He was supposed to be immortal


David Bowie has died. I should probably just dump a few dozen songs here to represent his range, but I’ll restrain myself.

I’ll have to watch some of his movies this week, too. Labyrinth, maybe, or Man Who Fell To Earth or The Hunger or Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence. The guy was good at everything.


  1. says

    A loss that will reverberate around the world. Nice that you chose Heroes. I have that on my playlist, followed by Helden, Apocalyptica’s cover, with Till Lindemann singing.

  2. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    He is immortal.
    His genre-crossing broke all the bounds that existed only virtually.
    He will be remembered.
    That is the only “real” form of immortality: being remembered forever.
    I’m sure he’s off enticing some into that Labyrinth of his, or floating out in space …
    He will be missed
    RIP Ziggy Stardust

  3. says


    He was only 11 years older than I am? Jebus.

    I was just thinking that about 5 minutes ago – I remember buying Ziggy Stardust in 1972, when I was 14.5 years old. He wasn’t all that much older than me, but of course, I wasn’t thinking about that then.

  4. rietpluim says

    If the word “genius” was invented for anybody in particular, it would be for David Bowie.

  5. Vivec says

    As a nonbinary person, a lot of Bowie’s androgynous stage persona really spoke to me. It’s a real shame that he’s gone – there’s a dearth of gender nonconformity in popular music and this made it even worse.

  6. FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!) says

    Stardom of the rock variety came at a cost for the musicians of his era. It’s tempting to think that genius is a light that consumes, but the fact is that their lifestyle, aided, abetted, and encouraged by all around them, was unhealthy. I fucking hate that. The glorification of self destructive behaviour for the titilation of the masses is fucking evil. I can’t say for sure if Bowie would have had more years had he been in a different line of work. Maybe the terrible mortality rate* for younger stars doesn’t hold for those who make it past the crazy years. I guess we’ll see over the next decade or so.

    Bowie was the one non-punk musician who’s music helped me make it through the worse part of my life. Sad doesn’t cover it. Fuck.

    *Fucking iPad isn’t letting me cut and paste. The lead on the study was named Bellis.

  7. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    Re 10:
    I remember hearing that his album, the man who sold the world Was first released with a cover other than the photo he selected. Apparently the first proposal would have been the first cross dressed star. He exemplified and amplified Ambiguity.
    Not a fan but certainly enjoyed all his works

  8. Vivec says

    While I grok your point (and many of my dead favorites like Lou Reed and Klaus Nomi are proof of that), I’m fairly certain that Bowie died of cancer that he’d been fighting for over a year.

  9. auraboy says

    His last album – whether you like the music or not – is a hell of a way to deal with your own impending doom. The guy showed that you can continue to challenge yourself artistically even in your older years (pop star older years obviously as 69 is young for everyone else) – his voice had not diminished a bit and he was trying new things musically even knowing his time was coming up. Genius goes without saying, but the sheer willpower to not be tied down to expectations is the real inspiration for me.

  10. says


    I’m fairly certain that Bowie died of cancer that he’d been fighting for over a year.

    Yes, he did. He and his family tried to keep it very quiet, they didn’t want people to know about the cancer. As far as drugs and all that, if Bowie was going to keel over for that reason, it would have happened back during his Thin White Duke days.

  11. birgerjohansson says

    “The Hunger” with Susan Sarandon had some flaws, but it was a chilling portrayal of our fear of ageing and death.
    — — —
    Rock stars who die one or two days after their birthdays: Lemmy, Bowie… this is uncanny.

  12. says

    An irretrievable loss… again whe world is sadder and poorer place, robbed of what could be achieved by this extraordinary person.

  13. says

    I’m so in denial I’ve decided that it’s a conspiracy and that he’s actually just fine – this is a trick to let him retire somewhere peaceful. Perhaps he’s dyed his hair black or something, but somewhere on a beach there’s an elegant fellow barefoot in linen trousers and a gray t-shirt hiding under a sun hat drinking a gin and tonic and reading baudelaire.

  14. says

    You know, when I was a kid Bowie and Robert Smith from Cure would stare at me from my sister’s walls. To me, they were what men were supposed to look like…
    And I was forever angry that my parents didn’t allow me to watch Labyrinth.

  15. says

    As far as celebrity deaths go, this one makes me tear up more than most. I have a hard time thinking of another artist as consistently innovative, enduring, and inspiring. Thank you, David.

    One reason why I find this hard is that my own father is about the same age…a lot less famous than Bowie, obviously, but with a shared musical inclination. It’s a reminder of our own mortality.

