Suddenly, I got it. Here was this big star who was unashamedly different. Who, as I discovered later, was at the time, in his most normal phase he had been in. At that stage, I was a teen-ager trying to find myself, still very much in the shadow of my big brother who had always seemed a larger than life character, and who I was always compared to at school (the fate of younger siblings in country schools, the world over I suspect)
Seeing him, living his life out loud and proud, flamboyant as all hell, and not giving a damn, helped me, a young confused guy struggling to make sense of a world at around 14-15, to see that ultimately what others thought did not matter, living live on your terms was all that mattered. And that if you did, it was possible to be hugely successful. (It took a while to realise that you also have to have big talent and work insanely hard, which, yeah, that was never going to happen)
So, years later, David Bowie has died. Since I first “got him” I can honestly say his music has always been in my life somehow. I’ve not been the biggest fan, or gone and bought all his albums (I can remember buying 3, - a greatest hits, Let’s Dance, and Tonight, which says more about where my headspace was at the time, than the brilliance or otherwise of any of his albums) but his music has remained with me, thoughtful, full of words of surprising depths of emotional realness, that helped those of us who never really felt a part of the mainstream, feel like we were not alone. And, of course, also full of musical adventures that satisfied the classical musician in me. It has taken his death to really drive home, just how much he had meant to me.
So, goodbye you glorious chameleon of a man. May you remain a inspiration for us all.
So, go out, be adventurous, be true to yourself, and make lots of art. Some of it will be great art.