Vale David Bowie

Alex Capper

It was the sixth of July 1972.

David Bowie was scheduled to appear on Top of the Pops, the most popular music television show in Britain. Bowie had just released his ambitious concept record The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars and was developing a cult following.

Bowie, or should I say Ziggy Stardust, hit the airwaves with an emphatic entrance in a striking rainbow suit with sharp, fiery-red hair to play his smash ‘Starman’. The androgynous figure of Ziggy Stardust was transported into the living rooms of millions of Britons and shook the foundations of mainstream culture and pop music.

It is arguably one of the most important moments in popular Western culture.

Bowie broke down barriers of music, fashion, gender and sexuality in one fantastic simultaneous hit. In many respects, I feel it is the one moment that symbolises the greater impact that David Bowie left over his life.

I can’t tell you how to feel about Bowie, because he was a person who represented so many different things to so many different people that I’m not sure it’s possible to put in words the true capacity of his creative and social influence.

It feels like losing an old friend.

This one hurts.

David Bowie was first and foremost an astoundingly inventive musician. With a career that spanned over four decades, Bowie consistently pushed the boundaries of pop music, birthing the concept of glam rock and redefining the influence that musicians could play in society. No genre was off limits for Bowie, as he explored pop, hard rock, folk rock, psych rock, art rock, disco, soul, electronica, krautrock, ambient and more.

Bowie inspired thousands of fellow artists, people as varied as Kanye West, Kurt Cobain and Madonna.

His lyrics tell stories of hope, desperation, fear and love. Bowie captured the complex maze of human consciousness in such an eloquent and passionate manner that he could evoke an emotional rainbow at any given time.

Every time I hear ‘Heroes’, a story of two lovers at the Berlin Wall, I’m not sure whether I feel gloriously triumphant or hauntingly depressed.

On his most recent and last release, Blackstar, the song ‘Lazarus’, named after a parable in which Jesus Christ raises a man from the dead, is an especially eerily output in hindsight. I guess David Bowie gave us all his own goodbye the only way he knew how: through music.

While Bowie's music alone was enough to mark him as a timeless figure, his artistic creativity knew no boundaries.

One of the key elements to his success was to introduce strange alternative concepts into mainstream culture through his showmanship and character playing. Bowie used the combined frequency of music and acting to explore the capacity and range of the human psyche.

Indeed, Bowie was one of the first pop stars to make a successful career in the acting industry. The film Labyrinth is a popular favourite for many fans and his on-stage presence in plays such as The Elephant Man demonstrated the multi-ranged skill set that made him such a consistent and transcendental figure in popular culture.

Bowie's fame in popular society allowed him the spotlight to blaze a trail in fashion and reconfigure boundaries of gender. His costumes, make up and concepts were innovative and iconic, as he strived to become something more than a pop star: he was somebody after more than the experience of being human.

Bowie symbolised and celebrated individuality. He inspired millions of people to embrace themselves and care for each other. Maybe that’s why his death has had such a monumental impact. For all his work in music, acting, fashion, art and progressing social consciousness, Bowie was something more. He was a man greater than the sum of his parts.

Perhaps he explained it best:

‘I’m not a prophet or a Stone Age man, just a mortal with potential of a superman. I’m living on.’

Live on, Ziggy.

Alex Capper, once affectionally called by Ross & John of 3AW as the '7 foot fucker', loves the Essendon Football Club, stalking reddit and dabbing. He thinks he can speak French, but he can't.