  16. madtom1999 says

    A tragic loss.
    @21 I dont know if its scientifically proven but there’s a whole lot of stories about people keeping going until significant things are achieved. A friend working in a hospice said you could almost guarantee that patients would last through xmas, a birthday or birth of grandchild and then go the next day or so.
    Though in Lemmy’s case he’d only just found out he was ill so that probably doesnt count.

  17. petesh says

    Bowie wrote his own exit, and its his best work in ages. How cool is that?

    I mean artistically he wrote it, I know nothing about the precise circumstances of his passing. I did read a strong suggestion that Lemmy helped himself with morphine, and I dont blame him for that at all, given his diagnosis.

  18. starfleetdude says

    I like what Dave Neiwert had to say about Bowie (from Facebook):

    It’s hard to overstate the effect David Bowie had on people like me — growing up in Idaho, I was wired to be homophobic and provincial about gender and sexual preference. Bowie blew all that up. I thought about LGBT people in a completely different way because of Bowie, even though he eventually proved as steadily hetero as anyone. Most of all he was about liberating ourselves, even the straight kids from rural America. He changed the world for millions of us, and for that I will be forever grateful.
    Those of us who were longtime fans know there are three albums — ‘Hunky Dory,’ ‘Ziggy,’ and ‘Aladdin Sane’ — that were the beating heart of his genius.

  19. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Watching Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence. National TV is showing it in honor of Bowie.

  20. FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!) says

    Vivec #14

    While I grok your point…

    I don’t think you do. Mind you, that’s on me for not making it clear.

    Caine #18

    As far as drugs and all that, if Bowie was going to keel over for that reason, it would have happened back during his Thin White Duke days.

    That’s an argument from ignorance. We don’t know the long term effects of the “Rock ‘n Roll” lifestyle. That it’s an unhealthy one is demonstrable, but what happens after the wild years is, as far as I’m aware, not yet known. There are cancers clearly linked to lifestyle, smoking and lung cancer, melanoma and sun exposure for instance. So it’s not far fetched to say that the abuses of stardom could lead to a propensity for some kinds of cancer later in life.

    Here’s the point I was trying to make: I don’t want anyone shortening their life for my entertainment. No matter how much joy I get from their work I’d rather that they lived a long, happy, healthy life in complete anonymity than have that hanging over me.

    I think we need to look into this properly so that at the very least those going into entertainment know the risks before they start. We also need to sever the romantic cultural notion that excess is a necessary or inevitable part of the creative process. I want the people who’s talent, energy, and creative spark make this fucking ugly world bearable to live in to have every chance to reach a ripe old age. They deserve the chance to live and grow through the full span of a life unlimited by their chosen profession.

    And look, I get that these are the elite I’m talking about. That they’ve huge advantages conveyed upon them by the very fame that might be shortening their lives. But I reject the notion that the cost of those advantages is a fair price to pay. Just as no one dies for my sins, no one should suffer for my entertainment, no matter how meaningful that entertainment was, and is, to my life.

    And now I’m going to go listen to Heroes again. And I’m going to cry, again, and remember how the longing mixed with anger and sorrow that I heard in Bowie’s voice so perfectly matched my own youthful pain. I’m going to remember the shock of understanding it gave me when I realised that I wasn’t alone in those complicated feelings. I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t alone…

    Goodbye David. You never knew how much you helped me.

  21. says

    Fossil Fishy:

    There are cancers clearly linked to lifestyle, smoking and lung cancer, melanoma and sun exposure for instance. So it’s not far fetched to say that the abuses of stardom could lead to a propensity for some kinds of cancer later in life.

    I understood exactly what you were trying to say, and I avoided responding directly, because I didn’t think this was the thread for a ‘go fuck yourself’. People who have never smoked, drank, took drugs, or ate unhealthily die of cancer, every single fucking day. People who have spent decades indulging in just about every ‘vice’, live to a ripe old age, no cancer in sight (Keith Richards – explain him, or rather, don’t). There’s a whole fucking industry making people rich by telling other people that cancer is, one way or another, their fault. I’ve been subject to that shit myself, so don’t. Just fucking don’t.

  22. FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!) says

    You know Caine, there’s a level between “Fuck you!” and not saying anything. All you would have had to do was say “You’re victim blaming.” to me and I would have seriously rethought my post. Clearly, I didn’t consider that aspect of what I was saying. I’m not sure how I feel about that in light of an industry that encourages and even glorifies self destructive behaviour, but your criticism is a valid one.

  23. says

    Heroes is one of the greatest songs I have ever heard. My favorite guitarist, Robert Fripp is lead on that track. Came home from work and listened to Bowie about two hours straight. He was only seven years older than I am. Damm.

