The passing of a legend: David Bowie, 69
Legendary rock star David Bowie has died at the age of 69 after an 18-month battle with cancer.
Bowie is known for his astonishing, wide-ranging 40-year career as a singer, songwriter, record producer, actor, and painter while producing album after album that touched on different genres.
A statement was posted on the artist’s official social media accounts on Sunday: “David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18 month battle with cancer. While many of you will share in this loss, we ask that you respect the family’s privacy during their time of grief.”
David Bowie, cultural icon
Bowie had always been known as an innovator, his image constantly changing with his music. He made an impression on the music scene as the flamboyant, androgynous Ziggy Stardust with the hit single “Starman” during the glam rock era of the 70s.
Aside from his music, Bowie made appearances on the screen and the stage. He wowed critics in the title role of The Elephant Man in a Broadway production, as well as the alien Thomas Jerome Newton in the movie The Man Who Fell to Earth.
He also played the part of Jareth, the Goblin King, in Jim Henson’s movie, Labyrinth and was Martin Scorsese’s Pontius Pilate in The Last Temptation of Christ.
He had just released his latest album, Blackstar, last January 8, on his 69th birthday. Likewise, he was working with director Ivo van Hove and actor Michael C. Hall on a rock musical Lazarus in New York City before his death.
He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.
David Bowie and the LGBT
Bowie admitted in a January 1972 magazine interview that he was gay (or at least bisexual), complete with his orange-dyed hair and while wearing women’s clothing. This was five years after Britain had decriminalized homosexuality.
However, he later said this admission was a mistake and said he was a “closet heterosexual.”
Though Bowie’s image was constantly changing, his effect and influence was undeniable. Novelist and critic Rupert Smith said we shouldn’t take Bowie’s manifestations of sexual ambiguity in the 1970s the wrong way.
“Perhaps it was partly for show but ultimately I don’t think it matters what he was doing in his private life. He’s always been an actor,” Smith said.
“He clearly knew his way around gay culture in terms of its writing and music and visual art,” he added.
Smith noted that Bowie was a pioneer of sexual openness in Britain in the 70s as it was a long time before anyone came along in music who was unambiguously gay.
“More than anyone else, he blasted the closet-door off its hinges. So for that, I’ll always love him– but his position on the politics of sexuality is a conflicted one. If, like me, you’re a big Bowie fan, you just have to accept that,” he said.
The following song, “Lazarus”, is from David Bowie’s last album, Blackstar: