The news spread like wildfire yesterday morning that the incredibly talented and forever iconic David Bowie had passed away at the age of 69, succumbing to a secret eighteen month battle with cancer. Music fans both young and old have been mourning the death of a legend, with thousands of adoring fans taking to social media and sharing stories about being lucky enough to see and even meet Ziggy Stardust in the flesh.
Here’s a collection of the best anecdotes about the late genius that have been flying around Facebook, Twitter and beyond on this sad day for music and culture.
Journalist Philip Byrne remembers a wonderful story about Bowie’s good natured character back in the day, even during a case of offensive mistaken identity.
“I interviewed Ranking Rodger from The Beat on the phone once. He told me how they’d supported Bowie at a stadium UK show back in the mid eighties. They were in their dressing room before the show, Bowie poked his head around the door and asked if they were all good and ready. Their trombone player, an elderly Jamaican man with no clue who David Bowie was, started complaining that they’d been promised another tray of Red Stripe. The band stood dumbstruck and…
@PhilipNByrne At the hapless geezer. A few moments later, Bowie came in, two trays of Red Stripe in his arms, all smiles. Top man.
— Philly Byrne (@PhilipNByrne) January 11, 2016
Russ Johnston from New York city had another great tale of The Thin White Duke not being recognised.
In 1989 I was working as a video disc jockey at The Ritz rock club in New York’s East Village. It meant being in charge of all the videos which were played in the club. One day, while setting up for the evening’s entertainment, a slightly scruffy man appeared in the club.
I wasn’t sure who he was but figured he had something to do with an act that might be playing. I remember saying to him “man, if you shaved your beard you’d make a pretty good David Bowie lookalike.” He kinda laughed and carried on doing what he was doing and then left.
The next day, again setting up for the evening’s entertainment, the club’s stage manager, called me over. He asked me if I’d be so kind as to let his guest hear the club’s sound system – his guest was one D Bowie.
That’s when I realised that I’d told David Bowie he would look like himself if he bothered to shave.It turns out he was scouting locations to shoot a music video and he chose our club. Within a week his entourage had moved in and the filmed a medley of material for his then soon to be released album Tin Machine.
Gwen Kerr from Nova Scotia, Canada almost set herself on fire in front of Bowie.
It was in the late ’70s, in Ottawa, Canada, at one of David Bowie’s early, spectacular concerts. I came prepared with my Bic butane lighter that I would wave in the air along with just about everyone else in the stadium. Unfortunately, mine was a dud. As I lit it it sprayed lighter fluid all over my arm and I caught fire.
All that mattered to me was that David Bowie was looking and pointing right at me! The fluid burnt away quickly and the fire went out so there was no real harm done and I had the thrill of my young life knowing that I had been “seen”. I know that Mr. Bowie was likely pointing for security reasons, but I know I saw him smile – a gesture that has been close to my heart ever since.
Jeff Hardcastle from London was lucky enough to enjoy a bit of shopping with the ever elusive star.
“I once saw Bowie in an art shop in Rathbone Place just off Oxford street, he was buying paints and brushes. I could not believe this amazing rock star was in the same shop as me. Trouble was, I don’t think anybody else in the shop even noticed him, and clearly not the young girl who served him.”
A number of Londoners also took to the internet to talk about what Bowie meant to them and their beloved capital city.
Jane Garvey’s tweet reinforced the lasting effect that Bowie had on absolutely everybody…
— Jane Garvey (@janegarvey1) January 11, 2016
While Carol Drinkwater’s memory is both inspiring and humble, but also heart breaking…
David Bowie, dead? I used to travel to London with him on the train from Bromley. We talked about dreams of stardom… A tragedy. RIP, David
— Carol Drinkwater (@Carol4OliveFarm) January 11, 2016