Editor music publication Q Magazine Paul Stokes and DJ Bob Harris react to the news of David Bowie’s death, as tributes across London are seen.
LONDON, ENGLAND, UK (JANUARY 11, 2015) (REUTERS) – A friend of David Bowie from across his early music career was shocked to hear on Monday (January 11), that the music legend had died from cancer.
British DJ and former music presenter Bob Harris compared his death to hearing when John Lennon had died.
“I’m still trying to come to terms with this news. The way that I heard the news, was very similar to the way I heard about John Lennon’s passing. In other words, I woke up this morning, my phone was going, It had just been ringing off the hook ever since and coming into today thinking David’s not around anymore. He’s been absolutely a part of my life since I began to edge my way into the music industry,” he said.
In a tribute to Bowie, Harris praised his friend for constantly innovating his style of music across his career.
“He was a chameleon. He reinvented himself so many times, but it was such a good thing in so many ways, because he was never happy just to rest on his laurels. To lean back on just being David Bowie. He always wanted to break new ground,” he added.
On one occasion Harris had taken Bowie with him to a venue in East London where he was Dj-ing before the London-born rockstar was famous.
“David had come with me and he had a little tiny speaker, down the front of which you could slot a cassette and on the cassette he had the back track of Space Oddity, which was going to be his forthcoming single. He had his acoustic guitar with him, and so right in the middle of the evening I said; “Right everybody there is this new artist I want you to hear. David came out on stage and of course the dancing stopped and everyone was standing there and people began to boo and get very agitated. Eventually he had to leave the stage and I remember walking back into the middle of the stage saying; “You remember this night. This guy is going to be a star I’m telling you. You remember the name David Bowie.” Still that is an absolutely vivid memory of mine,” he said.
Just days before his death Bowie released Blackstar, his 25th studio album, it was to be his last.
“Listening to it this morning, you realise it his last testament artistically and there is obviously so much loaded stuff in there and it is amazing you didn’t look at it before and think; is he well? What’s going on? You listen to that record now and think of course. This is a man who lived his life as an artwork going out as an artwork,” said Paul Stokes, editor of Q music magazine.
He added that Bowie should be remembered as one of Britain’s finest ever artists.
“You look back at great art and you think that was the year when Van Gogh was alive or that was the era when this painter was doing this or this novelist existed. I think we have taken Bowie a little bit for granted as a culture. He’s always been there, he’s made records that aren’t quite as good, he’s made records that are the greatest records you will ever hear. I think now we are going to move into an era when give it ten or fifteen years and people will look back and say how was it to be alive when Bowie was alive. I think it’s the death of a major British artist. Up there with Turner and Constable. That kind of impact on the culture around them and also defining the art form in which they worked in,” Stokes said.
“He is one of the greatest rock and roll stars ever, but probably something bigger, someone who has shaped 20th and 21st century culture,” he added.
Bowie, died of cancer aged 69 on Sunday (January 10), his Facebook page said.
A chameleon visionary, he straddled the worlds of hedonistic rock, fashion and drama for five decades, pushing the boundaries of music and his own sanity to produce some of the most innovative songs of his generation.