David Bowie was a master of reinvention who influenced generations of musicians, singers and songwriters in a variety of genres. According to his publicist, he died after an 18-month battle with cancer at the age of 69.
From the very beginning, Bowie was a trendsetter who defied standard definitions and labels. His music and appearance was always in motion towards something bolder, something different, something uniquely distinct and powerful.
His songs, which seemed to naturally speak to lifes longings, angst and yearnings, were written from an outsiders perspective and his influence can easily be seen in the works of those who followed in his bold musical and stylistic footsteps like Grace Jones, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper and Nicki Minaj.
His overall musical contributions might have been categorized as Rock, but there was a natural infusion of soul in his compositions and lyrics.
I cant sit here and front like Im a Bowie aficionado. Growing up in my parts of Brooklyn back in the day, we werent rocking out like that.
But I became exposed to his work in prep school and in college, through the lens of my classmates’ musical tastes and the programming of MTV, thinking to myself, Yo, that piece is kinda hot right there! And dude is not definitely not afraid to be himself while pushing the envelope.
It seems I wasn’t the only kid who grew up loving Hip Hop that also dug some of his work, either.
Jay Z sampled Bowie’s certified banger Fame on The Takeover cut from the Blueprint album, as did Public Enemy in its Night of the Living Baseheads on the It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back album.
How funky was fame? Funkier than Patrick Ewing’s underarms in the fourth quarter!!!
Don’t believe me, ask Don Cornelius an’nem on Soul Train back in the day.
Puffy aka Puff aka Diddy aka P Diddy also rocked out on Bowie’s Let’s Dance single to craft the ’90s baller’s anthem, Been Around the World as well.
He also spoke out against MTV, on their own network, back in 1983 about their lack of programming featuring some of the most talented artists in the world, brilliant singers and musicians who just happened to be black.
A lot of people are unaware of the role that David Bowie also played in helping Luther Vandross get his big musical break, an opportunity that would propel him into the mainstream consciousness as one of the greatest Soul and R&B singers ever.
“Luther was singing background vocals and co-writing for artists including Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack before he got his jump start with the dance/disco group Change,” says Ericka Blount-Danois, a college professor, noted music and entertainment writer and the acclaimed author of Love, Peace and Soul: Behind the Scenes of America’s Favorite Dance Show, Soul Train. “But David Bowie gave Luther his big break into the mainstream in 1974 when Luther co-wrote the song Fascination on the same album, Young Americans, where the song Fame launched Bowie into soul households all over the world. Luther went on tour with him and was a vocal arranger and background singer for the album which Bowie considered his first entre into soul music. They both gave each other a musical education.”
Here are my favorite David Bowie joints that I bang today at high volumes:
5: MODERN LOVE
3: UNDER PRESSURE
2: LET’S DANCE