Monthly Archives: January 2016

The Gift Of David Bowie

“Trust what makes you different.”– David Bowie

David Bowie pioneered “disruptive technology” decades before it became a popular buzzword. He then applied it to his OWN creations. Each new Bowie incarnation (no matter how successful) would be unceremoniously replaced with a new sound and persona to go with it, in rapid fire style. In the span of just 6 years, he went from Flower Child to apocalyptic Goth to Dylanesque rocker to Punk space invader to Aladdin Sane to doomsday dog to Plastic Soul singer and to introspective Krautrocker. The changes kept coming after that as avant guard Troubadour, bleach blonde Pop star, Goblin King, Metalhead,  Industrial Rocker, dapper Elder Statesman and finally, reclusive Rock idol. He was also cast in acting roles as a space alien, gigolo, vampire, Elephant Man, WWII POW, Andy Warhol and Nikolai Tesla. Now that’s a LOT of makeup!


Bowie’s seemingly chaotic artistic flux became just another reason to pay close and constant attention to The Starman. With each new identity and sound he created the underlying message was, Jump aboard now cause if you miss this train there may never be another like it. While jettisoning a successful formula results in career suicide for most Pop stars, Bowie used unpredictability and surprise as his marketing strategy, creating suspense and an ever growing interest in his ongoing evolution. The result was the kind of word of mouth viral advertising today’s Facebook executives would kill for. Bowie collaborator Ken Scott said, “Most artists, if they’re successful, they stick to that plan, because they’re worried that they’ll suddenly lose their fans. But David’s attitude was always, ‘I’m going to do what I want to do and hope they come along with me, but if they don’t, they don’t.’ That’s truly unique and totally courageous, especially in music.”

“Considering that he was coming off the Ziggy album, which was all guitar-based, just a few months before, and now he was onto something piano-based and really unusual, it’s really extraordinary for an artist who was just starting to have hits to rip up his formula and create something totally different.” -Pianist Mike Garson


The influence of Bowie’s experimentations in music and fashion almost single handedly created the DIY, New Wave revolution of the 80s. He inspired countless numbers of artists to follow their own visions including Joy Division, Blondie, Duran Duran, Madonna, U2, Oasis, Nirvana, Radiohead, Arctic Monkeys, Lady Gaga and even Kanye West. In 2005, Bono of U2 told Rolling Stone magazine, “Bowie was much more responsible for the aesthetic of punk rock than he’s been given credit for… As a teenager,” Bono says, “Bowie was our Elvis.”

Punk and New Wave then gave rise to the term “Alternative Music” to describe a genre of rock music that emerged from the independent music underground of the 1980s. Artists that created edgy, non-mainstream music that often dealt with difficult subject matter became widely popular in the 1990s and 2000s. Prior to that, Bowie WAS the Alternative. Something he had been doing with great success since the 60’s.

“We are all Bowie’s children.” -Pet Shop Boys


For all the cold detachment of The Man Who Sold The World, Ziggy and the Thin White Duke, Bowie endeared himself to fans worldwide as his music often empathized with the alienated and commiserated with the lonely. People who in some way felt different, ostracized, oppressed or misunderstood (which is probably all of us at one time or another) found solace and connection in messages from the ultimate outsider. This English bloke inhabiting a series of bizarre characters and bravely putting them on display made it a little more ok for us to embrace our inner freak.

“You’re NOT alone!”, screamed Ziggy Stardust on the album’s closing track, “Rock ’n’ Roll Suicide”, while also claiming, “You’re wonderful”. Many have cited Bowie as an inspiration for them to believe in themselves and follow their own dreams. To accept themselves, flaws and all and continue to evolve.

Oh no love, you’re not alone

You’re watching yourself but you’re too unfair

You got your head all tangled up but if i could only

Make you care

Oh no love, you’re not alone

No matter what or who you’ve been

No matter when or where you’ve seen

All the knives seem to lacerate your brain

I’ve had my share, I’ll help you with the pain

You’re not alone 

Just turn on with me and you’re not alone

Let’s turn on with me and you’re not alone (wonderful)

Let’s turn on and be not alone (wonderful)

Gimme your hands cause you’re wonderful (wonderful)

Gimme your hands cause you’re wonderful (wonderful)

Oh gimme your hands

-Rock ’n’ Roll Suicide


Bowie changed the world by subversion rather than conversion. The man took huge risks, hell, he even wore dresses at a time when cross dressing was still considered a form of serious mental disease. Acting or looking  “metrosexual” back then could easily be met with hostility if not outright violence. But he wasn’t out to argue, convince or proselytize to anyone. He simply presented ingenious personas that were somehow believable, combined with relentlessly inventive music to infiltrate willing minds from the INSIDE. Once a person began toe tapping to one of his songs or subconsciously reciting his lyrics, a door to personal enlightenment opened. If you liked a Bowie song then at least some small part of you identified with him or whatever alter ego he was currently possessed by. Whether or not you or others thought he was weird began to matter less and less. Eventually, accepting his differentness helped you accept your own and made you feel as though maybe you weren’t so strange after all. Director Julien Temple recently said, “We should remember Bowie as a great human emancipator on the Bolívar or Mandela scale. An emotional liberator of people. He was the patron saint of the outsider, the uninvited and the misfit. All those lonely teenagers in each generation, unsure of who, or what they could possibly be – or become. In other words all of us.”

He encouraged and collaborated with countless others including John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, Freddie Mercury, Mick Jagger, Peter Frampton, Bing Crosby, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Luther Vandross, Cher, David Gilmour and Annie Lennox. Beyond breaking down barriers in the performance realm, perhaps David Bowie’s greatest gift was as human protagonist- offering to help anyone willing to listen to his music break down their own inner prejudices and preconceived notions about personal limitations,  expanding what they might actually think possible for themselves.

On behalf of the rest of the humans I’d like to thank you, Starman.


In tribute, here’s a live cover of Bowie’s “Heroes.” Please consider making a donation to the American Cancer Society in memory of David Bowie. Text HOPE to 20222 to make a $5 donation or give at

Click here to download: “Heroes” -Toadies Free David Bowie Cover Download