David Bowie: The King of Reinvention
Like many, I woke up Monday morning to discover David Bowie had died following an 18-month private battle with cancer, or as some folks in my Twitter feed hoped, he had simply gone back to his home planet.
The loss of this charismatic rock legend shook the world, inspiring many to share our favorite moments of his illustrious career.
My earliest memories of Bowie are my mom playing his 1983 hit "Let's Dance" and dancing around our living room together, watching Labyrinth countless times, and having either one of my parents turn the volume up whenever "Golden Years" or "Changes" came on the car radio. My mom would tell me about his Ziggy Stardust character from the 70s and I would think, "Whoa ... this guy is so weird ... and so cool."
Yep, just what me and countless others of all ages thought.
Bowie was a chameleon. He pulled on new identities — new skins — and wore them about, making something amazing while in them, then shedding them for the next. He was more than Ziggy Stardust or Aladdin Sane or Jareth the Goblin King, he was the King of Reinvention and Innovation, and he did it with class and style.
Born David Jones, he changed his name in 1966 at age 19 after Davy Jones achieved fame, concerned at possibly being confused with the wholesome, young-faced Monkee. At 19 I was preoccupied with who knows what, but I doubt it was taking the first steps of building a personal brand.
Not David Bowie. He knew he needed — and wanted — to set himself a part. David Bowie was always unapologetically Bowie.
Over the next 40-plus years, that's exactly what he did, spanning the divides of sexuality, gender, musical styles, film, characters ... he did it all, and he did it because that's who he was. No one questioned what he did ... we all knew it was Bowie creating new art.
We could all stand to learn a thing or two from The Thin White Duke, as marketers, as dreamers, as humans.