Before my feet touched the cold floor out of my bed Monday morning, I learned that David Bowie died from my almost 10-year-old daughter. Bowie died at the age of 69 surrounded by his family following a “courageous” 18-month battle with cancer.
“David Bowie died, mom,” said Sascha Iman walking into my room. (And yes, her middle name comes from Bowie’s wife, actress, entrepreneur and legendary model Iman).
So for a second, I was startled by the fact that she even knew David Bowie was speaking of his passing. But clearing the blur of morning from my eyes, my mini-me gives me that,look—she has been raised listening to all types of music, so much so that she’s laser-focused on becoming a singer when she grows up. “I know a little something.”
A little later, after posting the song I remember jamming to when I was her age, “Let’s Dance,” on Facebook, my brother mentions that it was one of the first videos he remembers seeing. I remind him that it’s the first video that we ever recorded from the TV back in the day.
Halfway through the day, tributes to Bowie are flooding the internet, and rightfully so. He was a musical chameleon who didn’t follow the trends, he created them and had a remarkable skill for remaining fearless and colorful in all of his art. Bowie was one of the most influential musicians in rock, and music, period. Each one of his phases in the ’70s sparked a number of subgenres including punk, new wave, goth rock, the new romantics, and electronica. Few rockers ever had such lasting impact.
Born David Jones, he began performing music at 13. Though his music peak was said to be in the 70s, Bowie’s music features acoustic rock instrumentation, jazz influences, a subtle use of vocal harmony, a prominent rhythm piano part and acoustic sonority.
OK, but still, ‘What does that have to do with me?’ you might be asking.
Yesterday, Puffy (who sampled “Let’s Dance” in his mega-hit “Been Around The World”) gave Bowie credit for giving him the courage to keep growing as an artist and person:
“One of the reasons why I always had The courage to change my names and reinvent myself was because of David Bowie. He lived so many different lives. And he did his way. David Bowie God bless you. Rest in peace!”
Whether you know him as Major Tom, Ziggy Stardust or Aladdin Sane, Bowie’s impact on music, fashion and film has been immeasurable.
Here are a few facts on why he was so important not only to the music he made, but had a deep appreciation and respect for Black music:
He spoke up:
Among the tributes being shared online to David Bowie, many are praising the late glam rock singer for challenging MTV for refusing to play music by Black people in 1982. In the middle of an on air interview, he suddenly asked: “Why are there practically no Black artists on the network?”
David Bowie and Luther Vandross collaborated at the beginning of Luther’s career (he was about 19 or 20 at the time) and the partnership was one that helped both of them. Luther helped shape Bowie’s new soulful sound for Young Americans, while Luther went on tour with Bowie for about 2 years before becoming a household name.
His last performance was in 2006 with Alicia Keys:
Bowie last performed live alongside Alicia Keys in November 2006 at her Keep a Child Alive’s annual Black Ball fundraiser at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom. The pair sung the iconic “Changes,” and the set would become his last public performance after his agent announced in October 2015 he would “never tour again.”
His final album, Blackstar, was released two days ago to mark his 69th birthday; and the record will now take on a new meaning with his passing.
Hip-hop loves David Bowie:
Watchloud counts 32 different rap songs that sampled David Bowie throughout the years.
Some of the tracks include Ice, Ice Baby by Vanilla Ice, which sampled Bowie’s Under Pressure and The Takeover by Jay-Z, which sampled Bowie’s Fame.
And then there’s Iman:
If you follow Iman on Twitter or Instagram, you’ll know that she’s always uplifting, and sometimes sassy, but lately her posts had become more somber. Just days before his death, she posted the following message on her Twitter account:
Rest in peace and power, David.