Everybody knows me now: The stars look very different today: fans pay tribute to David Bowie

From the celebratory street party in Brixton last night, to the immortal sphere of rock ‘n roll, a legend lives on.

Thousands of David Bowie fans congregated last night in Brixton to light candles, lay flowers, clank tinnies, and to bawl the Thin White Duke’s songs at the top of their lungs. Starting out as a modest gathering on Facebook, the event soon grew into a giant impromptu street party, held in Bowie’s birthplace. Fans of all descriptions gathered in Windrush Square to pay their respects. Some were still in their suits, having swung by on their way home from the office. Others wore Aladdin Sane facepaint, and hastily assembled Ziggy Stardust costumes. Huddles of friends sat together on benches, hosting mini-renditions of ‘Life on Mars?’ and ‘Space Oddity’. Some particularly resourceful flatmates overlooking the crowds acquired a projector, and put on an unofficial video screening on the sides of the tall buildings lining the square. A mobile speaker karted into view, apparently appearing from nowhere. ‘Let’s Dance’ blared out of the amp, under The Ritzy cinema’s newly rearranged sign, Brixton rose to the occasion, singing, dancing, and celebrating the life of David Bowie.

The tributes continued over in New York, with candles and flowers placed outside David Bowie’s Manhattan apartment. At Groninger Museum in Groningen, The Netherlands, the current Bowie exhibition became a fitting destination for reflection. Makeshift shrines appeared outside 23 Heddon Street - the London road where he shot the cover for ‘The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars’ - and the former Three Tuns Pub in Beckenham, South East London. Across the world, the number of people listening to David Bowie records skyrocketed up to Mars, and they were no doubt putting on impromptu farewell gatherings of their own. Another 80,000 people had an enviable treat in store, discovering the joy of David Bowie’s music for the very first time on Spotify. Though David Bowie may be gone - no doubt headed to another planet in a distant solar system - his spirit, his creativity, and his fearless invention remains.

A rebel who flouted rules in every sense of the word, David Bowie was - and will always be - a hero for the other and the outsider. Amid a monotonous landscape of macho men playing four-to-the-floor fuzz riffs, he stood apart wearing a jaunty beret and a grey dress, artfully accessorised with a smudge of red lipstick, and a knowing smirk. Jolting Thursday night into a state of mild shock, Bowie brought Ziggy Stardust, in all his fabulous, androgynous glory, to Top of the Pops. Stuffy, traditionalist Britain, with its backwards stance on gender equality and Gay Rights, had never seen anything quite like it.

In 1987, Bowie was at it again - helping to kickstart vital change. While the rulemakers continued to shake their heads, rock n’ roll won out. “One of the most emotional performances” of his musical career, he sung ‘Heroes’ to a still-divided Berlin, in front of the Reichstag. East Berliners, shut out from the concert by a Cold War lump of concrete, could literally hear Bowie speaking to them over the wall. Some risked serious consequences to scramble over the top, and in the days that followed the concert, Berliners rioted, united. The mood seemed to shift. Two years later, the wall was torn down.

Then, there’s the unadulterated happiness fueling David Bowie’s music. From the infectious cabasa-injected momentum of ‘The Man Who Sold the World’ to the triumphant ‘Rebel Rebel,’ the inventive thirst of ‘Changes’ to his beautifully arranged and fitting swan-song, ‘Lazarus,’ Bowie created pure soaring magic out of simple musical staves.

A regular fixture of car radio sing-alongs, livening up grey stretches of motorway with ‘Sound and Vision’ or ‘Under Pressure,’ David Bowie has watchful eyes everywhere, in the Aladdin Sane t-shirts for sale across Camden market, and the tattered Labyrinth film posters adorning the bedroom walls of cooler older sisters nationwide. A legging-clad space pirate, a lightening-bolt man, it doesn’t matter how you first met him. Whether you crossed paths with David Bowie in the flesh somewhere along the way, or treasured one of his albums like an old friend you know inside out, few musicians hold the same iconic sphere of influence. Perhaps David Bowie made you pick up a guitar for the first time, or maybe his proud embrace of strangeness in all its forms taught you it was ok to be strange, too. Whether at a Brixton street party, a New York tribute, or sitting ready to be played again in a bedroom record player for the millionth time, David Bowie has a supernatural ability to be everywhere. Everywhere is where he will live on, forever.


Photos: Carolina Faruolo / DIY


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