DAVID BOWIE: The Next Week…
David Bowie left this planet on January 10, 2016.
Even though time has moved on, it still seems strange to refer to him in past tense. Especially since David Bowie was always a few steps ahead of us… always in the future. And he still is.
What is great about David Bowie is the influence he had on so many artists. The Rock ‘n’ Roll landscape would be vastly different today had he not come along. Thankfully, he never stayed in one place for too long – by the time everyone caught up to him, he had already moved forward. He was unpredictable, talented and meant so much to so many people.
His music inspired those who heard it. His music brought joy and hope. David Bowie mattered. In fact, he still matters and will always matter. We need more artists like David Bowie. Sadly, we lost the only one.
So, celebrate his memory however you see fit. But always remember that what he left behind is still here for us – and let it always inspire you.
We at Discussions Magazine sent out an invitation to musicians and music fans to share their memories of David Bowie. Reading these, there’s no doubt that Bowie left his mark. That is the power of music… and the power of David Bowie.
I’ve compiled these statements together without editing because I felt it was important to allow the writers to express themselves in their own words and in their own ways. Many of these fine people are musicians, but I didn’t want to exclude music fans from sharing their thoughts. I am first and foremost a music fan and I believe that everyone matters, whether you sit in your room and listen or stand on the stage and play.
Peace, love and David Bowie
Stephen SPAZ Schnee
“In the summer of 2002 some of the team at Super D (music distributor) was invited to the Area2 Fest at Irvine Meadows. Once we all got there we were taking backstage to meet David Bowie!! I remember thinking to myself, "Holy S, this is really going to happen, I'm about to meet one of my all-time favorite artists!" I suddenly became totally nervous! For the first time ever I was star struck! LOL! I remember my knees were shaking and I totally stumbled all over my words when I was introduced to him. I even had to ask my wife to have him sign my Ziggy Stardust cover for me!! I do have to say he was as cool as cool can be, took the time to talk to everyone, was not in a hurry, he had a smoke and hung out talking to us and even took a picture or two. He was a true class act...
Driving home tonight I put on Blackstar ... what a beautiful, haunting, dark, avant-garde jazzy at times, brilliant gift he left us. I'm saddened but feel blessed at the same time. RIP David Bowie.”
- Anthony Balboa (music industry veteran)
- Anthony Balboa (music industry veteran)
“There's been a lot of stories my friends have shared about actually meeting David Bowie. I never did but......I do have a story about NOT meeting him. I came of age a little late to see Bowie during the '70's, the first chance I had to see him was in 1983 on the Let's Dance tour. I was a senior in high school & for some reason me & my buddy Frank thought it would be a good idea to masquerade as children of the promoter, get ourselves a key to Bowie's hotel room & wait for our idol. Amazingly, this is exactly what we did! We dressed up, carried a briefcase to look more official (Frank's idea), got the key (!) & waited for David Bowie. For five hours!! We left a heartfelt letter & left & saw the show. I never thought that I'd be thankful to NOT meet David Bowie but thank goodness he didn't show! Not sure what we were thinking or what he would have thought. We were fanatics. Maybe, just maybe, he would have understood. Goodnight sir, yours was a most dignified life & exit.”- Ronnie Barnett (musician, The Muffs)
“David Bowie was the ultimate chameleon; you never knew what he was going to do next, both visually and musically. His influence on our culture at large, as well as on rock and pop bands, cannot be overstated. Like Frank Sinatra, he did it his way, and the world was much better off for it. May he rest in peace.”- David Bash (International Pop Overthrow)
“As a young teen, I was in a rock band. Our lead guitarist played a lot of Bowie songs and tried to get the rest of us to learn them. I remember our guitarist playing them and I was thinking, “what (the hell) is this”?... namely songs from The Man Who Sold the World album. Chord progressions and melodies that seemingly came from outer space. We played a lot of BTO, Eagles, Foghat, Deep Purple, Doobie Brothers (the popular top 40 stuff). The only song the rest of the band consented to (as far as a Bowie song) was “Suffragette City” (you could dance to that). Here was a man who was not afraid to wear a dress on the cover of his album, (although that cover was apparently banned at the time in the U.S.), to wear what was considered outrageous makeup, and wrote lyrics which represented his life. Years later, I learned of his brother who was in a mental institution, and the song “All the Madmen” is still heartbreaking. He did it all. Majestic performances of his concerts, pushing the envelope as an actor and (seemingly) fearless of critics. Always ahead of his time. His Reality Tour concert was incredible. A true pioneer who never stopped being creative until his last days on Earth. I hope my husband gets to meet him.”
