Saturday, October 16, 2021

‘Ziggy Stardust’ icon remembered

Hales Passino

From his flashy fashion and iconic voice in the rock music industry to his fond acting career on the big screen, David Bowie is timeless.

David Robert Jones, professionally known as David Bowie, was one of the most influential music figures the 20th century had to offer. He was rather repulsed by his real name and wanted a change.

After some trial and error, he finally decided on being Bowie. It was in homage to Jim Bowie, a Texan rebel protagonist in the 1960 historical war film, “The Alamo,” as mentioned in Far Out Magazine. Besides the name provided, it also helped him stand out and connect to American audiences.

Some of his best known songs are the far out “Space Oddity,” the catchy and reflective “Changes” as well as the collaborative “Under Pressure” in which he sang alongside British rock band Queen.

The 1972 studio album “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” is what turned Plattsburgh a resident Tom Shirley into more than a casual fan of Bowie.

“It is a really cohesive work,” Shirely said. “I find myself sort of lost in time from the first rat-a-tat of the snare drum in ‘Five Years’ to the final chord in ‘Rock and Roll Suicide.’”

However, Shirley finds that Bowie’s later work also appeals to him as he gets older. People can grow with Bowie’s music.

“That was where he really hit his stride as a musician and he has tons of great music after that,” Shirley said. “To me, ‘Ziggy Stardust’ was the best album from start to finish.”

Bowie’s file of noncomforming style in terms of music and fashion was exceptionally important and groundbreaking in the industry. Alexis Nelson, another fan from the North Country, describes Bowie as wild and “out there.” She believes the boundaries he broke with gender allowed others to feel more comfortable dressing outside of their comfort zones. He heavily communicated individuality in the purest form of self expression.

He jolted from this charismatic and posh mod look of the late 1960s to a series of ethereal creatures from the 1970s and on. The Starman’s style proved to be out of this world throughout the years. From elegant floral dresses and vivid vinyl jumpsuits to red mullets and the trademark red and blue lightning bolt across the face, Bowie owned each look.

“I personally feel that without David dressing the way he did, we would not have had Harry Styles on the cover of Vogue in a dress,” Nelson said.

Bowie was an advocate for allowing people to express themselves however they desired.

“He was always changing his style and sound, never following trends,” Shirley said.

Instead, he made them.

Nelson discovered him when she was about four years old. Her mother pulled out the 1986 film “Labyrinth,” and the rest is history. Bowie played the character Jareth, who was the king of goblins and romantic interest to main character Sarah Williams, played by Jennifer Connelly.

“Bowie brought the character to life because he was a lot like Jareth in real life,” Plattsburgh area resident Dakota Martin said. “Eccentric and just [had] a powerful image in general.” Bowie has also appeared in other movies such as “Just a Gigolo” and “The Man Who Fell to Earth.”

Nelson also appreciates Bowie’s music greatly. Her favorite tune of his isn’t actually a studio recording, but a live performance of “Band Bang” from the Glass Spider Tour. She also received the compilation album “Bowie at the Beeb” on vinyl for her birthday this year.

“It sounds like he’s just chilling in the room next to you singing and you get to sit back and enjoy the show,” Nelson said.

The album is beautifully done in her opinion.

“I’m not a prophet or a stone aged man, just a mortal with potential of a superman. I’m living on.” – David Bowie, Quicksand (1971).

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