The name’s Bowie. David Bowie.
The name on everybody’s lips at this moment in time. A global outpouring of grief and respect that goes beyond the norm for celebrity.
The world recognises this is not just the death of a pop icon and rock superstar. There’s something more to it.
Why? Many reasons. Let’s throw out a few…
Bowie was unique.
Bowie was cool. In his youth and through to the end.
Bowie’s music spanned generations. Probably everyone in your family has heard of him and knows at least one of his songs.
Bowie dared to be different.
Bowie (like Madonna) had the ability to reinvent himself and stay fresh whilst others withered.
Bowie wrote some brilliant songs and memorable lyric lines.
Bowie transcended music. He was also about writing. Telling a story. Art. Culture. Video. Performance. Dance. The Showman. The Rebel. The Thinker. The Philosopher. The Dreamer. The Curiosity. The Fashionable.
Bowie influenced many others in the worlds of music, fashion and performance.
Bowie was cool.
Bowie was someone who touched millions and millions. In numerous countries around the world.
Bowie had his causes but was less public about them than contemporaries and newcomers.
Bowie battle cancer in private in an age when celebrities are almost expected to share their health frailties with the public.
Bowie left this world in his own way. On his terms. Something edifying about his approach to impending death.
Bowie left quietly. His legacy will stand forever and very loud.
Just imagine how many people right now are playing his music on their mobile, tablet, computer, CD player or even record player.
I remember seeing Bowie live at the Milton Keynes Bowl in the UK more than 25 years ago. It was a fabulous evening. What struck me during the gig was just how many great songs he made. Hit after hit after hit. And also the variety. Yes, each song distinctively Bowie but such a range. Soft. Hard. Slow. Fast. Rock. Pop. Fusion. Serious. Fun. Funky. Dance.
A “best of” CD sits in my collection. I’ve listened to it numerous times over the years. It barely does the guy justice. I realise it’s time to revisit some of this legend’s albums and discover gems yet unheard by my ears.
Other people are saying it but I can say it, too. He was one of my heroes.
As if that was not shock enough, just days later another loss from cancer. This time the actor Alan Rickman.
I’ve watched most of the films he’s appeared in. I hadn’t realised it was role in Die Hard which launched his movie megastardom.
Yes, of course, we all know him as the menacing and enigmatic Professor Snape in the Harry Potter series. But he was much more than that.
He blended humour and evil as the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood with Kevin Costner. I think one of his lines included the words “… and cancel Christmas!”. It added lightness to what could have been a one-dimensional, cliched character.
I’ll remember him best in Truly, Madly Deeply. A wonderful film co-starring Juliet Stevenson. If you’ve not seen it I urge you to. It may be hard (or expensive) to find on DVD and almost impossible to see on the telly.
The acting one almost takes for granted. It’s effortless. But it’s the voice for which he is best remembered. So distinctive. It gave every line an edge, a certain quality. A hint of menace. A whisper of romance. A mesmerising tone.
I’ll forgive him the painfully dull period drama, A Little Chaos, which he directed and starred in. I can forget that in an instant.
But I’ll never forget that voice. It’s boxed up and stored in my memory banks forever.
I didn’t know the guy personally. But from all the accounts it seems Rickman was not only a wonderful actor but a generous one, too. And also very funny with an impish sense of humour. Emma Thompson’s words about him were so touching.
I know people tend to say nice things about colleagues AFTER they have died. But for both Bowie and Rickman there seems to be genuine outpourings from people genuinely moved by their deaths.
Their untimely demise is a shock. It does make me sad. Crazy as it sounds, there are just some people in celebrity land you never want to die.
What lessons are there for you and your business here?
Deliver high quality.
Be creative and innovative.
Set the trend (instead of following it).
Be in tune with (new) media. But never forget the traditional core.
Remember the power of the voice.
Be different. Say something different.
Have a vision.
Extend your skills.
Listen to good advice.
Ignore the crowd. Go your own way.
Be a hero.
What are you waiting for?