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David Bowie - The world pays tribute to a legend

David Bowie

Feature by Rob Carnevale

THE world has united to pay tribute to legendary singer and actor David Bowie, who has died of cancer at the age of 69.

News of his death was announced via a statement on his social media accounts on Monday (January 11, 2016), saying he “died peacefully, surrounded by his family” after an “18-month battle with cancer”.

It was greeted with shock by many, especially since the singer, who had been living in New York in recent years, only released his latest album, Blackstar last Friday, his birthday.

Leading the tributes was that posted by his son, the BAFTA-winning director Duncan Jones, who wrote on Twitter: “Very sorry and sad to say it’s true. I’ll be offline for a while. Love to all.”

But subsequent tributes have come from far and wide, whether from fellow musicians and actors, to leading world figures such as British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Cameron wrote: “I grew up listening to and watching the pop genius David Bowie. He was a master of re-invention, who kept getting it right. A huge loss.”

Sir Paul McCartney described him as a “great star” who “played a very strong part in British musical history”, while Yoko Ono – the wife of late Beatles singer John Lennon – said Bowie was “as close as family” for her and Lennon, adding that he was a “father figure” to their son, Sean.

Fellow music icons The Rolling Stones also paid tribute via Twitter, writing: “As well as being a wonderful and kind man, he was an extraordinary artist, and a true original.”

Bowie memorably united with Stones frontman Mick Jagger for the hit song, Dancing in The Street.

Jagger added separately: “We had so many good times together. He was my friend, I will never forget him.”

Brian May, guitarist with Queen – with whom Bowie collaborated on another classic record, Under Pressure – described him as “a fearsome talent”.

And friend and collaborator Iggy Pop wrote on Twitter: “David’s friendship was the light of my life. I never met such a brilliant person. He was the best there is.”

Another memorable tribute came from queen of pop Madonna, who wrote in a lengthy Facebook tribute: “I’m devastated. David Bowie changed the course of my life forever. I never felt like I fit in growing up in growing up in Michigan. Like an oddball or a freak. I went to see him in concert at Cobo Arena in Detroit. It was the first concert I’d ever been too. I snuck out of the house with my girlfriend wearing a cape.

“We got caught after and I was grounded for the summer. I didn’t care.
I already had many of his records and was so inspired by the way he played with gender confusion .
Was both masculine and feminine.
Funny and serious.
Clever and wise.
His lyrics were witty ironic and mysterious.
At the time he was the thin white Duke and he had mime artists on stage with him and very specific choreography
And I saw how he created a persona and used different art forms within the arena of rock and Roll to create entertainment.
I found him so inspiring and innovative.
Unique and provocative. A real Genius.”

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Comedian and actor Ricky Gervais, who convinced Bowie to star as himself and ridicule Gervais in an episode of 2006 sitcom Extras, simply wrote: “I just lost a hero. RIP David Bowie.”

And Midge Ure, who helped organise the Live Aid concert in 1985 – at which Bowie performed – told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “He wasn’t just a brilliant songwriter and an amazing creator, he excelled at everything.”

Rapper Kanye West posted: “David Bowie was one of my most important inspirations, so fearless, so creative, he gave us magic for a lifetime. I pray for his friends and family.”

And U2 posted: “Planet Earth is blue – Bono.”

Bowie’s record company, Columbia, also put out a tribute, which read: “We are deeply saddened by the loss of David Bowie. It was an honour and a privilege to release his music to the world.”

And Annie Lennox wrote on Facebook: “No one exists forever and it seems our elegant gentleman was well aware that his last mortal chapter was about to reach it’s conclusion. “Dark Star” [sic] was his parting gift. Provocative and nightmarishly “otherworldly”… we are jolted towards the twilight realms of epileptic seizures and voodoo scarecrows.”

Brett Anderson, who was influenced by Bowie’s 70s glam scene, said in a statement: “I had the pleasure of meeting David several times and he was always so charming and warm. To say he was a great artist is a lumpen understatement; his songs became the furniture of mine and so many people’s lives and helped write the book of pop music itself. We are all far poorer without him.”

And Brian Eno, who produced Bowie’s Berlin Trilogy – Low, Heroes and Lodger – said the news had come as a complete shock to him too.

“David’s death came as a complete surprise, as did nearly everything else about him. I feel a huge gap now. We knew each other for over 40 years, in a friendship that was always tinged by echoes of Pete and Dud. Over the last few years – with him living in New York and me in London – our connection was by email. We signed off with invented names: some of his were Mr Showbiz, Milton Keynes, Rhoda Borrocks and the Duke of Ear.

“About a year ago we started talking about Outside – the last album we worked on together. We both liked that album a lot and felt that it had fallen through the cracks. We talked about revisiting it, taking it somewhere new. I was looking forward to that. I received an email from him seven days ago.

“It was as funny as always, and as surreal, looping through word games and allusions and all the usual stuff we did. It ended with this sentence: thank you for our good times, brian. they will never rot and it was signed dawn I realise now he was saying goodbye.”