This morning it was announced that the world has lost David Bowie to cancer after an 18-month illness. He had just turned 69. Without question, he was one of the most influential artists, actors and performers in this history of music, one of the most unique in his approach to challenging social conventions and one of the most beloved in the whole cosmic universe.
Born near London, Bowie began playing guitar at age 15; he told his mother he would be a rock star. He released his first self-titled record in 1967, a second in 1969 and then The Man Who Sold The World in 1970, which established Bowie as a force in rock and roll. He was compared to Zeppelin, Sabbath and Lou Reed, American soul, disco. Later bands and artists would be invariably compared to him. Over the decade, with album releases almost every year, Bowie embodied the 1970s glam, gender-bending, high-fashion, high-concept, historical and social commentary, amazing riffs, amazing piano, an artist and a visionary in all senses.
Through the 1980s, Bowie collaborated with other formative artists and his sound would adapt and inflect various styles in music while maintaining an edge that, in retrospect, belongs entirely to his own invention. His performance in Jim Henson's 1986 fantasy, Labyrinth, will be eternally iconic. From funk to new-wave to classical, Bowie was always the trendsetter. There never was and never will be a person like David Bowie. In 2013, he released The Next Day before re-releasing "Let's Dance." On his birthday this year, January 8, he released Blackstar, just two days before his death. Defacing the idea of his legacy, in some ways, Blackstar is an album on which, as Michael Rancic says, Bowie is "waiting for everyone else to catch up," as always. Someday, we will.
In his memory, The Coast staff picks their favourite Bowie songs, for our hero, David Bowie.
Christine Oreskovich, Publisher
"I have always been a huge Bowie fan. I remember hearing 'China Girl' in 1983, when I was 11. He was so sexy. My favourites? 'Ashes to Ashes,' 'Diamond Dogs,' 'Suffragette City,' 'Let's Dance,' 'Heroes,' the most romantic song ever. I can't list them all. I'm in a David Bowie Cover Choir, eight of us sing David Bowie songs, we're actually meeting tonight. The songs are all still so great."
Kyle Shaw, Editor
"'The Jean Genie.' I never got into Bowie, but I really liked that video. His songs, like 'Queen Bitch,' were in Wes Anderson films, and that revitalized my fandom. Christine's a big fan."
Adria Young, Staff Writer/Arts
"I think 'Rebel, Rebel' was the first song that allowed me to understand gender dynamics — for me, it was the first song to articulate that gender is a performance and a construct, and sexuality is fluid. As a tomboy and as a rule-breaker, this was my anthem. It also shaped my understanding of British rock, and got me into the Stones. Over the years, I related to different eras of Bowie's personality as I began to understand myself. But 'Rebel, Rebel' was different. Fuck the rules."
Grant Faulkner, Account Executive
"'Heroes,' because I really liked Brian Eno, and they wrote it together, and it's just good."
Matthew Bustin, Production Assistant
"I think 'Golden Years,' because it makes me happy, it makes me want to dance. Bowie was clearly an incredibly unique musician. Not just musically, but he had a huge impact on fashion, too."
Rochelle Locke, Senior Account Executive
"I think 'Under Pressure.' It always reminds me of my dad because he was a big Queen fan and he introduced me to both Bowie and Queen. But every song. Every song that comes up."
The Guardian's obituary for Bowie is gorgeous. A true legend. David Bowie forever.