Along with millions of other people, I was shocked to hear of the passing of David Bowie last week.
His music was the backdrop to my school years as we bopped away to “Let’s Dance” and sang along to “Ashes to Ashes.” In those pre-Internet and social media days, we were not aware of the extent of his lifestyle excesses until we were older, and by then he was already embedded into British pop culture — and we loved his music.
I also feel a bond because he is one of England’s own who chose to live in the wonderful USA with his wife of 23 years, Iman, and his 15-year-old daughter, Lexi.
There has been a great deal written about Bowie in recent days by far more talented writers than me. But what I will do is share a few facts that interested me. Visit www.imdb.com for more.
• Was born and raised in London, England, with the real name of David Robert Jones. He took the name Bowie as a stage name at age 18 in 1965 to keep himself from being confused with Davy Jones of The Monkees. His parents were of Welsh and Irish ancestry, the Jones side of the family having roots in West Wales.
• Was s longtime smoker. He gave up his 50-cigarette-a-day habit in 2004. He also struggled with drugs in his younger years, but said he gave them up in the late 1970s.
• Had one permanently dilated eye caused during a fight. This gave him a slightly dark and unusual look.
• Had aviophobia, which is a fear of flying.
• Was able to play 14 different instruments, even performing the excellent sax solo at the end of “Heroes.”
• Was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996 and the American Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005. He was voted the 39th Greatest Artist in Rock ‘n’ Roll in a poll by Rolling Stone.
• Was good friends with the late Freddie Mercury of Queen and remained friends with Elton John, both of whom were his big chart rivals in the 1970s and 1980s.
Fortune Magazine recently laid out David Bowie’s 50-year career “by the numbers”: 26 studio albums, 140 million records sold, nine No. 1 hit albums in the UK and five in the USA, and an estimated net worth of $230 million.
Bowie kept a very low profile after his heart attack on stage in Germany in 2004, but in the last years of his life, his creative talents re-emerged. This was topped off by “Blackstar,” the album released last week (just two days before his death) which is now topping charts around the world.
Whatever your opinion of Bowie, it is hard to deny that he chose to leave this world as he had lived — on his own terms. He kept his terminal liver cancer a secret from most people and, with the release of his last video and song “Lazarus” that anticipated his upcoming death, he remained true to his unique way of choreographing himself.
Here is a quote from the man himself, which is both poignant and thought provoking: “As you get older, the questions come down to about two or three. How long? And what do I do with the time I’ve got left?”
Goodbye, Ziggy Stardust, and God bless America!
Francis grew up in London, England, and made Georgia her home in 2009. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or via her PR agency at www.lesleyfrancispr.com.