• stickybeak

    “The truth is, of course, is that there is no journey.
    We are arriving and departing, all at the same time.”


  • Wait…what? We were just talking about his new album setting a new stage! And now…gone? I guess, if you’re going to go, that’s a rock star way to do it.

    Bowie has danced around my life for ages. My sister would put on his music now and then, his videos would pop up on VH1, and he’d be referenced in media…but, my first real encounter on my turf was through his appearances with Reznor: I’m Afraid of Americans and Im Deranged (appeared on the soundtrack of Lost Highway). Hell, I saw Velvet Goldmine before i heard Ziggy Stardust.

    Bowie’s presence can’t be summed up just by his work. It’s also the people he influenced, and echoes of Bowie still come through American pop and rock.

    Fuck. It’s going to be a different world without him kicking around.

    • Yeah, the news came out late enough last night so that my response was, “I’m the one awake and able to write this, and there’s so much to say, and crap.” I knew someone had to write this. And I saw the tour with NIN, and I was so angry at all those stupid teenagers (I was a teenager myself), walking out when Trent Reznor was done with his part of the show.

  • Son of FilmFlamMan

    If David Bowie can die, what hope does the rest of humanity have?

    • washington

      He’s just gone back to his home planet.

  • pico79

    The official information is “eighteen-month battle with cancer,” but this is the first I’d known

    I’m pretty sure they kept it hidden from the press – there had been rumors about his failing health in 2013 that his publicist squashed.

    But get this: in the 18 months since he learned his diagnosis, he put out a new album, helped usher in a stage musical, filmed a bunch of videos, etc. It’s like he realized his time was limited and rushed to get everything in his head out before he left. He released his latest video just four days ago (fittingly: “Lazarus”). That’s a hell of an artistic credo: trying to leave us as much of himself before his time ran out. Goddamn.

    • The word “courageous” was used in the official statement. Normally, I just remember the famous Onion article making fun of that word in this context. Today, I cannot. Living his life to its fullest and under his own terms while facing the end takes courage.

    • qjtbailey

      It honestly reminds me of Akira Kurosawa’s Ikiru the more that I think about it. I guess life imitates art after all.

    • Klep

      Christ, accourding to his biographer he suffered 6 heart attacks in the past few years in addition to his cancer. And he still managed to put out an album that sounded as great as anything he ever did.


      • pico79

        Like a boss. It’s hard not to be in awe of that kind of grand exit.

        • washington

          It really is the perfect act of performance act from the modern master of it. Not even Wilde nor Mishima perfected death so well.

          • pico79

            You could even say he pulled off what Mozart failed to do (not that I’d trade his incomplete Requiem for anything, but still.)

  • I lived for almost 18 years without having listened to much of Bowie’s music, but once I finally did, I never looked back. Glad I could appreciate him at least for a little while when both of us were here.

    Pretty sure I’m gonna spend the rest of January re-listening to all his albums and revisiting the Bowie Corner. Rest in peace you beautiful alien.

  • News Nayr

    I remember just three years ago when I was artistically illiterate and I saw the news of Bowie’s return and thought it looked really weird and something I was not at all interested in. 23 albums later (still haven’t listened to Tin Machine II and Buddha) and I’m almost crying. Rest in peace you beautiful rebel.

    • Dan Abnormal

      DEFINITELY listen to Buddha of Suburbia, one of his most underrated gems.

      As for Tin Machine II…..well, there’s a really good EP buried in there. And, spoiler alert, they don’t include the songs sung by the drummer.

  • In looking at the postings at AV Club and the NY TImes – both will most likely have much longer obits later – I was focused on his career in music. I didn’t actually remember he was in Labyrinth (a film I like and that many I know, including my wife, adore). His acting career always seemed to be disconnected from his music. And yet there he was in a role that was perfect for him, that played on his looks and style and talent so well. A rewatch might be in order.

    Rest well, David. Condolences to his family and friends and fans.

    • washington

      Though The Man Who Fell to Earth basically functions as a Ziggy Stardust movie.

    • DJ JD

      He was also Pontius Pilate in Last Temptation of Christ and Nikola Tesla in The Prestige. Among his other talents, he had a knack for being a (stunt?)casting surgical strike.

      • washington

        His role in The Hunger also probably applies.

      • Add in his performance as Andy Warhol – his artistic second cousin, I would suggest – in Basquiat.

        • If what his ex-wife Angela says about their time with Warhol in her book is even half true, it was pretty much inevitable.

      • “You understand what has to happen now.” Such a quiet and terrifying Pilate. He’s been doing this for a long, long time.

      • I thought he was the best part of The Prestige, but then, I didn’t like that movie once.

