I grew up in the age of Bowie. Few other artists captured the hearts and minds of my generation as did Bowie. His music, lyrics, fashion and public persona had a huge impact for those of us growing up in the 70s and 80s. His music was edgy, innovative and raw. From Panic in Detroit to Rebel Rebel and Young Americans. He dreamt of outer space and developed a duo persona of androgyny. Married a super star model wife and broke barriers that young adults can’t imagine today.
That said, there is an undercurrent that few might speak of for our fallen hero. The drug culture that invaded the predominantly white suburban American landscape was fueled, in part, on the lyric-inspired and larger-than-life images of our rock star super heroes. At times, Bowie would make fun of these very images (Fame, Cracked Actor, Rock and Roll Suicide et.al.) Some of the imagery was very jaded and dark. Space Oddity was also an analogy for getting high – all us “kids” knew that. And, many of the youth did that.
The creative genius of Bowie did not create the drug culture. He did not pull any triggers and, later in his career modified that persona including a duet of White Christmas with Bing Cosby and mixing it up with catchy dance numbers. However, there is no denying that a darker aspect took hold and Bowie was a part of that era.
Why bring it up? I adore the music but abhor some of the consequences that are also a part of the genius and genre that he so amazingly performed.