William Thornton discusses the legacy of David Bowie, following the fourth anniversary of his death
Growing up in the same town David Bowie used to live in, I’ve always been surrounded by the musician’s influence and legacy. Whether it was the Beckenham bandstand he used to perform at, the plaque at his former secondary school, or even his old jacket preserved in the central Bromley library, my life has always been immersed in Bowie’s immense legacy and talent. Even from a young age my mother would be playing Bowie’s music around the house or singing it out loud during long car journeys. It’s safe to say that Bowie’s life and music has had an immense impact on my upbringing, and four years after his death in 2016 it’s even clearer than ever that nothing has changed in that regard.
But it’s not just my own life that’s been vastly influenced and changed thanks to Bowie; the entire music industry has been immeasurably shaped by the Starman’s music, something that certainly hasn’t changed since his death. Bowie’s final album Blackstar, released on his birthday the year of his death, was well-received upon release. Yet, when it was announced to the public that Bowie had passed away after a secret 18-month battle with liver cancer, the album shot up even higher in the public eye, with many beginning to analyse the lyrics of the album and figuring out that it contained many hidden messages regarding the musician’s own struggles with coming to terms with his terminal illness. Blackstar aside, the rest of Bowie’s music was just as popular after the public found out about his death as people flocked to re-immerse themselves in his spectacular discography: in the US alone, Bowie’s combined album and song sales rose by over 5,000%, and nine of his albums re-entered the Billboard 200 just after his death.
The entire music industry has been immeasurably shaped by his music, something that certainly hasn’t changed
When speaking about the legacy of David Bowie, however, it’s impossible not to bring up the impact he’s had on other musicians, before and after his death. Just think about the vast amount of covers people have recorded of Bowie’s music: there’s The Smashing Pumpkin’s version of ‘Space Oddity’, Morrisey’s ‘Drive-In Saturday’, and of course who could forget both Nirvana and Midge Ure’s versions of ‘The Man who Sold the World’, two extremely different covers of the same song that are both equally amazing tributes to the immortal British icon. Even since Bowie’s death, there’s been a huge amount of covers and tributes released in homage to the musician, such as Lady Gaga performing a medley of some of Bowie’s most well-known hits at the 58th Grammys, Lorde performing ‘Life on Mars’ with his old touring band, and even Dave Grohl paying tribute to Bowie at the 88th Academy Awards with an ‘In Memoriam’ performance.
It’s safe to say there’s no other musician who’s had such an impact in his lifetime as David Bowie did, and not just on the rest of the music industry, but on the rest of the world. Since his untimely death in 2016 the towering legacy of the musician hasn’t dimmed one bit; he still remains just as timeless as it ever has since the release of ‘Space Oddity’ all the way back in 1969. And as for me personally, I know that I’ll never stop thinking about Bowie and his influence on my life, and his music will always have a place in my heart. See you, Starman.