        • DJ JD

          I liked it a lot, but it’s a cold, bitter pill, no question. I thought he was the best thing in it, too.

  • Roboplegic Wrongcock

    I’m still processing everything. It doesn’t feel real. It feels like a friend has died.

    I just felt I should post this video. Blackstar was an album tinged with death, and the news just makes the reasoning all the more obvious. He knew. One only has to look at the final video for the aptly named “Lazarus”. He turned his final days into the purest form of artistic expression in a way only he could. And that’s why, even at the end of his life, he was one of the best artists to ever live.

    I’m crying. Goodbye, Starman.


    • washington

      I’m curious, does anyone know why he has that head wrapping in all of his videos for this album?

      • There are parts of the “Blackstar” video where he’s not wearing it.

        • washington

          Same in this one. I’m curious why he’s wearing it at all.

  • I have no words. What a loss.


  • washington

    And of course one of his songs helped define one of cinema’s best moments.


    • GrieverDeHocus

      I did this in my house this morning before work and it felt right.

  • qjtbailey

    The last time I cried at music news was when R.E.M broke up. I was literally listening to Blackstar when I heard the news, and I fell apart. I’m too devastated to think coherently.

    Goodbye, David. Safe travels on your journey home.

    • Roboplegic Wrongcock

      Well, let me say happy birthday, anyway!

      • qjtbailey


      • washington

        Yes, and may its other elements compensate for this one’s lack of merriment.

    • Son of Griff

      Hoping the rest of your day goes better.

    • Well, you share a birthday with Naomi Judd, so that’s . . . no help at all, really. I hope you have a better one than it started.

    • Happy Birthday! Now you have an excuse to celebrate your life and David Bowie’s!

  • Not David Lynch

    Oh no. Don’t say it’s true…

  • Bowie’s music was never my favorite, but he was always so unique and strange that I’m still glad someone like that existed and did what he did. He’s a singular force in pop culture, and he deserves to be missed.

    • See, this is much classier than someone on another site who said, “I thought his music was rubbish and don’t get the appeal, but he’ll be missed, I guess.”

      • I don’t get it; why piss on everyone like that, especially the grieving? And to think that I was worried that my comment would be too harsh.

        • Oh, and now, he’s saying that he was just being respectful by giving his true opinion. Which is a lie. Being respectful is shutting the hell up if you’re going to dump all over everyone.

  • Shit, what a thing to wake up to. Thank you for your eloquent words, @Gillianren

    • You’re quite welcome. It’s kind of become my job around here, I guess, which at least is balanced by the other.

  • GrieverDeHocus

    When I was 14 and did not know what to do with myself, Ziggy Stardust happened to end up in my hands and something like hearing “Oh no love! You’re not alone” at 2 AM before you are supposed to throw down behind the dumpsters at school the next day made things easier.

    You can smile through the blood.

  • In one of William Gibson’s novels, David Bowie appears as an avatar and guide to the world. (“Because of a lawsuit, they had to change the color of one of his eyes. Why only one, she wondered.”) That’s who he was, someone eternal who was part of another world and giving us the opportunity to join. I can buy, say, Lou Reed being mortal. Not Bowie, though.

    • Ruck Cohlchez

      Man, that was almost exactly my reaction, down to the “Lou Reed, sure, but Bowie?” I assumed this news would eventually have come in a format closer to: “BREAKING: BOWIE ANNOUNCES HE HAS ‘COMPLETED PROJECT EARTH MUSIC’, ASCENDS INTO SPACE LIVE”.

  • Bowie was a fixture in my life, mainly because my much older siblings listened to him, and therefore he was part of the sonic fabric of my existence from the very beginning. And I made sure to do the same for my kids. Two CDs (yes I still use the CD player in my car) that always get play on family road trips are the Beatles #1 hits, and Bowie’s Greatest Hits from ’69-’74. My oldest son, in particular, already has a favourite Bowie song (Space Oddity).

    It’s the way it should be.

    Bowie’s desire to experiment with identity and gendered norms makes him something of a stand-in for all of humanity, which is probably why he’s being mourned by so many. His willingness to embrace the fringes and engage in so much re-invention means that, at one time or another, anybody who loves music and has struggled with their identity has been drawn to his style. It didn’t hurt that his music is amazing, catchy, and somehow always seemed to either predict or improve on what would capture the public’s imagination. In short, it’s hard not to love his music to a certain degree, and it’s impossible not to sympathize and/or look to him as a role model for his search for who he is, since all of us do this many times during our lives. He just gave that all too human process a flare that is irresistible.

  • Smilner

    I didn’t want to go in on the AVC comments section. I just feels like a morass in things like this, and while collective grieving is important, this also feels like a very personal time for everybody.

