David Bowie. Geez. While Lemmy seemed immortal, Bowie seemed indelible. Like a part of the landscape. I’d be lying if I said I was a huge fan, but I always admire his aesthetic and his sheer innovation. I, like so manyother young people in the West have memories of listening to him with my dad in the car and feeling freed by his perpetual freak image. This is a man who revolutionized the music industry, not just through some incredible tunes but also a business acumen that changed lives. Perhaps no other man in the history of the business has been able to change the entire thing as much as Bowie did. He lived what I try to write about on this site – and proved that no matter what, if you can embody your weirdness and inner intellect you too can make a difference.
What blows me away about Bowie is not just his far reaching influence, but the way he was able to assume multiple personalities to attack the music industry from every possible angle. Beyond that – he wasn’t afraid to reinvent himself every few years in order to prove that he was the real deal. Bowie represents a lot more than just Ziggy Stardust, the Goblin King or any of the countless other personas that he took on. He represents what it takes to really succeed in he modern music industry. From a marketing perspective the man was a genius and proved that you can create truly great art while simultaneously making yourself into a highly marketable commodity. Be it creating his own film and iconography or pioneering the field of music licensing the man perfectly embodied the can-do attitude of the new school of the music industry and needs to be taken as a veritable prophet.
Now you might be saying, “Well Bowie had millions of dollars to fund his projects and when he came up it was in the peak of the industry anyway!” While this is definitely a valid point if you view the late 60s as the peak of the industry (I don’t, but that’s a story for a different day) Bowie wasn’t doing too good. Yeah he had Space Oddity but then he disappeared for three years before coming back as Ziggy Stardust. What we don’t appreciate enough though is how revolutionary Ziggy Stardust was, yet despite that, it fit nicely into his entire aesthetic and represented the eternal power of androgyny and what can happen from pushing the boundaries of the music industry.
Bowie understood one of the core concepts that drives this whole blog – you don’t need to ask permission, you don’t need to apologize or make compromises for other people. The only way you are going to succeed is if you make your specific vision your number one priority and work with others to make it happen. Bowie understood that while maybe this didn’t have to be the case all the time and you could collaborate to build a better tomorrow, an unwavering dedication to the end goal is vital if you want to get anywhere in this business. As we see now – constructing his death was his true end goal.
And let’s be real, the way the man orchestrated his death was incredible – it was a down to the minute operation with everything planned out precisely in advance. It speaks to the inner peace Bowie must have had to structure the end of his life this way. I think that speaks to the sheer quality of the artist we are talking about here. Bowie was a man who managed to bring a degree of nobility and class even to the end of his existence. I think that says quite a bit about not just the man, but the sheer potential that this kind of art can have – even in the twenty first century. Sure – he had a profile, but it was a profile based off of half of a century of hard work and revolutionary ideas, after a career that long it’s hard not to take notice when the man makes his last breath a key part of his art.
Long story short, Bowie was one of the people who most defined cool in the twentieth century and whose impact on the culture is inestimable. The thing is, people like him are once in a century geniuses who come so far ahead of their time, dropped onto earth seemingly by the gods to help accelerate us. This was a man who ran on par with William Blake or John Milton, a man who forced us to confront the weird realities of humanity and embrace the volatile world of the music industry. He changed just about everything and the world still hasn’t caught up with him. Bowie provided a ray of hope in a twisted and forgotten landscape and when he died he made sure that his art came to the conclusion that it had for so long deserved.