I remember my mother dancing to David Bowie’s songs in the living room of our old apartment back in the 1980s.
In my eyes, Bowie was a guy who wore glittery spandex outfits and makeup, who could sing really nice songs, although I couldn’t understand why he spoke of outer space so much.
I had no idea who Ziggy Stardust was, and I was too young to bother understanding what Aladdin Sane meant, but that guy with a lightning bolt on his face certainly caught my fancy.
When the film “Labyrinth” was shown, however, Bowie became more significant as the Goblin King whom I feared and was fascinated with at the same time.
That’s what’s special about David Bowie.
He makes a mark and commands respect whatever it is that he does. Even that New York City Police Department mugshot taken in 1976—the Thin White Duke himself, apprehended for possession of marijuana—looked pretty cool.
His flamboyant and androgynous personas created such an impact that celebrities and other artists have dressed in homage to his influence even to this day.
And to an extent, Bowie’s pansexual image paved the way for gender neutrality.
If the term “triple threat” was coined to describe a multi-talented artist, Bowie was more than that: singer, songwriter, music producer, trained dancer, film and theater actor, painter. He was an artist in every sense of the word. It seemed so effortless for him, it was almost surreal.
He hopped from one genre to another—and pulled it off successfully. Even if you’re not a fan of his work, you have to give him credit, as even Beck, Kurt Cobain and Billy Corgan felt the need to cover his songs.
Then there were the films, from the well-loved fantasy (“Labyrinth”) to suspense-horror (“The Hunger” and “Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me”), and even a satirical comedy (“Zoolander”) where he plays himself.
You don’t even have to look that far. The ’90s kids have “Clueless,” which used Bowie’s song “Fashion” in the scene where Cher flips through her wardrobe. The younger generation has “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” where Emma Watson suddenly finds the urge to stand on a moving vehicle because “Heroes” was playing on the car stereo.
“Guardians of the Galaxy,” on the other hand, has “Moonage Daydream” in its soundtrack, and “Starman” hits the spot in “The Martian.”
Expect Bowie to make a grand entrance Filipino music fans and performers pay tribute to the consummate artist and an unforgettable, quiet exit. Nobody, except for close kin, knew he was battling cancer before passing away on Jan. 10. His death came two days after the release of his new album, “Blackstar.”
News of his passing came as a shock to many people, including the musicians he worked with on “Blackstar,” because they said he didn’t look ill at all.
To his legions of fans, Bowie was the consummate artist. To others, his songs were a reprieve from a horrible day at work, the extra push to just hang in there. He was an inspiration whose influence was so immense that it led to bigger hopes and the fulfillment of even bigger dreams.
David Robert Jones may be dead, but David Bowie lives in the hearts of people who have been touched and inspired by his work. InquirerSuper presents a collection of sentiments from Bowie fans, local artists and musicians.
LIKE LOSING BEETHOVEN
Denise Manahan,Marketing manager, JB Music Philippines
Initial reaction: Palpitations. Not even Kurt Cobain’s passing gave me that. Scott Weiland and Whitney Houston sadly dug their own graves, Michael Jackson was like the moon landing—not a fan, but you’d check it out. Losing David Bowie is like losing Beethoven in our time.
David Bowie fangirl moment: “Blue Jean” music video on RPN 9. Skinny white male, makeup, cool song. I was then a very impressionable five year old.
Favorite song/album/film and why: “As The World Falls Down” (“Labyrinth” soundtrack). 1) “Labyrinth” is a film I will pass on to my grandkids; 2) I was hardly into boys when the movie came out, but the song evokes a feeling of being in love. For something that isn’t palpable to make you feel that way is truly magical.
How has Bowie influenced you? That you can have quirks, passion and class all at the same time.
WHY THERE’S TEAM MANILA
Jowee Alviar, Co-founder, Team Manila Graphic Design Studio Inc.
The news of his passing came via a message from my wife. I was in a project meeting that time and read it after.
