Celebrities, ministers pay tribute to David Bowie

PHOTO: Reuters

A day after British singer David Bowie died of liver cancer on Sunday (Monday Singapore time), tributes poured in from around the world.

Actors such as Ricky Gervais and Russell Crowe and musicians like Paul McCartney, Iggy Pop and Madonna are mourning his loss.

Even the younger ones, like One Direction frontman Harry Styles, have expressed sadness.

The Rolling Stones tweeted: "The Rolling Stones are shocked and deeply saddened to hear of the death of our dear friend David Bowie. As well as being a wonderful and kind man, he was an extraordinary artist, and a true original."

The legendary singer's death was announced in a statement released on his official social media accounts on Sunday.

"David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18-month battle with cancer," the statement read.

"While many of you will share in this loss, we ask that you respect the family's privacy during their time of grief."

The news was confirmed by his son, director Duncan Jones, who tweeted: "Very sorry and sad to say it's true. I'll be offline for a while. Love to all."

Bowie, who was 69, had just released his 25th studio album, Blackstar, on his birthday days earlier, on Jan 8.

He is survived by his wife, the model Iman, son Duncan, daughter Alexandria Zahra and ex-wife Angie.

Blackstar, widely acclaimed by critics, hit No. 1 on the iTunes chart in the UK and No. 2 in the US. It is expected to perform even better with Bowie's death, although local distributor Sony Music Singapore declined to comment on projected album sales.

Known for pioneering the glam rock genre, Bowie began his music career in 1962. His breakthrough came with his 1972 album, The Rise And Fall of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars.

His hits included Let's Dance, Space Oddity, Heroes, Fame and Ashes To Ashes.

He also appeared in films such as The Man Who Fell To Earth, Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, Labyrinth, Zoolander and The Prestige.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said he had grown up with Bowie's music and described his death as "a huge loss".

Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam posted a tribute on Facebook, calling Bowie the "musical genius of a generation" and quoting lyrics from his 1969 song Space Oddity.

LOSS

Local musicians also felt the loss of the musical icon.

"I'm going to cry right now, I'm so depressed," 26-year-old singer-songwriter Inch Chua, who was listening to Bowie's music in the office of her label Warner Music, told The New Paper yesterday.

"I haven't felt this bad since Michael Jackson and Robin Williams died. Bowie is the kind of artist I aspire to be. He dreamed big and wildly, and was unique in his boldness and courage.

"It's so easy for musicians to die young but to have the longevity of Bowie's career is amazing."

Daniel Sassoon, guitarist for local rock band In Each Hand A Cutlass, said he was taking the singer's death "a lot harder than expected".

"It's ruined my Monday," he told TNP.

"I felt bad when Lemmy from Motorhead died recently, but his death was kind of expected because of his hard partying lifestyle.

"Bowie's passing was shocking because I had just been listening to his new record."

"Watching Bowie live in 2004 at the Indoor Stadium was one of my favourite concert moments," added Sassoon, 40.

"Listening to him perform was super haunting - my hairs were standing at the back of my neck as he hit his high notes."

ONE FM 91.3 DJs Glenn Ong and The Flying Dutchman were also saddened by Bowie's death.

"When I first saw him on TV at the age of 12 or 13, I thought: 'What's the big deal, he's such an ugly chap,'" said Ong, 45.

"It was only after becoming a DJ that I realised what a tremendous icon he was.

"Bowie was kind of like the Lady Gaga of his time. He became huge because of his cross-dressing and transgender look.

"He was the sound of the future. I really admire people like that."

The Flying Dutchman, whose real name is Mark van Cuylenberg, called Bowie's passing "absolutely shocking" and lamented that the singer was "gone too soon".

"Bowie was iconic for both his music and fashion sense and I wonder what British music would be today without him," said the 59-year-old.

"Every generation has its greats and I was lucky to part of the David Bowie generation."

20 things you need to know about David Bowie

1. Born David Robert Jones in London on Jan 8, 1947. He shared his birthday with Elvis.

2. He married supermodel Iman in 1992 and they have a daughter, Alexandria Zahra Jones. His son Duncan Jones, who is from Bowie's previous marriage to Angela Bowie, is the director of the upcoming Warcraft film adaptation.

3. Besides singing, Bowie played the piano, keyboards, guitar and saxophone.

4. He had a permanently dilated pupil as a result of a school fight over a girl.

5. He had just one O-level qualification - in art. He enjoyed drawing, painting and sculpting.

6. He changed his name to Bowie in 1966 to differentiate himself from Davy Jones of The Monkees.

7. Bowie had been in 10 bands. His most famous backing band was called Spiders From Mars.

8. One of Bowie's earliest hits, 1969's Space Oddity, became popular again in 2013, after Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield uploaded a YouTube video of him singing the song in orbit. The song was also featured in the 2013 Ben Stiller movie The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty.

9. Bowie was a chameleon and was known for his alter egos on stage: Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane and Thin White Duke.

10. Loved by critics and widely regarded as one of the most influential musician, Bowie sold an estimated 140 million albums over his 24-year career.

11. He was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1996.

12. He claimed to have pioneered moonwalking years before Michael Jackson did, writing on his official website that he was taught a type of moonwalk for his 1974 Diamond Dogs tour.

13. He collaborated with Queen's Freddie Mercury for the 1981 hit Under Pressure.

14. He appeared in movies, including The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976); Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983); Labyrinth (1986); and Zoolander (2001).

15. In 1996, Bowie released Telling Lies, the first-ever downloadable single by a major artist. He launched his own Internet service provider, Bowienet, a year later.

16. He was the first musician to issue bonds against his future income in 1997, with investors paying £35 million (S$73m) for "Bowie Bonds" backed by income from his back catalogue.

17. He voiced the character of Lord Royal Highness in animated movie SpongeBob's Atlantis SquarePants in 2007. For the upcoming SpongeBob Squarepants Broadway musical, Bowie was reported to have signed on to write original music for the show.

18. In 2009, a rare yellow spider from Malaysia was named after him because he had referenced arachnids in his 1972 album The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars.

19. After a 10-year hiatus from music, Bowie had a comeback in 2013 with his 24th studio album, The Next Day. This was followed by compilation album Nothing Has Changed in 2014.

20. Arcade Fire and TV On The Radio are two of Bowie's favourite bands from the last decade.

lisat@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on January 12, 2016.
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