(photo credit: REUTERS)
David Bowie was the first modern rock star. Elvis had the moves and the raw sexual allure, The Beatles had the hair, the guitars and the hysteria, but Bowie took all of it and fast forwarded into the future.
Already accomplished as a quirky pop/folkie tunesmith with early albums like Hunky Dory (and his signature tune “Changes”), Bowie changed the world of rock with his landmark 1972 Album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, which always falls near the top of the best rock albums of all time.
In addition to killer songs that combined electric crunch, melody and lyrical intelligence, he introduced to the long-hair-and-jeans playing field a sense of theatrics, drama and outrageousness that had been previously only hinted at by fellow frontmen like Mick Jagger.
David Bowie lands in Israel for his show in July, 1996 (photo credit: ALON RON/ ISRAEL SUN).
Shedding personas and styles like a change of clothes, Bowie constantly reinvented himself with painted faces, orange hair, shirtless sexual ambiguity, and three-piece suits, all the while reflecting the ever-changing face of his music.
He effortlessly morphed from the foppy warbler of the ’60s to the Diamond Dogs rock god of the early ’70s; the thin white duke soul man of the Young Americans period; the stark, angular electronics of his late 1970s-Berlin years that produced the epic Heroes; the blockbuster hit maker of the 1980s Let’s Dance-era, and on and on through his latter-day role as benevolent elder statesman.
He was the one artist who united leather-jacketed punks, platform-shoed glitter rockers, pop divas, street-corner buskers and hip hop outlaws under his all-encompassing banner.
There’s no way that latter-day spectacles like Madonna, Lady Gaga or Kanye West would have arrived at their public guises without the pioneering path that Bowie forged.
To his credit, when the quality of his musical output began to falter in the 1990s, Bowie stepped back and became a sidelines observer until he felt he had something new to say.
His well-received 2013 comeback The Next Day and the brand new Blackstar, released just days before his death, were like warm reunions with a friend who had been out of touch for too long.
Even though he was part of so many lives for so many years, we never really knew who David Bowie was. But from the dozens of essential songs he left behind that touched our souls, he helped us discover ourselves.