David Bowie, whose death after a long battle with cancer has just been announced, was a creative genius with a unique talent for constantly breaking the mould. He was also clearly a man of inordinate intelligence with a fierce devotion to privacy that marked a refreshing change to the norm in the world in which he existed.
I remember seeing him live in concert back in 1987, during his Glass Spider Tour. It was at Roker Park, Sunderland FC’s old ground, and involved a spectacular stage show consistent with Bowie’s reputation for pushing boundaries with his music and performances.
Of the countless iconic songs he wrote and performed, Space Oddity is my personal favourite. It was ahead of its time in its arrangement and with lyrics that were sufficiently cryptic to allow us to extrapolate our own meaning, despite being written to coincide with the Apollo moon landing in 1969.
Bowie also took up the odd role in movies, though never with the same success as his music. However the following scene from Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence (1983) is particularly powerful, depicting man’s inhumanity to man and the power of the human spirit.
There will be countless obituaries produced in response to the news of his passing, but none I think that will come close to representing him as well as the huge body of work he leaves behind. His loss to music and culture is mitigated somewhat by that body of work.