Last month the death was announced of one of my personal heroes, David Bowie. For someone who had mastered the art of surprising, and shocking but never being ordinary, his death was quiet and dignified. No funeral, just a simple private cremation. Following the announcement, I contacted Badger and asked him for his memories.
There has been the most public show of pain over the death of David Bowie. I however didn’t really spend much time in awe of the man. His music was … ok. His style was …. ‘weird’. His acting, let’s face it, pretty poor. ‘His legacy’, said one television pundit ‘immeasurable’. Possibly.
I spent a long time during the 80s trying to figure out who I really was muscially, growing up with a huge diversity of music. My musical taste was constantly changing; my older brothers loved The Beatles, The Stones and anything with a guitar. Our school was a massive mix of culture and with that came lots of musical tastes, from Reggae to Hip Hop, Two Tone and Metal. The first record I bought just happened to be Ashes to Ashes because I just liked the tune. At the time it was the restart of Bowie’s career after he’d got lost (after being away for almost 3 years). I played it over and over on my mum’s radiogram which I felt was a little uncomfortable belting out Bowie’s lyrics as opposed to the usual stuff from Glen Miller and Val Doonican.
While being blasted by class mates as it just wasn’t ‘that cool’ as it wasn’t Madness or the Selector, I did like to feel that some of the sixth formers at Glan Afan Comp held me in slightly higher respect, when I got caught in the common room playing the single during morning break.
Life consisted of watching Top of the Pops, waiting for the top 40 countdown at the counter of Derrick’s Records, and being late for afternoon lessons.
The 70s and 80s were Bowie’s decades. They were our decades. We loved Under Pressure, Dancing in the Streets. I started going back in time and tracking down past hits like Heroes and Fashion. Then the inevitable happened. The down fall that befalls so many musicians. He became ‘Popular’. And there it was BOOM – many of his true fans stuck with him, the NME felt he sold out. There were cover versions, top 40 hits that mums and their daughters enjoyed equally. He’d become a massive pop star, It was a double edged sword. The great and good expected hit after hit, but he saw it as an opportunity not to make pop songs, but to write the music he wanted while performing the songs the masses loved. Movie directors knew that if Bowie was in the credits they’d be able to take mediocre scripts and turn them into big budget box office hits.
Then he took time out of the public eye to concentrate on family, friends, not being famous. His art was amazing. He ensured he kept fans in touch with live dates even if the hits weren’t that forthcoming – it didn’t matter. He was doing what he loved the way he loved it and if you didn’t like it he didn’t care. Bowie’s greatest legacy? Be yourself because trying to be anyone else isn’t going to make you happy and besides, you’ll find you’re a pretty awesome person to hang out with. He was.