- Laura Busch (musician, music fan)
"Ode to David.
The vigour of your slim fingers
which, with tensed tendons,
glide over the strings and the heart.
Extraordinary ecstatic vibrations
more important than the notes, or
rather, generating notes;
movements of the soul
without passing through the mind,
vehicle of the experiences of our spirit,
a universal spirit;
Sounds which, in concentric circles,
slide deep into our bowels.
And your voice--
a lament, a hymn,
an invocation, an elegy
of liquid honey.
You are both the dark night
and the white moon,
a primordial chant
And a future melody.”
- Caterina Ciuferri (music fan)
An excerpt from my 2015 interview with Martha Davis:
“SPAZ: You have a very unique songwriting style with interesting chord changes. Who influenced you most as a songwriter?
MARTHA: I was born in Berkeley, California and my mom loved music and had a big collection of 78s that I was mesmerized by. I remember being a little girl and sitting in front of the turntable and she’d have Igor Stravinsky’s “Rite Of Spring” and it was my favorite thing in the world. It was beautiful…but it terrified me. I just loved that. I think having Igor Stravinsky as my first impression of music may have skewed my chord progressions a little bit. (Laughs) Then I loved musicals. When I was a teenager, I got into Soul and R&B music. But then David Bowie happened and he encompassed everything I loved. Even though I sadly never hear his influence in my music, he is the reason I decided to get on stage and do this for real. I’d been playing guitar since I was eight and writing songs for myself, entertaining myself and finding solace in music – as we do – but when he came along, I thought, “Damn, that looks fun!” So let’s blame David!”- Martha Davis (musician, The Motels)
“I have always loved him. My Mom met him & lucky me I got to see him when he started Tin Machine. I could've touched him I was so close. I always had a closeness for him. He stood out & that's what I liked.”- Gina Dorio (music fan)
“There isn't much I can say without writing half a book about how I feel about David Bowie and how he affected my life. I think his death has affected about as many people as John Lennon's. Bowie changed the world just about as much as The Beatles did. Bowie was the first to inspire and expose a generation of Kooks, pink monkey birds, Queen Bitches and Oh! You Pretty Things. The Beatles spoke to a generation in the '60s and beyond and Bowie spoke to a generation in the '70s and beyond.
Purists can squawk all day about who was first to reach out to that audience but it really was Bowie that opened it all up. It's like arguing about who brought rock and roll to the forefront, Elvis or the many before him. Bowie broke down the last remaining walls that The Beatles and Elvis broke down. Indeed, Kurt Cobain's death affected a lot of people of his generation but remember, Kurt was a fan of Bowie. Bowie, like The Beatles, changed personas and music styles almost every album. Even up to his recent album which sounds like nobody else.
Yes, there is my old story of how I met Bowie in a hotel lobby in the summer of 1974 and got his autograph. The band that I was in at the time also had a photo taken with him wearing his casual new Thin White Duke but still meets Ziggy, look. There was no one else around in the lobby! No one knew who he was! The slide was lost a few years later and the photo is sadly long gone.
Later that evening after his show, Graham Elvis and I wandered the hotel after all of the hotel room parties that we had crashed, had ended and we met Bowie again (we were hanging with Mike Garson). We actually sat in Bowie's hotel room for 45 minutes and chatted with him for fifteen minutes or so while a small party went on around us. So surreal! Met him again briefly when he introduced Devo at Max's Kansas City to a roomful of fans and A&R honchos. My band Screams opened that show.
I know, I should write a book someday of my little rock and roll stories and encounters for anybody who might be interested.
Bowie's passing is all a shock and very sad and we should all just share Bowie memories and play, post and share Bowie music all day long. That says it all.”- Brad Elvis (musician, The Romantics/The Handcuffs/The Elvis Brothers/Screams)
“Thursday Night 1972.
I was living in a world that was black and white
I was looking for a spark to ignite my life
It was a Thursday night in 1972
There's a spaceman on the TV and my mind he blew
He crashed into our world, a blazing mirror ball
Creating waves of pure release, inside my head..and through it all
Flamed hair and wild guitar
Spaced out.. but not too far......
