Pen drawing from when I was around 17-1984
‘The Gods forgot they made me, so I forgot them too. I listen to their shadows. I play amongst their graves.’
Everyone needs a religion, whether they would care to admit to it or not.
It’s something to believe in, something to elevate the droll and the mundane, the mortal and hollow promise of the grave.
For me, it was the music of David Bowie. Not just the music actually, it was the visual allure, the spectacle, the retinue of changing persona, the boundless creativity, the ambiguous sexuality, the whole kit and caboodle. And I was an eager disciple, collecting obsessively and voraciously discovering him through anything I could get my hands on: vinyl,concerts, magazines, books, newspaper clippings, grainy VHS.
I’ve mentioned it before, because where you begin as an artist, informs a lot of where you end up, but the 70’s in England were like the ashes of a promise the 60’s had failed to deliver. And yet there he was, a Technicolor, extraterrestrial prophet, delivering perfectly crafted ciphers in the form of mantric pop songs.
He was your school, because the chalk dusted conformity of the British classroom was so dreary. Bowiephilia was a club that delivered a dizzying myriad education in literary figureheads from Crowley to Burroughs, Isherwood to Mishima and a Art history lesson that included Rossetti, Dali, Heckle, Warhol and everyone in between. It was a cachet of cool, even if it meant you occasionally got a good twating by some Scally’s for liking ‘that fookin’ poof’.
Around 95′ I wrote in David Buckleys excellent tome ‘Strange Fascination’, that we were like ‘pasty necro-punkettes in fishnets and eyeliner-procuring alter egos…only to return to irksome acned little waifs in the morning.’ and it was true, to be a Bowie fan meant you didn’t have to be a working class nobody from an impoverished council house, you could be a different class, a different species entirely.
David Bowie shaped me, he was the big brother and mentor I never had, the creative yardstick by which I have measured every point in my own artistic quest, by which I have challenged myself through his spirit of experimentation. Indeed side two of Low remains the aural backdrop of virtually every painting I’ve done.
His music was also MY solace during some of the most profoundly difficult points in my life, the all too frequent death of friends and loved ones, the personal hardships such as breakups and divorce. He’s been there at the best of times too, without him I would never have met my second wife Lani, who was introduce through a friend I knew on the Bowiewonderworld forum back in 1999.
And now he has gone, ‘the solitary candle’ has extinguished, and the void in the wake of that is too vast to contemplate for now, but what an extraordinary, singularly perfect note to end on.
As has been the ritual of every new waxing-on the day of Blackstar’s release,I excitedly drove all over San Diego before finally getting a copy at Target of all pedestrian places. I’d have driven to Hell or at least L.A to listen to it, because it is an indelible, powerful elegy: the work of a man with still so much left to say.
Except, in his remarkable, copious legacy are the kind of seeds that could fill several lifetimes of magical exploration, transcendence and expanded consciousness.
One of my all time favorite lyrics are from his song Quicksand, it goes: ‘I’m not a prophet or a stone age man, just the mortal with the potential of a superman, and I’m living all’
May those lines be a manifest for us all.