by Evert Cilliers aka Adam Ash
I once met David Bowie in London in 1972. He was wearing a pastel-pink, wide-brimmed, floppy, very girly hat. His face was lightly dusted with powder, his lips shone with a touch of gloss, his eyes sported pale blue eyeliner.
He was beautiful, ethereal, and otherworldly. Also friendly: an amused smile on his face, probably amused at my stuttering admiration. He seemed a creature from another dimension, a sprite, a ghost, an elf, a race unto himself. A presence more than a person. I felt I needed an unknown language to communicate with him. English would not be enough.
His smile appeared to appreciate me from a distance. He neither indulged nor disdained my admiration, simply took it. A gracious fellow. A gentleman. In fact, he was grace personified. Elegance emblemized.
Let's face it, the man had style. Like no other. He looked great, whether he was glammed out as Ziggy Stardust, or suited as the Thin White Duke.
I've related to Bowie — more than to Dylan and Lennon, my other pop heroes — because he kept changing. He showed us there is more than one way to be in the world. He made being an outsider OK. He made art out of alienation. Gender, music, identity — all was very fluid to him. I found him more congenial as a fellow creature than other stars, because he was so different, so original, and so various.
And his songwriting was pretty weird on top of being utterly wonderful — think of straight pop songs like Starman and Let's Dance, and then of really weird songs like Is There Life On Mars? and Space Oddity and Cygnet Committee.
Bowie was a freak. Who else was as freakily different and original as Bowie? And who has had such an influence on his fellow practitioners? One could not imagine Madonna without him, or Lady Gaga.