night of David Bowie music… “We’ll be playing his hits, album tracks, obscurities and more – plus some of his musical influences and the artists he inspired – and screening videos and photos of the great man.”
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) January 11, 2016
Fans attending both events donned their finest make-up and costumes to honour the fallen star. Rebecca Brown said: “On my way! Got my wacky makeup on and that dress everyone always makes fun of me for wearing. Slicked back hair too. Dressing the way I want to, because he was unstoppable, and so should we all be.”
— ITV News (@itvnews) January 11, 2016
Robert Wainman, 29, who lives in West Hampstead, said he was overcome by emotion when he visit the mural. He told The Eagle: “As I was walking up the tube steps there were people walking down with red eyes, there were people with flowers in their hands. I went to the mural first, and it was pretty packed by 7pm. When I looked at the mural I was fine, but as soon as I got to the front and saw the flowers I broke down. A guy offered me a beer and hugged me, it was pretty incredible.”
Although Bowie was born in Brixton, he moved to Beckenham, south east of London, at the age of six. Fans left tribute outside what was the Three Tuns pub where he started a creative arts scene.
At the vigil in Brixton, Rosie Lowery, 21, who painted her face with a lightning bolt in tribute, was crying as she laid flowers in Bowie’s memory. ‘I woke up this morning to my dad ringing me and he told me the news,’ she said. ‘I was so sad. I felt like I’d lost someone I knew – even though I hadn’t even seen him live.’
— NASA (@NASA) January 8, 2016
His last album Blackstar was recorded while Bowie was gravely ill and released last Friday, his 69th birthday, but he had rarely appeared in public in recent years. He was seen by fans for the last time on December 7, attending the premiere in New York of a musical based on his songs, called Lazarus. In the summer of 2014, Bowie made a low-key trip to his hometown with his wife Iman and their daughter Lexi, after jetting into London Luton Airport. They visited hotspots such as the London Eye but Bowie went unrecognised, and also went to the house where he grew up in Beckenham.
The video for the song Lazarus, released last Thursday, has been seen as a premonition of his untimely death – it begins with the singer stepping out of a closet into the confines of a dark hospital where he becomes trapped in a feverish nightmare. The footage continues with him lying in a hospital bed, his frail body wrapped in a blanket and his eyes, which are depicted by buttons, covered by a bandage. The opening line reads: ‘Look up here, I’m in heaven. I’ve got scars that can’t be seen. I’ve got drama, can’t be stolen. Everybody knows me now.’ It ends with the words: ‘This way or no way, you know, I’ll be free.’
In today’s diverse World City of London we treasure the right to be different and London is a huge creative hothouse in music, fashion, design, advertising, Web industries and much more. In Brixton tonight that right to be different and not to be defined by other people’s views and preconceptions was celebrated with gusto and spontaneity. But most of all they celebrated with his music the person who pioneered the right to be different and changed popular culture, they celebrated one of their own, David Bowie, late of this parish.
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.