When heads of government, astronauts, the Archbishop of Canterbury and a Vatican spokesman comment on the death of a rock musician, as happened on 10 January 2016, it is an extraordinary event. In fact, David Bowie, an artist who had blown up norms, who did not accept any artistic or social restrictions, who was irresistibly drawn into the limelight like an incurably ill man to Lourdes or Fatima, died that day. An artist who nourished longings in his texts and fomented them himself, who at times touched on the metaphysical realm and who in his nature, appearance and look always embodied exactly what he was offering in his magical art. An artist, too, on whom it was necessary to work off, since he only rarely fulfilled expectations, only rarely remained on a path taken once, and who never backstabbed the herd, but always hurried ahead of it. The fact that it was him of all people, the complex loner, who was followed by fans in droves, is a phenomenon that is difficult to grasp. This balancing act, which this avant-gardist of the masses performed throughout his life, will be recreated in the following by looking at the albums celebrating their 2017 jubilee.
First there is his debut David Bowie (1967). Please illustrate cover The 20-year-old already showed a deep understanding here that music sells better when you transport an image with it. Three of the fourteen songs on the as yet unkempt record - "Rubber Band", "Little Bombardier", "She's Got Medals" - are Bowie's musical approach to the "brass button militarism of the age of Eduard VII" that was hip in England at the time (Bowie chronicler Kevin Cann). Consequently, the young man presents himself on the cover in a tight-fitting grey felt jacket that resembles an officer's skirt. Good overall impression, as the passionate stylist and quick-change artist can already be seen here. Less clear is the future musical development of Bowie. Apart from the soldierly-edged drumming of the numbers mentioned, typical Britishness dominates here: Music Hall, Easy Listening, as heard on the BBC. A single number, however, "Silly Boy Blue", in its theatrical hymn gesture and with its spiritual, Buddhist-coloured text, already referred to the coming great artist.