Column: David Bowie, the soundtrack of my life

The sad and untimely death,of rock legent David Bowie took me back to a moment in time.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 12th January 2016, 9:14 am
David Bowie has Doncaster roots.
David Bowie has Doncaster roots.

The first chords of Starman ring out and an ethereal, impish figure, not obviously male or female, bounds across the stage of Newcastle City Hall circa 1973 and the crowd erupts.

I was 14 or 15 and half of the fourth form of my school were in the stalls that night. We’d eagerly anticipated the concert standing in the playground in excited groups in the weeks before and we relived every moment of a magical night in the weeks that followed.

For me, and many of my peers, David Bowie was one of a handful of artists who created the soundtrack of our lives.

As the tributes this week will highlight, he was original and unique. Rock music back then was the domain of the heavy metal heroes and the charts were filled with anodyne, formulaic pop.

And then came Bowie, who didn’t really fit in any box. He had an exotic and glamorous hinterland too with film and mime among his accomplishments.In the drab 70s the bohemian Bowie brought a welcome splash of colour.

And then there was his ability to wind up our parents, always a good thing to a teenager. Take your mind back to an era when there was no streaming of music, no video even. If we wanted a glimpse of our heroes we were restricted to a handful of music programmes on TV, chief among them Top of the Pops. If one of your favs appeared on it, it really did make your week.

I can still picture my dad, a no nonsense working class Geordie, getting very hot under the collar when David Bowie first flounced - as he would have it - across the small screen that my sister and I sat glued to: “Is it a man or a woman?” “He’s wearing make-up!” swiftly followed by “And a dress!” He’d sit chuntering under his breath for the entire three minutes, much to our irritation/amusement. If the conversation in the school bus queue the next day was anything to go by, dads across the North East were going apopletic simultaneously. Result.

I stuck with Bowie down the decades of jazz influenced albums and experimental periods, but it is the early albums, and Ziggy Stardust in particular, that I return to time and time again.

My husband and I bonded over our love of Bowie back in the day too, and still do.

In our house this week, as in many others, the music has died.