I want to take you back to the 1960s. The Cold War was in full swing, Black Americans were fighting for their rights along with gays and hispanics and the decade was topped off with the first man on the moon and Woodstock in 1969. Along with all this, a young, struggling transvestite was attempting to break into the music business with a unique brand of pop and performance.
He fell in and out of six equally unsuccessful bands, released 6 unsuccessful singles and an unsuccessful album in 1968 at the start of his solo career after featuring and being a part of some of the albums of bands he had previously been in. That album, predictably, was called David Bowie.
He styled his stage name after the American Frontiersman John Bowie and attempted not just to unambitiously pander to the pop-fans of the time by incorporating a number of different influences into his album, including rock and blues, with lyrics on a range of strange, dark and aggressive topics including drug use, abortion, cannibalism and the messiah. However, it was ill-fated from the start, being released on the same day as The Beatles’ – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and his recording label soon dropped the eccentric and the “commercially unviable,” David Robert Jones from their label.
He was laughed at for his makeup, his extravagant costumes and his mod-inspired haircut. For 18 months he tried to sigh to a new label, in the process writing the now-smash hit “Space Oddity.” When eventually he released this, in 1969, and The Man Who Sold The World, a year later, it marked new fortuned for David Bowie, and at the end of the decade, after 10 top10 albums with 3 topping at number 1, it seemed that Bowie’s music had taken the UK, and the world, by storm and he went from being laughed at on the street to being on the cover of Time magazine. He made being David Bowie cool after years of failure and false starts.
This isn’t so much a tribute to David Bowie, more of a highlight on what hard work can achieve. Bowie knew what he wanted to achieve and he pursued it doggedly for 8 years of his life before finally getting the traction that he wanted. Not only that, but, when he finally did succeed, what he created was nigh on irrepetible. Now his 25th and final album, Blackstar, will be his swan song.
I don’t think Bowie would have wanted someone to succeed the way he did. He wanted to be that unique star in the black sky which bedazzled onlookers more than it confused. I think that, if a London-born self-proclaimed “brawler” can change the world to the point where people clamour in crowds dressed as extraterrestrial rock stars, then why can’t you? I can’t think of something quite as off-the-wall as that so anything you want to do has got to be easier, so go out and do it.