X”- Jerry T. Jones (musician, Glamweazel/One The Juggler)
“Let’s Dance was the first David Bowie record I bought. I knew “Fashion” thanks to the music video. “We are the goon squad and we’re comin' to town. Beep! Beep!” How fantastic is that? I had seen The Man Who Fell To Earth the August before at summer camp (yes, summer camp. Progressive). I was 13, going on 14. So, when the video and single for “Let’s Dance” arrived, I was ready to accept Bowie.
The opening eight bars of rush and release was hypnotizing. The driving drums, the stacked choral harmonies and insistent horns, the shimmering stereo guitars, the bluesy stings of Stevie Ray Vaughn, the gliding bass, all under the direction of Nile Rodgers’ steady hand. At least three hooks. Above all else, there was that voice: belting, crooning, shouting, whispering, rasping, talk-singing. That voice was doing everything I hadn’t heard before in a pop song. In one single. Love, desperation, declaration. This was cool. Suddenly, David Bowie was everything cool.
One day after school, in the spring of 1983, I took the Rapid Transit to the Terminal Tower and walked a few blocks through downtown Cleveland to a narrow record shop to buy my copy of the 45. That night, I poured over it and spun it incessantly. Play-after-play, I immersed myself in every funky beat. I transcribed the lyrics, my 8th grade mind trying to grasp the poetry. Then, I watched MTV constantly in hopes of seeing the gloved and golden-haired David Bowie singing in an Australian bar and his handsome Aboriginal co-stars dancing on a remote landscape. These kids even looked like me. That meant even I could be, should be, in the court of David Bowie.
“Let’s Dance” was sonic bliss and a gateway to the glory of Bowie’s catalog. It took another 29 years before I got to perform the song in a concert setting with a brass section and it was one of my favorite moments ever on stage. His influence on me as a musician and as a fan of music is incalculable. My love for him is enormous. David Bowie’s death has been bruising; but, I am working through the glacial sadness one album at a time, like so many of you.
I still have that vintage single, by the way. When I placed that funky 45 on the turntable the other night, my wife and I immediately heeded the call, just like the beautiful bronze couple in the video. We did the ‘80s step-touch and there was serious moonlight.”- Norman Kelsey (musician)
I cannot fathom a world without David Bowie. But here we are. I feel so lucky to have discovered him and his music at 6 years old. I can't imagine going through my teens not knowing anything about him.
To those out there who may wonder why David Bowie is so important to so many people, here's my own little breakdown.
First and foremost, the music was great. If you took away the visual aspect of any David Bowie project and were only left with the audio you were rarely, if ever, disappointed. From "Space Oddity" onward, he always managed to have the right sound at the right time. The arrangements were lush and/or gritty and perfectly suited the masterful songwriting. When I started writing and recording music of my own, I found myself revisiting Bowie's songs and wondering how one man could come up with a body of work that was so familiar and yet so different. There were nuances to his music that had never been applied to pop music previously. His knack for melody was impeccable. Hum any David Bowie song and you'll notice how swiftly he changes notes and how he shifts in and out of the major and minor scales in ways that seem downright alien.
Yes, the music was good. But there was also the image. Not the superficial, "looks cool on a tee-shirt" type of image making that dominates music culture, either. This was deeper than that. He dyed his hair an array of unnatural colours. David Bowie wore dresses. He wore makeup. He wasn't afraid to blur the lines. In 1972 David Bowie told Melody Maker magazine, and I quote, "I'm gay". This could have killed his career. Nobody in show business, let alone rock and pop music, would dare be so blunt. Even when Elton John came out in an interview a few years later, he didn't put it that plainly. However, Bowie only became more popular after these remarks. Think of what all the gay kids and misfits that got the shit beat out of them at school every day felt when they saw that quote. They suddenly had a hero. Someone they could identify with, and yet he was a rock star on top of the world.
There was an exciting and mesmerizing quality about him and his music that encapsulated all these social taboos and displayed them in a new and appealing light. Bowie's music seemed to have the power to pluck you up from your mundane world, skyrocketing your weary mind beyond the stars and into the Martian Universe of Ziggy Stardust. How many of those misfit kids would have become a suicide statistic had they never discovered David Bowie? Of course, the man who would become the Thin White Duke was far above the labels of "gay" or "straight". He simply loved to experience life.
