I remember it well. On the January 10th 2016 I woke up early, put the news on and there it was. My partner at the time came downstairs and I tried to tell her; "David Bowie has died." As i did it my voice completely broke and I burst into tears. Surely David Bowie can't die? He's the kind of individual you think of as invincible. But then musicians and artists live on through their work and they never really die.
I can't really pinpoint where the obsession with David Bowie started. It may have been Labyrinth, but I think it was his music. I remember thumbing through my Mum and Dad's vinyls and a few musicians stood out. Blondie, The Jam, Madness and David Bowie. I think a seed was sown and as I matured I got into his music more and more. I specifically remember going to Woolworths and buying Reality in 2003. Not often spoke about but a fantastic album.
The man just oozes everything that is incredible; smart, erudite, multitalented, unique, confident, cool and extroverted. He embodies everything that I don't see myself as. That's not to be down on me, he's just something I'd love to be like but also hate to be at the same time. That's the anachronism of being an extroverted introvert.
I should probably talk about his music. There's one song that when the first notes hit I suddenly feel immense nostalgia and joy and is nothing but uplifting; Heroes. Used in the London 2012 Olympics it evokes nothing but happiness and uplifting memories and a gratitude to be alive at the same time as this man. Spoiler alert - this song is also used in the very final scene of Jojo Rabbit and gave me all of those emotions in an unexpected poignant end to such a perfect film.
But Bowie has many strings to his bow; rave, techno, ballads, folk, electronica, drum and bass, rock. You can basically "pick your Bowie." For me, the simpler, rock 'n' roll and him with a guitar are my favourite genres. Be it the drug-assisted sixties tracks (never forget The Laughing Gnome), the Ziggy Stardust era or any songs that are more of a traditional band arrangement; this is my Bowie.
That said, for some reason, I absolutely love China Girl and the Nile Rodgers-produced Let's Dance album which completely goes against the grain of my usual tastes.
It's hard to write about David Bowie without talking about everything he's done because all of it is perfect. I mentioned the 2003 album Reality and that was the time that an 18-year old me really started getting into his music but he didn't actually release another studio album for ten years after that so I had to spend that time getting stuck into his past. There was plenty there. Again, never forget The Laughing Gnome. Along with Rubber Band. I love the obscurity of his sixties EPs.
Fast forward to 2013 and we get The Next Day which does have one of my favourite Bowie tracks Valentines Day. A jazzy album at times and there's always been a jazz-handed, silent mime-artist at the forefront of his personality and it comes out in this and Blackstar.
Blackstar is David Bowie's final album and came out two days before he passed. It's beautiful, haunting, heartbreaking, poignant and nostalgic. He knew he was dying and he was clearly philosophical, happy that he had a great life and scared of death. It's such an honest, uncontrived album.
Blackstar and Bowie's death hit me hard. I think he's the only person that was a cultural icon that I idolised and I found it quite hard to process as I didn't realise it. His music was part of a number of musicians and artists that shape the way I think and really was the first person who was still alive when I began idolising them. You see most musical icons are already dead by the time we idolise them; John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison, I could go on. It's a rarity that somebody has an incredible back catalogue and life as David Bowie yet is still around adding to it up to the day that we lose them.
I've got nothing but gratitude to David Bowie for the hours upon hours of incredible music he's provided me. And one more thing, for the record, I pronounce it Bow-ee as in "Pow-wee."