In 1972 a starman flew down from on high, hips gyrating, red hair flying. With a strum of his hand and a wink of his eye he stopped—and sold—the whole world, changing the face of music and society forever. Yet David Bowie’s legacy doesn’t lie in his sales, his outrageous tours, his provocative outfits, or even in his incredible music. Bowie will live on forever immortalized in his message: live for yourself, and don’t give a damn what anyone else says. He lived that in every aspect of his life. He shook Rock and Roll culture to its core, bending gender in a macho hard rock scene and giving birth to not only the glam movement but to artists like Marilyn Manson and Iggy Pop. He was one of the first openly queer musicians of his time, who gave a voice to the bisexual community. He challenged race in mainstream music, publicly critiquing MTV for shunning what he saw as fantastically talented black musicians. He reinvented himself time and time again, from Ziggy Stardust to the Thin White Duke and finally to the haunting and prophetic Blackstar—a cult like character revealed on his final album of the same name, released Jan. 7, three days before his death on Jan. 10. He lived for himself, those he loved, and for the pure joy of artistic innovation.
Yet for us—his fans, his kooks, his rebels—he was like a light in a storm. Bowie called out to the strange, the weirdos, those children spit on as they tried to change their world. He taught us that no matter what, we are wonderful, just the way we are. For the girl standing defiant before a mirror with a pair of scissors and a clump of hair, the human in bright blue jeans falling in love under the serious moonlight, the young boy belting out the lyrics to ‘Rock n Roll Suicide’ wearing his mother’s bright red lipstick, for us Bowie was our hero, our starman. And I like to think, that somewhere up there in that great big gig in the sky, Ziggy is still playing that guitar.