The cosmic sadness you feel in the universe today is the absence of David Bowie, who passed away yesterday at the age of 69 after an 18-month battle with cancer. Bowie was the undisputed heavyweight champ of being effortlessly cool. Everything just came so natural to him, making him larger than life almost every aspect: A beloved recording artist with his many phases and personas. A fashion icon. A fiercely inspired creative who encouraged others to take risks and just be themselves. A deeply passionate, flawed, and rebellious saint to many.
And at the end of the day, he was a wonderful and gregarious human being.
The memorializing of David Bowie beyond his earthly life has just begun. Meanwhile, here are a few stories about just how amazing David Bowie was on a personal level — a level that very few people were lucky enough to know him on. It’s best read with The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars playing at full volume. Or really anything from expansive catalog of music created over the last five decades.
Here’s one from Owen Pallett, a Canadian violinist who frequently played with Arcade Fire.
And one from actress Maura Tierney, who just won a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Showtime’s The Affair:
And this tremendous story about Bowie performing “Heroes” at the Berlin Wall in 1987. Via:
Bowie played this at Live Aid from Wembley Stadium, England in 1985, and also at the Berlin Wall in 1987. Regarding the later performance, Bowie said in his Performing Songwriter interview: “I’ll never forget that. It was one of the most emotional performances I’ve ever done. I was in tears. They’d backed up the stage to the wall itself so that the wall was acting as our backdrop. We kind of heard that a few of the East Berliners might actually get the chance to hear the thing, but we didn’t realize in what numbers they would. And there were thousands on the other side that had come close to the wall. So it was like a double concert where the wall was the division. And we would hear them cheering and singing along from the other side. God, even now I get choked up. It was breaking my heart. I’d never done anything like that in my life, and I guess I never will again. When we did ‘Heroes’ it really felt anthemic, almost like a prayer. However well we do it these days, it’s almost like walking through it compared to that night, because it meant so much more. That’s the town where it was written, and that’s the particular situation that it was written about. It was just extraordinary. We did it in Berlin last year as well – ‘Heroes’ – and there’s no other city I can do that song in now that comes close to how it’s received. This time, what was so fantastic is that the audience – it was the Max Schmeling Hall, which holds about 10-15,000 – half the audience had been in East Berlin that time way before. So now I was face-to-face with the people I had been singing it to all those years ago. And we were all singing it together. Again, it was powerful. Things like that really give you a sense of what performance can do. They happen so rarely at that kind of magnitude. Most nights I find very enjoyable. These days, I really enjoy performing. But something like that doesn’t come along very often, and when it does, you kind of think, ‘Well, if I never do anything again, it won’t matter.'”
And here’s a letter he sent a 14-year-old fan in America pre rock ‘n roll stardom in 1967:
And another great story:
Fuck cancer. Long live the Goblin King.
Rest in space, Starman.