  24. magistramarla says

    Giliell @ 26
    “And I was forever angry that my parents didn’t allow me to watch Labyrinth.”

    Ahhh, that is sad. My kids grew up watching Labyrinth. The older ones introduced the younger ones to it. It was one of those films that was played over and over in our house. At one time, I knew all of the songs by heart and could quote many lines from it. Luckily, I loved David Bowie as much as my kids.
    I’m not sure, but I think that I remember a “Friends” episode in which Rachel and Ross were attempting to enroll their child in the same school with (I think) Bowie’s child, and hilarity ensued. Can anyone verify this?

  25. Nes says

    I never got around to finishing it, and I don’t recall meeting his character, but if one enjoys games and doesn’t mind outdated graphics or gameplay one could always go play Omikron: The Nomad Soul. There’s a character in there modeled after him, and for whom I believe he also did the voice acting, and Bowie also wrote a good chunk of the soundtrack. It was developed by the same team that went on to make Fahrenheit (aka Indigo Prophecy) and Heavy Rain.

  26. Nick Gotts says

    This is easy for me to say, because I was never a fan, but Bowie had a very dark side, which some of the other FtB bloggers (Aoife, Heina, Alex – who were fans) discuss. Being a genius does not exempt anyone from the ordinary canons of human decency.

  27. Matt G says

    What an incredibly imaginative and bold talent he was. A great loss to the creative world. I’ve been singing and listening to his music since I found out yesterday.

  28. petesh says

    @Nick Gotts: I never met a saint in my life, though I have met some people who fooled themselves into thinking they were.

  29. Nick Gotts says

    I know a lot of non-saints who have nonetheless never fucked an underage girl or pronounced their support for fascism.

  30. Rob Grigjanis says

    jimatkins @40:

    My favorite guitarist, Robert Fripp…

    Mine too. Apparently Eno got Fripp to play on the album. Possibly on the strength of his solo on Eno’s “Baby’s on Fire” a few years earlier. Fuck, that’s good. He also played on Bowie’s Scary Monsters.

  31. petesh says

    @49: Mistakes made forty-plus years ago should not tar Bowie permanently as having “a very dark side” — they mean he fucked up. He has frequently apologized for the apparently fascist references, which, I think, were more about audiences than anything else. As for the consensual sex with an underage girl, she wasn’t and isn’t complaining, and he hasn’t been busted let alone jumped bail. Doesn’t excuse him, does (for me) leave him open for forgiveness. I forgave him decades ago. Go on, try it: feels good.

  32. Nick Gotts says


    You were dishonest in your first comment (it’s not that Bowie was “not a saint” that is being brought up), and you are dishonest here – they were not “apparent fascist references”, they were explicit statements that he was a “strong believer in fascism”, and that Britain could benefit by having a fascist dictator, along with a fasscination for Hitler – this at a time when fascists were beating up black people and vandalising synagogues in the streets of Britain. That he subsequently recanted these views – as far as I know he never apologised as such – is clearly better than not doing so, but it doesn’t excuse his actions.

    And having sex with an underage girl is not a “mistake”, it’s a crime. As for the “consensual” – the reason we have an age of consent is because people under that age are not considered mature enough to decide for themselves whether they consent. Lori Maddox was 15, a virgin, and under the influence of alcohol and cannabis. It would be much less serious, although still illegal, if the other party was her 15 or 16-year-old boyfriend; Bowie was 25 and world famous. That’s a huge power difference.

    he hasn’t been busted

    Ah, that makes all the difference!
    Oh, wait. No, it doesn’t make any difference at all.

    As for “I forgave him decades ago. Go on, try it: feels good.” – fuck off with that manipulative crap. It’s not for either me or you to forgive him.

  33. petesh says

    Ah, the thread’s dead but I thought I’d check. The “busted” was a reference to Polanski. If it’s not for you to forgive, why is it for you to pontificate about? As someone recently said, fuck off with that manipulative crap.

  34. Nick Gotts says

    The only manipulative crap here is from you: you want Bowie given a pass for shitty behaviour and pat yourself on the back for it; I’m in favour of judging everyone by the same standards. Alan Rickman also died a few days ago – same age as Bowie, and while not quite as famous, as writer, director and actor he had comparable talent. And somehow, seems to have managed to get through his 69 years without once declaring himself a fascist or fucking an underage girl. Must have been a saint, I suppose.

  35. Nick Gotts says

    If it’s not for you to forgive, why is it for you to pontificate about?

    Would you say the same about all the Catholic priests who have sexually abused children? I’d say, just as I do with Bowie, that it’s not for us to forgive them, but even if their victims forgive them, or say the sex was consensual, we are still entitled to “pontificate” (i.e. talk) about it.