When I was young, my brother was into record collection and watching MTV. It was during that phase when I was introduced to Bowie’s music.
In college, I joined art competitions to challenge myself and my creativity. One of those I joined was sponsored by the music label BMG for a Bowie album, “Outside.”
I ended up winning the national prize and was the representative for the international finals, eventually getting the top prize.
The prize was a scholarship grant to any school of my choice.
I pursued my Masters in Graphic Design at the California Institute of the Arts. After that stint, I was inspired to put up Team Manila with Mon Punzalan to promote graphic design in the Philippines. The rest is history.
DIVING INTO ‘HUNKY DORY’
Joyce Samaniego, 30-something single mom of two
Initial reaction: This MUST be a hoax! I quickly scrolled through Facebook, feeling my heart sink as I read more and more pages that reported his passing.
How do you feel about it now? I never thought it would be possible to live in a world where David Bowie no longer made magic.
David Bowie fangirl moment: My aunt came home from the US with a VHS tape. On the cover was what looked like a princess searching for her prince. Boy, was I wrong about the plot. But by the end of the film, I was captivated by the antagonist of the story.
Favorite song/album/film and why: “Labyrinth” will always be my favorite because it was responsible for my David Bowie awakening. I can quot ealong and sing-along to all of Jareth’s lines and songs. But “Hunky Dory” was my first serious dive into his music. So many catchy, infectious songs.
How has David Bowie influenced you? Watching David Bowie through the years helped me accept that there are many facets to who I am, some of which people won’t like, and that’s just fine. They can f–k it. I’m going to have fun with my life.
LIKE A PERSONAL DEATH
Quark Henares, Film, TV, commercial and music video director, DJ, schoolteacher
Initial reaction: I was on a call at work, and the minute I put my phone down, I saw all these tweets saying, “David Bowie RIP.” I stood up and went to the table of my co-workers with taste, totally shellshocked, and went, “Bowie’s dead?!” They all looked at me with sad eyes and a nod. I had to sit down.
How do you feel about it now? It’s still shocking. Bowie is one of those people you never thought would die, and unlike someone like Lou Reed, I didn’t hear anything about him being sick. I was talking to my friends Wanggo and Tals about him just the day before. I saw this awesome gif of drawings of Bowie through the years and sent it to them. We talked about his new album, and the “Blackstar” video. David Bowie isn’t past tense. He’s still shaking sh-t up.
David Bowie fanboy moment: David Bowie is that rare artist you just keep rediscovering. Like most people my age, I discovered and became a fan with “Labyrinth.” People would say, “David Bowie is starring in this movie,” and I had no idea; all I knew was there was this cool guy who was Jareth the Goblin King. Then, as a little kid, I would listen to NU 107 and hear stuff like “Space Oddity,” “China Girl,” and “Let’s Dance,” and it was only later that I found out all those songs were by one guy. That’s what’s great about Bowie. You have this larger-than-life persona, but when you get down to brass tacks, the songs are really f–king good. I didn’t get into all the weird stuff he was doing until I saw “Velvet Goldmine” in the late ’90s. I was really more a fan of the music than the fashion and characters.
Favorite song/album/film and why: My favorite, favorite song of his is “Modern Love.” It’s just such so perfect and happy and makes me dance. I always have to put a Bowie song on when I spin, and if it’s not “Modern Love,” then it’s “Let’s Dance” or “Rebel Rebel.” There was a time I would put “Under Pressure” on all the time and sing at the top of my lungs for two months straight. Other faves always change, but after he died I was listeningto him on Spotify and I started crying when “Starman” came on. It’s probably the last of his songs that affected me. I really loved that Starman montage in “The Martian.”
Filmwise, I think the best role for him was as Nikola Tesla in “The Prestige,” funny enough. It was perfect, enhanced in part by the fact that Christopher Nolan is such a Bowie fan. “Labyrinth,” of course, and the AndyWarhol role in “Basquiat.”
