As the world rocks with the news that David Bowie has passed away aged 69, lifelong fan Candice Pires explains why he had such an impact...
From parties to hangovers. From the suburbs to the city. From my parents to my sisters to my friends to my husband to my daughter. David Bowie has always been there – serious in a silver bodysuit, delicate in a boxy jacket and flashing that sharp-toothed smile that says, ‘Do it. I am.’
I was six when Labyrinth came out, so my sister must have been three. It would have been at least a year later that my dad taped it off the telly. The two of us watched that video ’til it started jumping. It was typical Bowie – thrilling, strange, a little bit scary and just too much fun. We couldn’t take our eyes off the screen.
From then until today, aged 35, I’m into anyone who can catcall back and forth, ‘You remind me of the babe / What babe? / The babe with the power / What power? / Power of voodoo / Who do? / You do.’
Throughout secondary school while I jumped between musical genres, I constantly cycled through Bowie’s back catalogue. My parents had all his albums – Ziggy Stardust on vinyl, Heroes on cassette, Sound + Vision on CD. He had a universal appeal that made my dad want to sing like him and my mum get her eye shadow as vivid as his. Bowie’s voice became not so much a comfort blanket as a massive spangly cape.
I loved his story: I could identify with growing up in the London suburbs and thinking it was weird for its blandness. And in turn, I suspected that it thought I was weird for my tastes. I idolised Bowie for coolly rejecting those roots and being uncompromising in what he wanted to be.
The foundation of my relationship with my best friend was thinking we would have been better off as teenagers in the mid-70s than the mid-90s. Watching old broadcasts of Bowie playing ‘Oh! You Pretty Things’ on the piano, with perfect posture and sunken eyes, we both wanted to be – we both still want to be – who he was singing about when he says: ‘Don’t you know you’re driving your mamas and papas insane.’
When we finally made the city our home, I would drunkenly get on the decks at parties and Bowie would be the first record I’d reach for. Just the clang of the opening guitars of Rebel Rebel would have us jumping and hitting our heads in my friend’s small basement in a rundown house in Hackney. Long before any of us were thinking of weddings, someone asked if I’d DJ at theirs if they ever got married – purely because the set would definitely include Modern Love.
What’s amazing about Bowie is that I never don’t want to hear his music. A year ago my boyfriend and I got married. It was a tiny ceremony at Islington Town Hall. Although one my favourite songs is The Prettiest Star, it felt too cheesy. So we signed the register to Drive-In Saturday. It was random but there were just too many favourites to choose from – and he had to be there.
Last Saturday morning, we were driving into a supermarket car park when our two-year-old daughter asked, ‘What music is this?’ ‘David Bow-ee,’ said my husband. ‘David Bough-ee,’ I said, ‘Do you like it?’ ‘Yes, it’s good’ she replied. We did our shop and when we came back and the iPod played on, I asked her, ‘Do you remember what music this is?’ ‘The man with the colours on his face,’ she said. She’d seen the Aladdin Sane album cover.
And that’s what we’ve been calling him all week, ‘The man with the colours on his face.’ I’m hoping she’ll never stop liking it.
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