I blame Star Wars for getting me into Bowie.
When I was just getting into music, the late seventies/early eighties, I got drawn in by the synth-pop that was emerging. The first single I bought was Are ‘friends’ electric? by Tubeway Army. The original release of Star Wars had ignited my love of Sci-Fi , and the futuristic sound of Numan and the other bands at the time was an obvious entry into the world of music.
My older brother was living with us at the time, and when I played my first Tubeway Army 7″ single on my mum’s old record player he said “It’s good, but sounds just like Bowie”.
I was devastated. Who was this ‘Bowie’ that my bother (clearly mistakenly) thought Numan had pilfered from? How could anybody prior to my generation have invented anything so original?
“Listen to this” said my brother, and put on the double live album Stage. I sat dumbstruck. WTF?!?! Not only is it better than the stuff now, it sounded fresher.
I spent the next month secretly working my way through my bother’s substantial Bowie collection, probably wearing out his copies of Hunky Dory, Ziggy Stardust, Heroes, Young Americans… (sorry bruv)! When he moved out I had to buy them all for myself, tsk!
Then Bowie released Ashes to Ashes, and out-new romantic’ed all the bright young things, and that was that. He was the king.
Was everything he did great? No. Was he always original? Hell no, and he’d be the first to acknowledge his influences. But has anyone had such an impact on music and popular culture over such a long period? I don’t think so. My all time favourite tracks/albums are dominated by his own work and by songs by other artists that you can hear his influence on.
We’ve lost a true great, but the world is a better place for him sharing his talent with us.