Monday, January 11, 2016

David Bowie

David Bowie, Skydome, Toronto, March 7, 1990

I NEVER THOUGHT HE WOULD DIE. It's a ridiculous thing to say, I know, but as far as I was concerned David Bowie was always there and, based on precedent, always would be. Obviously I was wrong. 

The news came out of nowhere; no one but his family and friends knew he was ill and, having stage managed his life with seemingly effortless success for so many years, he made his exit with remarkable discretion.

David Bowie, Skydome, Toronto, March 7, 1990

One of my first entries in this blog was about him. I had maintained for years that, to my everlasting regret, I'd never seen him live, and until I discovered these negatives in my files, I was sure that I hadn't. Which is a very strange thing to do if you're a big fan. A really, really big fan.

The Skydome, Sound & Vision tour, 1990. As I rationalized in that post, this wasn't how I ideally wanted to see one of my great heroes - two, maybe three songs from a photo pit at the side of the stage - so I erased the memory. Better to have no memory at all than one that reminded me of opportunities missed - Seneca Field House with Iggy Pop, Maple Leaf Gardens in 1978.

And now this is my only memory, so I guess I'd better cherish it.

David Bowie, Skydome, Toronto, March 7, 1990

It was Paul Thurston who turned me on to Bowie, back in grade nine at St. Mike's. I'd heard his hits on the radio all through my childhood - Major Tom, Ziggy, the soul boy and early Thin White Duke  - but Paul insisted I buy a copy of Heroes, his latest record. He said it would change my life.

There's at least a whole generation of us - the "Bowie-damaged" ones. All the punks were Bowie damaged, and at least every other musical genre or social subculture since then has had his fingerprints on it. The man has a hell of a legacy. It just seems strange that he's no longer going to be around to enjoy it.

David Bowie, Skydome, Toronto, March 7, 1990

David Bowie was always on my "list." He was on that list when Chris Buck and I first made ours, and he remained on it even when I knew that my chances of getting him in front of my camera for a portrait - slim even before he was a recluse - became almost completely improbable. Even if there was the barest chance I cherished the fantasy that luck and fortune might somehow beat the odds. No more.

I married a Bowie fan and we've made little Bowie fans out of our children. The man taught me about inspiration and re-invention and going unexpected places when your creativity needs more light and air. I suppose I kept him on my list because I wanted the chance to tell him that. I'm guessing, though, that he'd have heard it before, plenty of times.

David Bowie (aka David Robert Jones) died in New York City of cancer on January 10, 2016.


1 comment:

  1. When I was twelve I checked out Space Oddity from the Riverton Public Library, because it looked weird, and spent the rest of the summer having my mind blown. I saw him on the Let's Dance tour, possibly my least favorite incarnation. I remember being crushed by the audience behind us when Rough Trade finished their set. Great Photos Rick.