    This one hurts. I’ve been trying to rationalize why this one seemed to hurt so much. People die all the time, and our heroes, role models, and the people who have shaped who we have become pass regularly. That’s just how it is with those movers and shakers, who are almost inevitably older than we who look up to them.

    What sets Bowie apart is how vital he remained. Some of us will surely pop in Lou Reed’s Ecstasy, or thumb through HST’s Hey Rube!, but Bowie consistently measured up to himself, album after album. With Bowie, we aren’t just mourning what we lost, we are also coming to terms with a future that will now never materialize. Every thing Bowie has done has left us wondering, “What will he do next?” This is the first time when we already know the terrible answer.

    • David Bowie being gone is like Jim Henson being gone. I said this elsewhere, but it’s like there is a gap…a hole in the shape of the person, who’s art uplifted and helped people by celebrating weirdness and showing that one can make the world a better place by embracing that weirdness and sharing it.

      • Yes, this. A good thing for all of us that we have that one moment of weirdness they shared.

    • Greil Marcus had a line in his Elvis obituary; I felt it when Michael Jackson died and I feel it now: “When history is personified, and the person behind that history dies, then history itself is no longer real.” There was this way in which Bowie embodied something about modernity–the way, as @glorbes:disqus said, his experiment–his play, really–with so many norms, gender, music, sexuality, was part of all of our lives in this age. What’s it like now to have “that David Bowie feeling” in a world without him?

  • Dan Abnormal

    There have been many artists who have meant so much to me and contributed so much to culture, but none, in my eyes, came close to matching Bowie in my estimation. Has any artist had an artistic hot streak like the kind Bowie had from 1970 to 1980, from Man Who Sold The World to Scary Monsters, arguably the greatest streak of original music crafted by any musician in rock?

    Bowie is also special to me, for it was due to Elizabeth Lerner’s Bowie Corner that I signed up for a Disqus account and became a part of this close-knit community of Dissolve and Solute commenters. Ever since that day I first commented, my time on the Dissolve and Solute boards have been filled with conversations both educational and edifying, both guffaw-and-tear inducing. This is my own family away from my own family, and the reason that this was so? Bowie.

    So I’ll just leave this chorus from my favorite Ziggy Stardust track as my goodbye and Godspeed to David Robert Jones of Bromley:

    “And he was alright,
    The band was altogether,
    And he was alright,
    The song went on forever,
    He was awful nice,
    Really quite out of sight.”

  • The Narrator

    It’s probably going to be too painful to watch for a little while, but I have to post it; my favorite Bowie video, one of my favorite music videos of all time.


  • clytie

    David Bowie will always be my favorite musician/actor.

  • I’m awfully sad about this, and the shared sadness that you’ve expressed here Gilleran hits it right on because I don’t have nearly the experience or comprehension of Bowie’s career as anyone else but all of the mourning and photos I’m seeing today genuinely bring tears to my eyes. But he’s just an icon who has always existed, even if I didn’t pay attention to it and now I’m sad that I didn’t take the opportunity to discover more about David Bowie and his career while he was alive. So I’m going to take this opportunity today to listen to more of his music, seek out more of his filmography, and learn more about him.

    • I think the last death that powered so much Facebook was Leonard Nimoy. So, you know, I’m going to go ahead and write about Nichelle Nicols for Sunday!

  • I spent a bit of my day today looking over the various tributes and I was really taken aback by the breadth of Bowie’s influence. A lot of artists have a relatively narrow audience, but Bowie is one of those who seem to have spanned across generations and cultural barriers. Vibe had an article of 12 Rap Songs that Sampled Bowie. I retweeted Guillermo Del Toro’s response last night. I saw a lot of friends with very conservative tastes lamenting the loss. Queer people saw him as an icon bending the rules of sexuality with a confidence and ease. I saw men and women equally sharing their favorite aspects of his work. On MTV’s posting of that infamous “why don’t you show black people?” interview, so many people said that was a key moment when they really took notice of him as a person and an artist.

    There are few artists who seem to have reached the universal range that Bowie was able to reach. Not that he reached every single person, but his fans seemed to include somebody from most walks of life. Losing that is heartbreaking.

    • The closest thing to this in my memory is the death of Johnny Cash, mourned by homeless teenagers in L.A., prisoners in Folsom, and guys with pickup trucks and shotgun racks in the South. That felt like someone who belonged to all of America died.

      Bowie wasn’t bound to any nation, but like you said, there’s a breadth to his audience–to the “us” in “all of us who listened”–that’s astonishing. Maybe it’s that protean quality of not being able to pin down who he was and who we are that unites us. He was, after all, an artist of endless invention who was always David Bowie.