Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Farewell to an Innovator

On January 10th, the world mourned the loss of music innovator David Bowie, who lost the battle to liver cancer at the age of 69. Born and raised in Brixton, South London as David ("Davie") Jones, he changed his name to Bowie early in his career to avoid confusion with Davy Jones of The Monkees. From singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, arranger, painter and actor, Bowie was a trailblazing figure in pop culture for over four decades, and a pioneer of glam rock in the 1970s. While Bowie re-emerged in '72 with his alter-ego Ziggy Stardust, and achieved American crossover success in '75 with "Fame," we'll only touch on his first Top-5 UK hit in the late '60s, "Space Oddity."
Released as a single in July 1969, the title and subject matter were inspired by Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey and introduced the character of Major Tom. The United States' Apollo 11 mission would launch five days later, and would become the first manned moon landing another five days later. Written by Bowie for his promotional film Love You Till Tuesday (featured below), a longer re-recorded version of the song was included as the opening song for the 1969 album David Bowie (released that November). Upon its re-release as a single in 1973, the song reached #15 on the Billboard chart and became Bowie's first hit single in the US. Still one of his best-known songs, "Space Oddity" was a largely acoustic number augmented by the eerie tones of the Stylophone, a pocket electronic organ played by Bowie. Love this classic footage from so early in his career.

So much more can be said about this influential musician; this quick tribute doesn't do him justice. Farewell, David Bowie.