Most Strongly Supported’s readership skews pretty young — most people studying for the LSAT are college-age or thereabouts — so not all of you know about today’s topic. For those of you who do, get out your tissues. And for those who don’t, here’s a great opportunity to get familiar with a rock legend.
With that said, here’s today’s sad news: pop legend David Bowie died yesterday after an 18-month battle with cancer. He was only 69 — no spring chicken, but still too soon. To wit, he released his final album, “Blackstar,” this past Friday, his 69th birthday, and had recently collaborated on the off-Broadway musical “Lazarus,” a sequel to his groundbreaking 1976 film “The Man Who Fell to Earth.” No doubt, he would’ve continued to produce great music and entertainment for years to come had he not been cut down by The Emperor of All Maladies.
Bowie was a singer and songwriter, but he was so much more than that. Over a career that spanned nearly a half-century, Bowie reinvented himself time and again, shaking up and reordering popular culture as a result. He first attained recognition with Space Oddity (you might think of it as Ground Control to Major Tom), a hit in Britain that seized upon the zeitgeist of the Apollo moon landing that year.
He followed that up in the 70’s with hits on this side of the pond including “Starman,” “Changes,” “Young Americans,” and “Golden Years.” As mentioned above, he turned to acting during that time, playing the title role in “The Man Who Fell to Earth” and Joseph “John” Merrick in the stage play, “The Elephant Man.”
While plenty of 70’s rockers struggled to make the transition to the MTV age, Bowie’s star shone in the 80’s — perhaps brighter than in the 70’s. He turned out powerhouse tunes like “Let’s Dance,” “China Girl,” and “Under Pressure,” a collaboration with the rock band Queen. He played the Goblin King in the nightmarish 1986 children’s movie “Labyrinth,” and Pontius Pilate in the controversial 1988 film “The Last Temptation of Christ.”
Bowie was no stranger to controversy, having been accused of flirting with fascism and even giving a Nazi salute at a tour stop in 1976 after the release of his album “Station to Station.” (The evidence is a still photo, and Bowie insisted he’d merely been caught on film in mid-wave.) How much of it was performance art — he adopted different characters for different albums, The Thin White Duke being the totalitarian-minded star of Station to Station — and how much Bowie’s personal belief, will never be settled.
So, if you’re a longtime Bowie fan, take a moment to reflect today on what influence he had on you, and, if you don’t know much about Bowie, follow some of the links above. You’ll be glad you did.
Promise we’ll be back to the LSAT and all its glory on the blog this time tomorrow.