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david bowie

For Me, David Bowie Lives On

The past two years have only complicated my relationship with the iconic Mr. Jones.
David Bowie, 1971. Photograph by Brian Ward. Courtesy of The David Bowie Archive

After five years touring the world, David Bowie Is, the juggernaut retrospective organized by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, is now in its largest and final iteration at the Brooklyn Museum. Meanwhile, the relentless program of reissues and re-masters of the Starman’s work is being re-upped this spring with eight more records receiving the vinyl treatment. After his passing in January 2016 inspired tributes from loyal fans, Bowie’s cross-cultural presence looms large. His son, filmmaker Duncan Jones, has even launched an international book clubbased around his father’s hundred favorite tomes.


That we were going to be confronted with a swelling expression of warmth to Bowie’s memory was plain early on. A few weeks after he died, my wife and I were waiting in line at a supermarket in Austin. At the tills, among the last-minute gewgaws, was a rack of Blackstar CDs. Record company opportunism? Maybe. But a good proportion of our fellow customers were adding the terminal masterpiece to their weekly shops. This was a long way from the only connections I had previously made between Bowie and Texas: 1) He adored crackpot outsider The Legendary Stardust Cowboy; 2) Stevie Ray Vaughan played on Let’s Dance; and 3) When promoting The Man Who Sold The World in a flowing silk gown at a Houston radio station on Wednesday, February 10, 1971, an outraged local pulled a gun on him.

I come armed with the exact date of the last factoid because a few years back, I spent nine months marshaling a 300,000-word manuscript by British Bowie archivist Kevin Cann into the heavyweight Any Day Now, a blow-by-blow diary of Bowie’s life in the UK capital between his birth in 1947 and his departure from the country in 1974. The first copy was duly sent to its subject; word came back that he was knocked out (and subsequently inquired what he’d been doing at specific times in his life)

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