Planet earth is blue. The outpouring of love for Bowie is unsurprising. Few artists have had success in so many sectors over so many decades. He belonged to the internet generation, pre and post, a child of the space race with the determination and talent to excel. He is rightly revered.
I may not have always loved him. He made some music I never want to hear again and some I’d gladly listen to every day. The fact that he was able to transcend mistakes, to float above the norms, mark him out as truly special.
Aside from the music I wondered what his legacy meant for other musicians, what lessons could be learned.
Signed in the sixties, the original David Bowie was a mod. At least in style. His music had folk/pop leanings and it was unsuccessful. These were different times. He tried hard but couldn’t buy a hit, experiencing three years between hit singles, a first album that flopped followed by another two that did the same. All three albums eventually charted in 1972 after Ziggy.
Before and between albums he played live, joined a dance school, wrote songs for others, appeared in a tv commercial, expanded his influences. He flogged himself around trying to catch a break.
Absorb your influences
We hear a lot about Bowie the chameleon, he was far more of a sponge. He picked up musical and stylistic influences that he liked and absorbed them into his art. It’s not all about the music although it is said that the Ziggy persona that gave him his break came from moulding his favourite elements of Lou Reed and Iggy Pop.
Pay It Back
Bowie/Ronson produced Lou Reed’s Transformer. Bowie also wrote and performed on Iggy Pop’s The Idiot and Lust For Life, playing live in the band. If Ziggy was theft of their identities then David re-paid it many times over. Throughout his career he had an eye for talent and would go out of his way to champion it. Be generous in your largesse, it pays off.