Tuesday 20 March 2018

Lucy Jones: Happy birthday to the Thin White Duke who didn't feel the need to accept a knighthood

Daiv Bowie
Daiv Bowie

DAVID Bowie, hero of 20th century pop music, turned 65 yesterday. It's only a few weeks since that lost BBC footage of his Jean Genie performance was unearthed by a cameraman, reminding us of – and introducing younger listeners to – this pop luminary.

What made David Bowie so good? Well, how long is a piece of string? You only have to look at pop music over the last 30 to 40 years to see his influence and inspiration on the artists who draw from him, or can't help but recapitulate his style. The success of his recording career, iced with collaborations with other visionaries such as Lou Reed and Iggy Pop, goes without saying. As does his musical talent and creative imagination.

But there are other gilding details. His sense of humour, for example, displayed in his cameo in popular children's show Spongebob Squarepants, and sending himself up in Dancing in the Street with Sir Mick. There's the humility and gratitude for his position – none of that smug posturing and sense of entitlement so many rock stars grow into. "But I've got to think of myself as the luckiest guy. Robert Johnson only had one album's worth of work as his legacy. That's all that life allowed him," he once said. And he was never afraid of complimenting other artists: "Frankly, I mean, sometimes the interpretations I've seen on some of the songs that I've written are a lot more interesting than the input that I put in."

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