The 411 Magazine The 411 Issue 1 Jan/Feb 2017 - Page 39
R . I . P | 1947 - 2016
There is so much serendipity in writing this article about Bowie that , fittingly , it ' s almost as if stars have collided throughout my , and I ' m sure your , travels with Mr Jones . Travelling home tonight after experiencing ‘ Lazarus ’, his parting gift , I was reminded of my joy at the beginning of 2013 when he gave us the single ‘ Where Are We Now ’ after we had had been starved of any new offerings for almost a decade . I would have settled with that , from his unannounced retirement , his subtle hibernation but he then dropped the album ‘ The Next Day ’ on us . We all should have known then , our seer , our leader , has always sent us songs full of perception and wisdom and here he was , hinting about something dreadful and yet we were too full of our own happiness to see his troubles . Indeed , we were reigniting the party as ‘ Black Star ’ was unveiled to us . By now he wasn ' t being subtle and yet our party was so fully swinging we still didn ' t hear him , not waving , but drowning . ‘ Lazarus ’, it really couldn ' t have been called anything else . Meticulously planned , the resurrection not of the body but of the music and the words , the gifts remain , even if the giver has since departed . The play that he so passionately wanted to leave for us , once more picked the itchy scab of madness that haunted his childhood and recurred through the various personas he created for Mr Bowie to unveil his talent . His character Thomas Newton is now played by the huge talent that is Michael C Hall . All of the cast will astound us with their abilities especially their vocal performances . ‘ Lazarus ’, the sequel to ‘ The Man Who Fell to Earth ’, Bowie ' s most famous role , sees Thomas
Newton in his New York Apartment descending into understandable madness as he finds himself forever shipwrecked on Earth , far from the loving family he will never see again . This theme began a career of stardom in 1969 for David Jones with his own Starman ,
Major Tom , and saw Bowie touch on the theme of madness and isolation over and over . Lazily labelled pop ' s Chameleon , he was so much more . A leader , a prophet , he always happened to be there first . Out of his folk / rock beginning to pioneering the glam rock seventies it was no surprise that he was accepted and continually praised throughout the punk / new wave / new romantic turn of that decade , why ? Because he had already done tha . Half the punks ’ and new romantics ’ inspiration was owed to a young man growing up in the South London / Kent suburbs who owed his own success to the need to know , his quest for knowledge , particularly the arts . Ironically , it was a quest for acceptance . In the following decades , before any stars were issuing their music independently , Bowie had offered his back catalogue on the stock market andbefore the great download deluge , Bowie had conquered the internet . We marvel at his quiet ingenuity , his calm dignified transition to the other side and yet we should have known that he had planned every last detail , just as he always did . My love for his music began in the mid-seventies and his gift to me outside of both an aural and visual inspiration was the fun in still finding new things in there four decades later . To still be moved by his passion , whatever current trends are in music . He remains current , contemporary and visionary . I have met some of , indeed most of , my heroes and many more besides . I generally feel comfortable in their company , " treat them like a star and they ' ll treat you like a fan " has been my observation and rule of thumb . But when I met David Bowie , our conversation was brief yet friendly and he did not disappoint , my Starman , my star . I can honestly say I got butterflies and I did what every fan shouldn ' t do : I told him I loved him , then signed a couple of things for me , including a painting . For fifteen years I regretted saying that . Since January 2016 I haven ' t . From January 10th the obituary column writers were about to get the most overtime they had seen in decades , the year offered up a host of the most loved and talented human beings on the planet , as they , like Thomas Newton ’ s dream , shuffled off this rock . Guess who was leading the way , standing at the front of the queue ? When David Bowie ’ s image appeared at the end of the play , the standing ovations and rapturous applause melted away to leave a kind of holy reverence , a cool respect for this man . The cast of ‘ Lazarus ’ were inspirational tonight , led by the light of his glittering star and so I urge you to see this amazing performance and if you can , with this current cast . They exude Bowie ’ s magic in their performances , they are so heartfelt that they reduced my other half to tears . I guess that they don ' t want to disappoint the old man . You feel he is there in the room , somewhere . Hey look up here . I ' m in heaven .
James Wilkinson is Artist in Residence at Hylands House and Official Artist to the V Festival