Like many people, I woke up on Monday morning to the news of the death of David Bowie. The huge media coverage of the death demonstrated what a huge influence Bowie had over many of our lives.
I remember as a teenager watching Top of the Pops in the early 1970s and seeing Bowie place his arm around Mick Ronson while performing Starman. It’s an image well remembered by many of my generation. Many years later I was lucky enough to see his 2003 gig at Wembley. It was one of the best concerts I’ve been to.
He also had an interesting acting career. While many obituaries understandably focused on movies such as Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence and Labyrinth, I feel that arguably his best performance came in the 1982 BBC adaptation of Bertolt Brecht’s Baal. It’s not an easy role to play, but Bowie carried it off.
In 2012 I saw that National Theatre’s production of This House, James Graham’s play about the problems of the 1974-79 Labour Government. Bowie’s songs punctuated the drama. Rock n roll Suicide helped to tell the strange and tragic tale of John Stonehouse, while Five Years summed up the doomed nature of the minority administration.
A couple of years ago I went along to my local cinema to see a live broadcast from the V&A of their David Bowie is exhibition. I can’t think of too many people who would merit having a national museum put on a special exhibition of their life and work, let alone have the exhibition broadcast to cinema audiences across the country. The fact that the exhibition is currently on a worldwide tour is proof of Bowie’s international appeal.
Those of us who work in PR are always being reminded that we need to keep up with the times. Probably the most impressive thing about David Bowie is that he was always ahead of the times.