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David Bowie one of those Heroes whose art will live on forever

By Gail Walker

Published 12/01/2016

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11: Members of the public gather outside the Ritzy Cinema in Brixton to pay tribute to David Bowie on January 11, 2016 in London, England. British music and fashion icon David Bowie died earlier today at the age of 69 after a battle with cancer. (Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11: Members of the public gather outside the Ritzy Cinema in Brixton to pay tribute to David Bowie on January 11, 2016 in London, England. British music and fashion icon David Bowie died earlier today at the age of 69 after a battle with cancer. (Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images)
Flowers and other momentos are left at the Hollywood Star of the late British musician David Bowie in Hollywood, California, on January 11, 2016. Bowie died at the age of 69 after a secret battle with cancer, prompting a cascade of tributes for one of the most influential and innovative artists of his time. A notoriously private person, Bowie's death was a shock with his death coming just two days after he released his 25th studio album "Blackstar", on his 69th birthday on January 8. "David Bowie died peacefully today (Sunday) surrounded by his family after a courageous 18-month battle with cancer," said a statement posted January 11 on his official social media accounts. AFP PHOTO/FREDERIC J. BROWNFREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11: A boy leaves flowers beneath a mural of David Bowie in Brixton on January 11, 2016 in London, England. British music and fashion icon David Bowie died earlier today at the age of 69 after a battle with cancer. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
A written note is seen amid flowers, candles and other mementos placed on the Hollywood Star of the late David Bowie in Hollywood, California, on January 11, 2016. Bowie died at the age of 69 after a secret battle with cancer, prompting a cascade of tributes for one of the most influential and innovative artists of his time. A notoriously private person, Bowie's death was a shock with his death coming just two days after he released his 25th studio album "Blackstar", on his 69th birthday on January 8. "David Bowie died peacefully today (Sunday) surrounded by his family after a courageous 18-month battle with cancer," said a statement posted January 11 on his official social media accounts. AFP PHOTO/FREDERIC J. BROWNFREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images
People pay their respects at the Hollywood Star of the late British musician David Bowie in Hollywood, California, on January 11, 2016. Bowie died at the age of 69 after a secret battle with cancer, prompting a cascade of tributes for one of the most influential and innovative artists of his time. A notoriously private person, Bowie's death was a shock with his death coming just two days after he released his 25th studio album "Blackstar", on his 69th birthday on January 8. "David Bowie died peacefully today (Sunday) surrounded by his family after a courageous 18-month battle with cancer," said a statement posted January 11on his official social media accounts. AFP PHOTO/FREDERIC J. BROWNFREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images
Crowds gather outside the Ritzy cinema in south London to pay homage to British singer David Bowie following the announcement of Bowie's death on January 11, 2016. British music icon David Bowie died of cancer at the age of 69, drawing an outpouring of tributes for the innovative star famed for groundbreaking hits like "Ziggy Stardust" and his theatrical shape-shifting style. AFP PHOTO / CHRIS RATCLIFFECHRIS RATCLIFFE/AFP/Getty Images
Crowds gather outside the Ritzy cinema in south London to pay homage to British singer David Bowie following the announcement of Bowie's death on January 11, 2016. British music icon David Bowie died of cancer at the age of 69, drawing an outpouring of tributes for the innovative star famed for groundbreaking hits like "Ziggy Stardust" and his theatrical shape-shifting style. AFP PHOTO / CHRIS RATCLIFFECHRIS RATCLIFFE/AFP/Getty Images
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11: Members of the public gather outside the Ritzy Cinema in Brixton to pay tribute to David Bowie on January 11, 2016 in London, England. British music and fashion icon David Bowie died earlier today at the age of 69 after a battle with cancer. (Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11: Members of the public gather outside the Ritzy Cinema in Brixton to pay tribute to David Bowie on January 11, 2016 in London, England. British music and fashion icon David Bowie died earlier today at the age of 69 after a battle with cancer. (Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 11: Flowers, candles and pictures sit at a memorial outside of the late musician and performer David Bowie's apartment that he shared with his wife on January 11, 2016 in New York City. A growing memorial sits outside of the residence in lower Manhattan following news that Bowie died over the weekend following 18 month battle with cancer. Bowie was 69 and had just released his 25th studio album, "Blackstar," to strong reviews on January 8. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Crowds gather outside the Ritzy cinema in south London to pay homage to British singer David Bowie following the announcement of Bowie's death on January 11, 2016. British music icon David Bowie died of cancer at the age of 69, drawing an outpouring of tributes for the innovative star famed for groundbreaking hits like "Ziggy Stardust" and his theatrical shape-shifting style. AFP PHOTO / CHRIS RATCLIFFECHRIS RATCLIFFE/AFP/Getty Images
A man lights a candle during a wake outside British music legend David Bowie's former home in Berlin's Hauptstrasse 155 late on January 11, 2016. British music legend David Bowie has died at the age of 69 after a secret battle with cancer, prompting a cascade of tributes for one of the most influential and innovative artists of his time. / AFP / ODD ANDERSENODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty Images