My favorite, however, has to be his short role as Phillip Jeffries in “Twin Peaks.” Still one of my favorite movie scenes in history. I should also take this moment to say how perfect a match cinema and Bowie are. Whether it’s the aforementioned “Starman” montage, that beautiful scene of Frances Ha dancing in the street to “Modern Love,” how “Heroes” plays into “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” or the very ending of “Dogville” with “Young Americans,” his music is so cinematic. Even the soundtrack of “The Life Aquatic” with Steve Zissou was comprised mostly of Bowie covers by Seu Jorge.
How has David Bowie influenced you? Bowie is a consummate artist, one of the greatest creatives we have in this age. He was unafraid of taking his music to other places: telling stories, creating characters, making films and all these amazing music videos. He was also doing it at a time when nobody was doing that sort of thing. He was controversial and dangerous, and time has taught us that that’s what he needed to be at the time. Music videos like “Jump They Say” and “Survive” were super influential to me as a music video director, and his fearless approach at creating without boundaries is something I always aspire to.
Myrene Academia had this status message shortly after Bowie’s death: “We are going to mourn for a while. And then we’re going to go on and keep our freak flags flying. Because that is what he paved the way for.” That pretty much says in three sentences what I’ve been trying to say with all this.
When Bowie died, it felt like a personal death, like someone close to you just suddenly passed away. And then I looked at my Facebook and Whatsapp groups and Twitter feed and my heart wanted to explode because I saw all these people I’ve become close to—bandmates, co-workers, peers, friends—mourn. He was an outsider, he will always be an outsider. And he brought all us outsiders together.
BOWIE’S ROCK ‘N’ ROLL SPIRIT
Nathan Azarcon, Musician
I thought he was immortal.
Miggy Matute, Bassist, Blue Jean Junkies; editor, Radio Republic
Initial reaction: Shock.
How do you feel about it now? I think it’s too early to absorb how I feel about his passing.
David Bowie fanboy moment: The 1972 album “Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” was the first Bowie album that I heard. I fell in love with the music instantly and now, 20 plus years later, I still listen to it regularly. If you haven’t seen the DVD of the Ziggy Stardust concert, you gotta get a copy and digest everything.
Favorite song/album/film and why: It’s impossible to pick a favorite Bowie song or album or film. When one is a fanatic of an artist who has accomplished so much, how do you merely pick one? Bowie had a career that spanned 50 years.
How has David Bowie influenced you? I wouldn’t say that Bowie has influenced my life and person to the point where everything I am is an expression of his work, but I really dig his rock ’n’ roll spirit and incredible songwriting skills. His ability to transform in order to express his moods also inspires and often helps me understand my different emotions. Put it this way: Bowie’s music gets me through a lot of tough times. It also helps me celebrate bliss and freedom!
NOBODY SOUNDED LIKE HIM
Myrene Academia, Musician
Initial reaction: I couldn’t believe it. I was just listening to “Blackstar.”
How do you feel about it now? A deep sense of loss. Like a cultural beacon went out.
David Bowie fangirl moment: I was probably 13 or 14 and a huge fan of Top 40 radio. So between the “Under Pressure” single and the “Let’s Dance” album. Nobody sounded like him. I just backtracked from there.
Favorite song/album/film and why: Might be “Under Pressure,” because that was the first one I really liked. Honorable mentions: “Heroes,” “Modern Love” and “Little Wonder.” Really, there should be a favorite for every Bowie you encounter.
How has David Bowie influenced you? Bowie was never afraid to start all over again and do something he hadn’t done before. That takes a lot of courage and smarts.
Rico Blanco, Singer-songwriter, musician
I am saddened by the passing of a great artist, one who has had an immense influence on my craft and the manner in which I share it. I cannot imagine where I would be as a performer and craftsman without him. David Bowie has given me so much courage, inspiration, and imagination all these years, and he will continue to do so, wherever in this universe he may be.