Music/fashion/film icon David Bowie succumbed to cancer Sunday at the age of 69, shocking the world. He reinvented himself so many times, it almost seems like this is just one more persona. He was living art, a chameleon who was light-years ahead of his contemporaries. In retrospect, he seemed immortal. Whether he was Ziggy Stardust or Jareth from LABYRINTH or the androgynous MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH, the Thin White Duke defined innovation, inspiring acts as varied as Kiss and Lady Gaga to take on different images and personalities.
Even with his movie star good looks, he was an eccentric who, though embraced by the mainstream, was always an oddity, so he appealed to outsiders and oddballs. He got us, and we got him. His trailblazing music ranged from adult contemporary to pop to soul to glam rock, giving us classics like “Let’s Dance,” “Fame,” “Golden Years,” “Space Oddity,” and “Under Pressure” with Queen, not to mention what is widely considered one of the best albums of all time, THE RISE AND FALL OF ZIGGY STARDUST AND THE SPIDERS FROM MARS.
His film roles were equally as varied, from the Japanese prisoner of war camp drama MERRY CHRISTMAS, MR. LAWRENCE to the musical ABSOLUTE BEGINNERS to the controversial Martin Scorsese classic THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST. That said, he didn’t shy away from genre, embracing science fiction, fantasy, and horror as a goblin king in LABYRINTH, a stylish vampire in THE HUNGER, a special agent in David Lynch’s twisted TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME, and, of course, as an extraterrestrial in THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH.
His creativity extends to his son, Duncan Jones, who has directed such films as SOURCE CODE, MOON, and the upcoming WARCRAFT, which is based on the wildly popular video game series.
Bowie was truly peerless. Like the name of the lead single, “Lazarus,” from his last album, BLACKSTAR, there is no death for him. He was never one of us. He was a beautiful, transcendental alien. He was and will continue to be ageless and timeless.
Listen to our thoughts on the Thin White Duke on the latest Famous Monsters Podcast.