I've never been a 'fan' of David Bowie. I've never seen him in concert. I've only got one album of his (a 'greatest hits' album, which doesn't really count).
Still, I was quite surprised to hear about his passing. He was one of those cultural icons (he wasn't a 'celebrity' – he was definitely much more than that) that has always been around ever since I was a kid. I knew he was getting on a bit, but had no inkling that he would die so young (well, 69 is a good innings, but you know what I mean).
Like with Michael Jackson and many other famous people of a similar ilk who die before they get old and decrepit, the well-worn phrase springs to mind: you don't know what you've got until it's gone.
I knew Bowie was something special. He was one of those people bestowed with the honour of being a 'national treasure', that unofficial title which the collective cultural consciousness of a country grants someone when they impact a nation so greatly. He was cool, edgy, intelligent, kind, softly-spoken and a musical genius.
But the thing is, he was always 'there', in the background and, I guess, he was taken for granted. Occasionally a song of his would be on the radio. He might pop up on TV or on YouTube (I came across this clip of him singing 'Little Drummer Boy' with Bing Crosby just before Christmas), but apart from his success in the 1980s, he never really featured prominently in the media. Of course, he was just beavering away doing his own thing and it was the hardcore fans who were following his work.
When I heard Bowie had died I just had to fire up Apple Music* and listen to a David Bowie playlist. It was then that I was reminded of the greatness of his music and what an incredible legacy he'd left behind. Admittedly, I haven't really listened to his more recent stuff, but from what I have heard I can appreciate it for what it is (maybe not my cup of tea, but culturally important nonetheless).
Rest in peace, Mister Bowie. You will be sadly missed.
My top 5 Bowie songs:
1. Space Oddity
4. Ashes to Ashes
*while I still have my three-month free trial!