David Bowie: Why Sheffield took this creative soul to its heart
David Bowie. Icon. Innovator. Inspirational. He was different which is why what should have been his 75th birthday will be celebrated with stardust in Sheffield.
Born David Robert Jones, he became Bowie with a touch of Ziggy Stardust for good measure. Which was the real him? It doesn’t matter, what does is that he did things which moved people as he reinvented himself and his art.
No wonder then, that when he died six years ago his fans felt moved to act. Like they did in Sheffield when a seven ft painting featuring Bowie in the persona of his character Aladdin Sane appeared on a street corner in the city centre.
It divided opinion. Bowie would have approved. His mission was to be creative, which is why he meant so much to Sheffield, a city built by creativity which thrives on being different. Take the Bowie sculpture in Storrs Wood, Stannington, made of CDs, a tribute by superfan Andrew Stoneface Vickers.
Happily, Bowie found time to play here, visiting five times, the first in 1972. He took to the City Hall stage in 1973 and stayed overnight at the Hallam Towers hotel in Broomhill. Bowie later played at the Arena in 1995.
So he had form and what’s more he had family in this area. Bowie’s dad was born in Doncaster and his grandfather ran a successful boot and shoe empire in the town. Fashion? Perhaps that was where it all started.
Wherever it started, you would struggle to follow in his footsteps. During his lifetime, Bowie’s record sales, estimated at over 100 million records worldwide, made him one of the best-selling music artists of all time.
It was because his presentation was so different to anything else, with a stagecraft which many copied but none could repeat. No wonder his shows were so popular. You were never going to see anything like that again.
So here’s to the original Starman from a city which isn’t always understood but which never fails to innovate and delight. That’s why Bowie is a friend no matter which character he was or what style he was presenting. So let’s dance - put on you red shoes and dance the blues.