David Bowie’s influence and impact on the world of music, fashion, sexuality and individualism will be felt for generations – the musical landscape of the world has been ever altered by his shape-shifting presence – even leaving one last album two days before his death to say goodbye to those who follow in his behemoth soulful footsteps.
One of Bowie’s biggest disciples of rock-n-roll, lead singer of U2, Bono stated it passionately this past week on the band’s website after the passing of the rock legend. “As a teenager,” Bono says, “Bowie was our Elvis. They both took music somewhere no one thought it could go. It was his otherworldliness that took us all away. A sense that we are not just earthbound creatures.”
From Irish rock gods – to makeup wearing dudes in high heels and spitting fire – to a modern-day female version of the glam icon wearing a dress of meat -the living legacy of the “Bowie effect” can be traced through decades of music that is still transforming how and who we listen to today.
T.Rex was the first love child of the glam-rock revolution that Bowie began in the 70s. Even though their reign in the world of music only lasted a few years, until the death of their lead singer, Marc Bolan in 1977, T.Rex broke down barriers of what a male rock band should look and sound like.
U2 has always pushed the boundaries of self-exploration, human rights issues and modern melodic rock-n-roll that can all be traced back to vintage Bowie. Just the influence of Bowie recording in Berlin prompted the Irish lads to reinvent themselves post-blockbuster success of the Joshua Tree album, recording the game-changing Achtung Baby in the same studio as their idol, Hansa Studios.
Joy Division’s post-punk achy layered lyrics bridged the gap into the new wave sound that engulfed the 1980s, with experimental tones of harmony and synthesizers. The band’s biggest success, “Love Will Tear Us Apart” feels as if Bowie himself cultivated the haunting tune.
KISS would have never entertained the idea of slapping on Kabuki-like makeup and 10 inch, platform boots with the face of a demon without the escapades of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars or any other alien-like characters of Bowie. Kiss showed that dudes can still rock hard with lipstick and high-heels.
Prince became the soulful shape-shifting chameleon offspring of the Bowie legacy, stamping his sexually ambiguous symbol on the modern world of rock. The purple one is seemingly channeling Bowie’s vocal power and vulnerability on the epic ballad of “Purple Rain.”
The Smiths/Morrissey took Bowie’s lead in fashion and angst driven lyrics with a flair for moody harmonies, practically inventing the modern indie rock movement of today.
Nirvana became the backbone of the outsider looking in 90s lead in music, even covering a Bowie classic on MTV Unplugged, as the Seattle rockers made “the Man Who Sold the World” one of their own.
Radiohead has always been at the forefront of experimental sound, evocative visuals and stirring song lyrics, a Bowie staple in the world of artistry.
Arcade Fire has always had a strong connection with the Thin White Duke, performing many live versions of the Montreal indie rockers hit, “Wake Up” with Bowie, even using the late singer as a backup vocalist on the 2013 hit song “Reflector.”
Lady Gaga would have never been who she is today without Madonna and Madonna would have never seen the success of fame without heavy doses of David Bowie.
Cage the Elephant/St. Vincent/Arctic Monkeys all have taken up the alien being torch of David Bowie, leading a new wave of artists and singers who have all benefited from the long legacy of the Starman himself.