“If You Say Run, I’ll Run With You”
Mime Artist, Fashion Icon, Actor, Singer, Songwriter, Visionary – just some of the words that describe one incredibly talented human being; David Bowie. Like Lon Chaney (‘the man of a thousand faces’) he loved to create innumerable personalities, and each of us who became enthralled by him would discover our own Bowie.
For me it was when Let’s Dance was released in 1983. I was 14 years old when it was in the charts and I loved it! I couldn’t believe that it was a David Bowie single. In my mind he was still the weird and bizarre character, Ziggy Stardust. Stunned at the transformation to an ’80s ‘new romantic’, I instantly started to take an interest in him. He has said that this period was his least satisfactory; presumably because he wasn’t playing a character, he was himself. When ‘Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence’ came out in the cinemas, it was a ‘must-see’. I was gob-smacked! I had no idea until many years later that he had acted before this; “The Man Who Fell To Earth”, his debut, and a part that is probably less well-known, the title role in “The Elephant Man” on Broadway which earned him high praise from the critics. More popular and still a wonderful film, “Labyrinth”, Jim Henson’s fantastical adventure, allowed his exceptional creative side to show through. However, outside of film and theatre, he would devise the most flamboyant and outrageous characters, using them as a conduit to reach his musical audiences.
In 2013 the V&A held a Bowie exhibition – a retrospective of his career that included handwritten lyrics, original costumes, fashion, photography, film, music videos, set designs and Bowie’s own instruments. It is my one regret that I didn’t go in. I was visiting the museum at the time, a birthday day out, but didn’t get tickets thinking that I would go another time and never did.
Looking back on his life he was someone you were either completely entranced by or someone you couldn’t quite figure out. Who was the ‘real’ Bowie? I doubt the public will ever truly know.
Many tributes will be paid to the creative maestro of reinvention that was David Bowie over the next few days and weeks; he will be missed. I doubt we will ever see anyone who was so driven by his imagination. He is peerless.
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