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The Stars Look Very Different Today – What Bowie Meant to Me

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By Jack Rea

I woke up today to some rather shocking news and I felt I had to write something about it. Music legend David Bowie passed away aged 69, two days after his birthday and the release of his latest experimental album “Blackstar.”

Aged twenty, I am one of the few people in my age-group who can claim they have seen Bowie perform live. Admittedly I was only two at the time, but I have been informed by my parents that I boogied more enthusiastically than most audience members. I partied like it was 1997. However it was not until much later in my life that David Bowie’s music would begin to make a more firm impact.

I had grown up with parents who were big Bowie fans. Hence my ability to give the coolest answer imaginable to the question: “What was your first gig?” I had discovered the CD of Hunky Dory on the shelf, but refused to listen to any other song than “Life on Mars” on repeat. I felt it was very important I learnt all the words, and it’s still to this day one of the few songs I can sing from start to finish. From that point on wards I was very much aware of Bowie, I knew many of the big singles from the radio, but he took a backseat in my musical explorations until age eighteen I left home for University and ended up in Manchester.

This was a big experience for me and totally unlike the small world of the West Midlands that I was used to. I was suddenly in a huge city, knowing nobody and uncertain about the future. I spent much of the early weeks exploring Manchester by myself, seeing what the city had to offer. I ended up on Market Street as most people do and stepped into the largest HMV I had ever seen. Three stories of music were laid out in front of me and I felt like I was time travelling throughout the history of music. It was a sad day when a year later the store shut down and relocated to the Arndale, only to be replaced by a discount pound shop.

I found myself drawn to a section of the shop on none-other than Bowie himself. Rows upon rows of his albums greeted me. I don’t know what happened in that instant, but rather foolishly a fairly size-able chunk of my first student loan quickly disappeared as I left the shop with a three-disc CD of Bowie’s back-catalog and a T-Shirt of the man’s face. I returned wearing the T-Shirt months later when Bowie came out of his reclusive hiatus with his surprise album “The Next Day.”

The first months of University were difficult, as I’m sure many people will relate to. I honestly think that David Bowie was a large part of my coping mechanism. I felt that by listening to his music I was developing as a person, he helped me to become more confident in myself. It’s difficult to describe but I just wanted to say something of what Bowie meant to me.

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say we have just lost the most talented and influential rock star on the planet. I’m sorry, Kanye but your declaration was a bit premature.

Jack is a third year English student and self-proclaimed Whovian who also enjoys film and live music. You can read his blog here.

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aAh! Magazine is Manchester Metropolitan University's arts and culture magazine.

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