Later on, in the 90s, he would state that his 70s persona was "a closet heterosexual". Bowie took his cue from The Beatles and never stopped evolving. A new Bowie album meant and a new look, a new sound. He was always at least 5 steps ahead of everyone else. The way his music seems to belong to the era in which it was made while still somehow being timeless has kept him a constant. Ch-ch-changes. David Bowie was 69 when he left the Earth he had fallen to. He went out on top.”- Jared Lekites (musician, The Lunar Laugh)
“Saw David Bowie’s Glass Spider Tour 1987 at Anaheim Stadium. Went with BFF concert buddy Jill Sjogren Hassett. We sat on the Club Level. Peter Frampton played guitar. It was a theatrical show with 5 dancers on stage choreographed by Toni Basil”- Lynn Levick (music fan)
(Setlist provided by Lynn Levick)
“As an English musician from Manchester, I would have to say not only his great songs influenced me growing up, but also his sincerity, compassion, style, sense of humour, and chameleon-like guise. I only saw him once in concert. A true Icon.
He was very charismatic and a true Englishman. It's difficult to choose a favourite song...but some would defo include... “Space Oddity,” “All The Young Dudes,” “Starman.” If I was pushed, I would probably chose... ‘Life On Mars.’”- Oscar Novak (musician, www.mandrakemanchester.com)
“Bowie was art and human expression in its purest form and, in this way, certainly the grandest statement ever made in the annals of popular music. He always sought new musical paths all the while revealing other facets of himself, never compromising his vision. May the Thin White Duke's spirit reverberate forever through the lattice of space and time. He was our Starman, he blew our minds.”- Mike Paulsen (music fan)
“When people ask me what it is that I do, I have a hard time explaining it. I usually say that I am a recording artist. I think the definition of that term means something specifically special to me. There are a few greats that use the recording studio as an instrument. They use sound to paint . They aren't afraid to push the boundaries of what that could do. They are risk takers. We lost one of the world’s most unique recording artists we have ever seen. I can honestly say that I'm not a fan of all of his work but the thing I loved the most was that he didn't care. He was going to find a new way to do things. And for that I respect the hell out of him. His records will continue to be studied. Thank you David Bowie.”- Andy Reed (musician, The Legal Matters/An American Underdog/solo)
I listened to a crapload of AM radio. I didn't have all that many experiences like that.
So. Bring it home. Put it on (the hit first).
“John, I'm Only Dancing” kinda scared me. It was also kinda sexy. Even though I didn't know what sexy was.
And that is what David Bowie is like to me.
Dramatic. Sexy. Lonely.
I mean, he changed not only his own music countless times, but, for a period in there, he changed the way everybody else played too. And movies. And television. A goddamn Jim Henson movie.
All good work.
Always, "Bowie is GREAT in that!" "God. That thing in Extras?"
And was never anything less than interesting. AND made a batch of songs this year which HAD to have been stressful to say the least. So, I guess we can add bad ass to the list as well.
Well done, sir.
We should all aspire to such things.
Thank you.”- Robbie Rist (actor, musician, producer)
"I am unable to top whatever these fine people have said, so I'll let Mr. Bowie say it himself. And these are words you really need to hear first-hand. This is just a a small sample and really the main reason why we are all here mourning the loss of this magnificent artist. If you buy anything Bowie-related, let it be this. It should be retitled 'Five Years That Changed Music' but I suppose that is already implied:
DAVID BOWIE/Five Years (12CD box)
I can't possibly add anything else after that!"- SPAZ (music fan)
“A couple of stories on Bowie
On October 28h 1995, I am sitting at home watching Game 6 of the World Series when a co-worker calls me up and asks what I am doing.
I tell him I am watching the World Series.
He asks me if I want to go and see a show. I ask him who is playing. He says Nine Inch Nails and David Bowie.
I tell him “Let’s go!”
I arrive at his house and we make the drive over to the Forum in Inglewood, CA. We missed the opening band but were able to catch all of NIN’s set. They were touring behind Downward Spiral. Trent (Reznor) was hanging off of some lights that were above the stage overhead. Their set was amazing to say the least.
In between set changes, the stage was completely black while music played and a star pattern appeared on the back of the screens on the stage.
When the set change was done, the music stopped, the lights went up and Bowie and his band were on stage and ready to do their set. The unfortunate thing about his set to many in the audience was that he was not doing a lot of his older songs and concentrated only on his more current songs. I would say midway through the set over ½ of the crowd had already left the Forum.
I also saw Bowie in 1983 at the same venue for the Serious Moonlight tour and 1990 at Dodger Stadium for the Sound + Vision Tour with Lenny Kravitz opening.”- Craig Swedin (music industry veteran)