David Bowie: In Memoriam

RIP Bowie. Photo Credit: Jimmy King from Bowie's Facebook page.
RIP Bowie. From the last photos of him before his Jan. 10 death after an 18-month struggle with an unidentified type of cancer. Photo Credit: Jimmy King from Bowie’s Facebook page.

“January 10 2016 – David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18 month battle with cancer. While many of you will share in this loss, we ask that you respect the family’s privacy during their time of grief.” — Bowie’s Facebook page.

Usually, I have a lot to say about topics, but this is tough. So I’ve decided to let others talk about the importance Bowie has had on them.

I’m starting out with Ezra Reich of notable synthpop duo ROOM8. He has had a particularly strong connection with a man who has had a massive impact on the world.

For one thing, when he sings he sounds a ton like Bowie. For another, he and his writing partner Nic Johns have a keen ability to tap the man’s art to make their own — take a listen to the song below to see what I mean.

“In honor of the passing of the greatest artist of our time, David Bowie, here is one of the rare ROOM8 songs that Ezra sang on,” the band writes. “We’ve been told it reminds people of Cat People and Labyrinth. Much Love To All.”

But there’s also the time Bowie did a spoken word thing for Tommy Hilfiger over a song Reich did with an old band more than 10 years ago.

“I feel a particularly sharp loss,” Reich said on his Facebook page yesterday. “My old band that I sang in… did a song for a radio campaign that Bowie spoke over for Tommy Hilfiger. I got it because of the musical and vocal overlap, so I always felt a strange familial like connection to him.”

“Labyrinth was an integral part of my childhood, as well as was ‘Ashes to Ashes’ from Scary Monsters — one of the first songs i felt early feelings of romance and intoxication to,” he said.

Here are some others who responded to my call for input:

Cover art for Bowie's 'Let's Dance.' The hit album featured the likes of "Modern Love," the title track, and "China Girl," a song he originally wrote for Iggy Pop's 'The Idiot.'
Cover art for Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance.’ The hit album featured the likes of “Modern Love,” the title track, and “China Girl,” a song he originally wrote for Iggy Pop’s ‘The Idiot.’ Photo from Discogs.

Dave Hedin (AKA synthpop artist Phantom Ride)
“What a legend. Had the honor of meeting him back in 2003, and I’ll never forget how nice and genuine he was, and how the room lit up when he walked in. That’s a memory I’ll never forget.”

Alex Karlinsky (AKA retrosynther Highway Superstar)
“My first encounter with David’s music was in junior high. I had this classmate who sat in the back of the classroom, and she had the lyrics for ‘China Girl’ scribbled on her desk. I was fascinated by them: They were strange and longing.

“I don’t think I’ll be able to lift the shroud of mystery from his music, and I’ll remain fascinated by it.”

Jahn Alexander of synthpop/disco duo Pleasure Curses
“David Bowie is synonymous with the word ‘icon’ in my head. As an icon, he is an entity that means so much to so many across the world. We forgot that the thin, pale, androgynous, liquid god with many faces was a mortal man. I am sad that man is gone and that I will never meet him.

“I am also happy that he was able to inspire artists and musicians like myself for so long. His life and life’s work is an example he left behind for us to stay curious and hungry for new ideas and methods of expression and that change is not something to fear. Thank you, David Bowie.”

VHS Glitch, synthwaver
“Bowie inspired me not only for his talent as a musician, songwriter, and composer, he taught the world that we can be more than what humans know and understand. He showed us that there are no limits.”

Daniel X. Belasco (AKA synthwaver Glass Apple Bonzai)
“David Bowie wrote the book that we all glean and scan with lustful eyes. Dog-eared pages, highlighted passages. Spine worn away from endless nights spent under dim light reading the Gospel of the Alien. Carving our futures.”

Jowie Schulner, dreamwaver
“Whether you like David Bowie’s music or not, he has taught us it is OK to be different.”

Lachi James, retroist
“Having grown up dancing in front of the television to videos like ‘China Girl,’ ‘Lets Dance,’ and ‘Fashion’, I was fascinated by his sound and swagger.

“When I was eight, I remember being obsessed with records like Scary Monsters and Young Americans listening intently for hours, trying to figure out all of the guitar parts on ‘Fame.’ The man was a true artist and someone who threw away the rule book of contemporary music.

“It’s incredible that a musician can transition and change as much as he did, and never alienate his fan base. There will never be another David Bowie, he was truly one of a kind. He has set a precedent for recording artists that will most likely never be exceeded. It really hurts to see him go, but I think we should all be grateful in that his music lives on in the hearts and minds of us all. Long Live the Starman!”

Matt Larson (AKA electronic artist d.notive)
“I think the most profound thing David Bowie instilled in me was the viability of pop-art as a valid musical enterprise. He never once compromised his artistic integrity, and still delivered infectious pop hooks that will be recited until the end of time.

“The most important lesson he offered was that authenticity and popularity were not, as a young impressionable kid would have thought, diametrically opposed in any way.”

There were notable postings about Bowie on social media, as well. For example, Echo Park Records, the management firm for the likes of Italians Do It Better, Todd Edwards and Jeppe posted crafted a memorial at their office (which is basically the Italians office) in Highland Park in LA.

Italians Do It Better memorial. Photo Credit: Echo Park Records.
Echo Park Records office in LA. Photo Credit: Echo Park Records.

“Just went down to our office, took my Bowie poster off the wall and put it in our front window and put some flowers and candles outside. Bowie on repeat on the office speakers all night long! Come by this week and pay respect to his genius. RIP”

I’ll be posting more tributes this week as I find them, or as they come to me.


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