RIP David Bowie: Music’s Greatest Gateway Drug
by Adam Perry for Westword 1/12/2016
David Bowie always paid tribute to his older brother, most famously in “All the Young Dudes,” for changing his life as a teenager by turning him on to rock music and the Beat Generation. So it makes sense that Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars would become a musical gateway drug for many listeners—including me. When I was fifteen, my own older brother handed me a discarded, unopened copy of the 1972 Bowie classic—a Columbia House freebie he didn’t want. And it changed my life.
Yesterday as social media overflowed with tributes to Bowie in the wake of the British music legend’s surprising death due to cancer at age 69, I wondered why—even in an age when the deaths of rock icons such as Lemmy garner much-deserved flashes of social-media attention—it appeared that the widespread reaction to Bowie’s death was the most inescapable and emotional since perhaps Kurt Cobain’s suicide in 1994.
As I read post after post about how introductions to Bowie and his music influenced the trajectory of so many interesting people, I remembered hearing the sci-fi glam-rock of Ziggy Stardust as a teenager. Becoming a hardcore fan of Bowie, following the signposts in his lyrics and the fascinating evolution of his music from album to album and genre to genre, meant so much more than being a hardcore fan of other classic-rock musicians because it inevitably meant an education in music and literature outside of David Bowie himself. Not to mention an education in being an artist—or even a person—without limits. Read the rest of this article here.