Remembering the starman

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From+left%3A+Jess+Hurst%2C+Alexis+Stewart%2C+Sarah+Lane%2C+Cait+Cool+and+Briana+Mayer+pose+for+a+photograph+during+Totally+Bowie+Thursday+on+Jan.+14+at+the+V-Club.
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Remembering the starman

From left: Jess Hurst, Alexis Stewart, Sarah Lane, Cait Cool and Briana Mayer pose for a photograph during Totally Bowie Thursday on Jan. 14 at the V-Club.

From left: Jess Hurst, Alexis Stewart, Sarah Lane, Cait Cool and Briana Mayer pose for a photograph during Totally Bowie Thursday on Jan. 14 at the V-Club.

Lukas Hagley

From left: Jess Hurst, Alexis Stewart, Sarah Lane, Cait Cool and Briana Mayer pose for a photograph during Totally Bowie Thursday on Jan. 14 at the V-Club.

Lukas Hagley

Lukas Hagley

From left: Jess Hurst, Alexis Stewart, Sarah Lane, Cait Cool and Briana Mayer pose for a photograph during Totally Bowie Thursday on Jan. 14 at the V-Club.

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“Look up here, I’m in Heaven,” a familiar voice cooed over noir saxophones. “I’ve got scars that can’t be seen.” David Bowie’s final single and music video, “Lazarus,” is the tragically reflective ballad left behind in the wake of his sudden death Jan. 10. After an 18-month, secret battle with an unspecified cancer, the legendary musician, artist and actor passed away in New York City. Bowie’s final album, “Blackstar,” was released just days before his death, cumulating unanimous critical and fan praise.

At 69 years of age, Bowie left his fans 25 wildly eclectic studio albums, numerous film and television appearances and decades of inspiration. One of the first popular entertainers to display and promote individuality and sexual androgyny, Bowie’s signature style remains an icon of the 1970s.

Though his early Ziggy Stardust persona won him legions of fans, Bowie shifted gears musically and visually countless times throughout his career. Ranging from the timely, folk-tinged “Honky Dory,” to the sonically experimental “Heroes” and “Low,” Bowie was never content staying in one area of music (or art, for that matter) for too long. Bowie’s limitless ambition and ability to carefully manipulate every aspect of his music’s production inspire artists to this day.

Artists including Madonna, Marilyn Manson, Kanye West, Lady Gaga and others have all acknowledged a debt to Bowie’s trailblazing career and shifting personas. Bowie’s influence is apparent not only in the realm of entertainment, but also in the lives of local fans. 

Tri-State theatre star and musician, Ryan Hardiman, said he felt a huge loss at the artist’s passing. “I can’t bring myself to speak of him in the past tense, because through his work and influence he achieves immortality in the hearts of so many. To me, Bowie simply is.

A die-hard fan since Bowie’s 1983 album “Let’s Dance,” Hardiman performs his annual cabaret act, “Moonage Daydream: The Bowie Songbook,” each New Year’s Eve with pianist, Mark Scarpelli.

We share a respect and love for Bowie’s music,” Hardiman said. “We started tossing around the idea of creating an evening of it, arranged by Scarpelli and performed on piano, vocals and a string quartet. There are so many layers to explore in all of his music. Bowie seems to transcend generation and genre to appeal to a very wide audience. I love performing his work because it comes from an otherworldly, but very real, and timeless place… It feels right to me.”

Bowie’s influence on the art world is evident on Marshall’s campus. Having transcended music and maintained a steady acting career, Bowie’s numerous film appearances were instantly iconic.

“He was primarily a musical artist, but he also had a very striking visual image,” said Montana Rock, a senior in Marshall’s theatre department. “It wasn’t made to sell things, it was just a part of his act. You can see over the course of his career that he continued to re-invent himself, not for any need of popularity or sales. Coming from an acting perspective, the man understood presentation. I remember when I was a kid, I rented ‘Labyrinth’ 10 or 12 times.”

Huntingtonians took to social media to promote tribute events during the week of Bowie’s death. Local venue, The V-Club hosted an all-Bowie night Thursday, Jan. 14 to remember the late legend.

“There is absolutely no way that you can be some kind of a freak or a weirdo, or creative individual without owing some debt to Bowie,” said V-Club resident artist, DJ Feminasty. “I appreciate him more as a cultural icon. 80s Bowie is my favorite. [Fellow V-Club DJ] Charlie Brown Superstar likes the 70s, so I let him focus more on Bowie’s earlier career and I tried to focus on the 80s, up until ‘Blackstar.’”

An artist who never remained stagnant, Bowie was considered one of the definitive musicians of his generation. An early declaration of his bisexuality made Bowie the first popular artist to identify with, and liberate, the global LGBT community in a time when queer visibility was only a far-off idea. 

Flowing seamlessly from genre to genre, Bowie’s vast musical catalogue results from his myriad influences and boundless ambition, and is a true testament to the power of self-reinvention. Bowie made it okay to be weird. Bowie accepted the misunderstood. Thank you, Mr. Bowie, for showing us that we could be heroes. Forever and ever. 

Lukas Hagley can be contacted at [email protected]

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