On the 10th of January 2016, two days after his 69th birthday and the release of his 2016 album ‘Blackstar’, the legendary artist David Bowie passed away. Following a dynamic career, the musician’s top selling records which included ‘Fame,’ ‘Golden Years,’ ‘Let’s Dance,’ and No. 1 in 1983 ‘Dancing in the Street’ may be considered some of the most era-defining pieces for audiences globally; and has in turn united the nation in their adoration for his legacy.
David Bowie’s contribution to music, as well as culture, has been recognised by artists and public figures worldwide seeing artists such as Kanye West to comedians such as Ricky Gervais share their words of support. Likewise, fans and musicians from Brixton to the Hollywood Walk of Fame have all in turn united in the celebration of one of who may be considered one of the most iconic figures within the music industry, and a symbolic archetype of his era both in his art, lifestyle and spirit.
The era of ‘Rock’ which David Bowie contributed to may be considered having evolved historically. Bowie’s ability as an artist was to blur genres and formulate sub-genre’s within the rock age such as ‘Glam Rock’ and ‘Folk-Rock’ which may have offered an innovative contribution to the music industry as well as a culture which promoted self-expression. The artist’s influence on music as well as culture and fashion through his persona ‘Ziggy Stardust’ may have further demonstrated Bowie as an invaluable element of pop culture.
Bowie’s music may have also further succeeded in expanding these genres into a mainstream audience and may have also demonstrated to artists globally their ability to recreate music genres in ground-breaking ways within the music industry. This legacy may continue to encourage artists to take more innovative steps within the music industry to influence and change the culture of the era in which they exist, much like Bowie may be considered to have achieved.
Likewise, the end of David Bowie’s life may engage a new generation to the artist’s previous hits such as ‘Heroes’, ‘Ashes to Ashes’ and ‘Space Oddity’, as well as sparking an interest in his newly released 2016 album ‘Blackstar’. The new album’s Jazz feel may be considered explorational and with lyrics which may be considered to evoke musically his experience in living privately with cancer, thus, may be considered one of the most soul revealing and intimate works of art by the musician.
Bowie also brought to light the discussion of individual sexuality, with going on record to say he was bisexual. He was one of the very few in the Rock genres to publically admit this, and may have brought down social barriers using his music. He also had a sense of humour, often displaying this on chat-shows making the host and audience laugh with his mock fed up style of acting.
The passing away of David Bowie may have reemerged the musician as a ‘misfit’ who was able to promote individuality and innovation amongst society often through his outlandish persona. This may re-communicate a sense of acceptance and belonging through the celebration of the unique and the unconventional. Likewise, the artist’s ability to privately deal with his health may further emphasise his commendable character, who valued his personal life and exhibited a sense of strength beyond the public eye. It may also have the ability to open a discussion surrounding music’s ability to reflect, influence and define an era in which Bowie demonstrated through a ground-breaking culture of creativity and bold identity, both culturally and musically.
How may the legendary David Bowie’s life reflect a new interpretation of the era of ‘Rock’?