PAUL STAINTON: The rise and rise of David Bowie

David Bowie

David Bowie

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“I don’t know where I am going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring” – It’s not a bad motto to live your life by and David Bowie, who sadly passed away this week, certainly lived up to every inch of it.

Whether or not you liked his constantly evolving persona, his revolutionary musical theatre or his fashion sense, you cannot argue against the fact that this man cccchanged things and influenced generations of teenagers in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.

He certainly annoyed my dad on Top of The Pops and anybody that annoyed my dad on a Thursday night was cool in my book.

My mum took against the Starman too when my elder brother decided to attempt a home spun, Ziggy Stardust makeover, complete with fluorescent orange hair. It took six weeks to get the colour out and even longer for us to stop calling my brother “Jaffa.”

But this was the straight laced, brown corduroy seventies, where you were thought of as slightly “out there” if you had a lava lamp in the corner of your sitting room or a tie dye shirt hanging in your wardrobe.

Middle class white people were still making racist fun of black and Asian people on the telly and women were being treated as second class citizens in the workplace, whilst coping with the odd bit of casual sexism and groping.

Yet amidst that grim backdrop, here was a man/woman/alien, cocking a snoop at authority, fashion, music and sexual stereotypes, all whilst belting out pop tunes that became a soundtrack for many people’s adolescence.

His demeanour frightened and confused parents in equal measure, men were men in father’s book and women were women, here was something in the middle – “Weirdo,” was the cry every time he made an appearance on the telly and it didn’t take long for the 
big button to be pressed 
and the channel to be changed.

I am sure my dad thought that he would pervert us all in an instant and have boys pulling on dresses and high heel shoes, before reaching for their sister’s eyeliner and lipstick.

Our parents had no need to be concerned for our moral fortitude, we knew right from wrong and we had respect for our elders. We didn’t go around punching grandmas and stealing their handbags in pub car parks, or riding off on other people’s bikes in broad daylight, we knew better.

Bowie’s was not a corrupting influence, it was a positive and enlightening one, promising the young that they could be whoever and whatever they wanted to be.

Society and attitudes have changed so much since David Bowie first burst onto the scene in the late 60’s, early 70’s and it seems strange now that he caused such a kerfuffle.

But you have to remember that he was unique, nothing of his ilk had even been seen before and might never be again.

He paved the way for others and influenced everybody from the Cure to Lady Gaga, Madonna to Jay Z and his inspiration lives on despite his untimely demise.

I didn’t like everything he did, but then that’s the point, he wouldn’t want us to.

We were just supposed to enjoy the ride, strung out on lasers and slash back blazers, watching all the children boogie.