Bowie’s death gutted me. A friend had sent me the news via Facebook message, and I opened it that morning with no idea what it would be. The breath left me, I grabbed at the kitchen counter to slow my collapse as my knees weakened. And I sobbed. The world hadn’t ended, but the man, the rock star, the actor, who meant so much to me was no more.
My first memory of David Bowie was, like so many of my age group (particularly female), that of Jareth the Goblin King, tormenting a youthful Jennifer Connelly. Labyrinth is still a favourite film, but for half a dozen years after watching it often, I had yet to realize that its main villain was anything more than an actor. I was twelve or thirteen when that happened, in the early 90s. I devoured biographies, scoured my city library’s tape and LP collections…. anything I could find. This was pre-Internet, of course.
Once the Internet arrived, one of the first things I searched for was Bowie, using a text-based browser, and coming across a website on Stanford.edu, choosing one picture, a Thin White Duke one, to download (which took ages). That site, The David Bowie File, turned into Teenage Wildlife. Without the Internet, I wouldn’t have found so many other fans, and had so many amazing experiences. I would have been stuck in my hometown, wondering where all the other Bowie fans were. But because of the Internet, and Teenage Wildlife, and the early BowieNet, I know so many others, and am still friends with my first Bowie online friends.
In 1995, I bought 1. Outside, the first Bowie album I’d been able to purchase on release day. Since then, I haven’t missed one. Bowie’s music has been the soundtrack to my life, taking me through childhood, adolescence, and into my mid-thirties. His interests provoked my own, sending me on tangents and down rabbit holes. I credit him with further expanding my literary knowledge.
And there was nothing like a Bowie live show to get the blood rushing, the adrenaline pumping, the delight taking over my entire being. It wasn’t just about the albums, the songs, it was his entire presence. Vancouver on September 6, 1997 was a revelation, the first show of the Earthling tour on its North American leg, and my very first show, age 17. I saw six shows altogether, including two in New York in 2000, one in 2002 in New York again, and two during the Reality tour (in Calgary and Edmonton). If I had a time machine, I’d go back and see many, many more.
It would have been Bowie’s 70th birthday today, and it’s almost the one-year marker of his passing, I am grateful and thankful that he did what he did, shared his creativity and ideas with the world, and made such a mark upon my life.