People pay their respects at the Hollywood Star of the late British musician David Bowie in Hollywood, California, on January 11, 2016. Bowie died at the age of 69 after a secret battle with cancer, prompting a cascade of tributes for one of the most influential and innovative artists of his time. A notoriously private person, Bowie's death was a shock with his death coming just two days after he released his 25th studio album "Blackstar", on his 69th birthday on January 8. "David Bowie died peacefully today (Sunday) surrounded by his family after a courageous 18-month battle with cancer," said a statement posted January 11on his official social media accounts. AFP PHOTO/FREDERIC J. BROWNFREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images
Crowds gather outside the Ritzy cinema in south London to pay homage to British singer David Bowie following the announcement of Bowie's death on January 11, 2016. British music icon David Bowie died of cancer at the age of 69, drawing an outpouring of tributes for the innovative star famed for groundbreaking hits like "Ziggy Stardust" and his theatrical shape-shifting style. AFP PHOTO / CHRIS RATCLIFFECHRIS RATCLIFFE/AFP/Getty Images
A woman pays her respects at the Hollywood Star of the late British musician David Bowie in Hollywood, California, on January 11, 2016. Bowie died at the age of 69 after a secret battle with cancer, prompting a cascade of tributes for one of the most influential and innovative artists of his time. A notoriously private person, Bowie's death was a shock with his death coming just two days after he released his 25th studio album "Blackstar", on his 69th birthday on January 8. "David Bowie died peacefully today (Sunday) surrounded by his family after a courageous 18-month battle with cancer," said a statement posted January 11on his official social media accounts. AFP PHOTO/FREDERIC J. BROWNFREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images
A woman grieves beside a wreath donated from the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce which was delivered to the Hollywood Star of the late British musician David Bowie in Hollywood, California, on January 11, 2016. Bowie died at the age of 69 after a secret battle with cancer, prompting a cascade of tributes for one of the most influential and innovative artists of his time. A notoriously private person, Bowie's death was a shock with his death coming just two days after he released his 25th studio album "Blackstar", on his 69th birthday on January 8. "David Bowie died peacefully today (Sunday) surrounded by his family after a courageous 18-month battle with cancer," said a statement posted January 11on his official social media accounts. AFP PHOTO/FREDERIC J. BROWNFREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images
Candles, flowers and other momentos are placed on the Hollywood Star of the late British musician David Bowie in Hollywood, California, on January 11, 2016. Bowie died at the age of 69 after a secret battle with cancer, prompting a cascade of tributes for one of the most influential and innovative artists of his time. A notoriously private person, Bowie's death was a shock with his death coming just two days after he released his 25th studio album "Blackstar", on his 69th birthday on January 8. "David Bowie died peacefully today (Sunday) surrounded by his family after a courageous 18-month battle with cancer," said a statement posted January 11on his official social media accounts. AFP PHOTO/FREDERIC J. BROWNFREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images
A woman grieves beside a wreath donated from the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce which was delivered to the Hollywood Star of the late British musician David Bowie in Hollywood, California, on January 11, 2016. Bowie died at the age of 69 after a secret battle with cancer, prompting a cascade of tributes for one of the most influential and innovative artists of his time. A notoriously private person, Bowie's death was a shock with his death coming just two days after he released his 25th studio album "Blackstar", on his 69th birthday on January 8. "David Bowie died peacefully today (Sunday) surrounded by his family after a courageous 18-month battle with cancer," said a statement posted January 11on his official social media accounts. AFP PHOTO/FREDERIC J. BROWNFREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images
A fan puts flowers at a memorial outside of the residence of British music legend David Bowie in New York on January 11, 2016. Bowie has died at the age of 69 after a secret battle with cancer, unleashing a cascade of tributes for one of the most influential and innovative artists of his time. A notoriously private person, Bowie's death in New York was a shock to the world with the announcement coming just three days after he released his 25th studio album "Blackstar", on his 69th birthday on January 8. "David Bowie died peacefully today (Sunday) surrounded by his family after a courageous 18-month battle with cancer," said a statement posted January 11 on his official social media accounts. AFP PHOTO/KENA BETANCURKENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images
A poster with David Bowie's face is seen at a memorial outside of the apartment building where he had a home in New York on January 11, 2016. Bowie has died at the age of 69 after a secret battle with cancer, unleashing a cascade of tributes for one of the most influential and innovative artists of his time. A notoriously private person, Bowie's death in New York was a shock to the world with the announcement coming just three days after he released his 25th studio album "Blackstar", on his 69th birthday on January 8. "David Bowie died peacefully today (Sunday) surrounded by his family after a courageous 18-month battle with cancer," said a statement posted January 11 on his official social media accounts. AFP PHOTO/KENA BETANCURKENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images
A fan reacts at a memorial outside of the residence of British music legend David Bowie in New York on January 11, 2016. Bowie has died at the age of 69 after a secret battle with cancer, unleashing a cascade of tributes for one of the most influential and innovative artists of his time. A notoriously private person, Bowie's death in New York was a shock to the world with the announcement coming just three days after he released his 25th studio album "Blackstar", on his 69th birthday on January 8. "David Bowie died peacefully today (Sunday) surrounded by his family after a courageous 18-month battle with cancer," said a statement posted January 11 on his official social media accounts. AFP PHOTO/KENA BETANCURKENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images
A fan reacts at a memorial outside of the residence of British music legend David Bowie in New York on January 11, 2016. Bowie has died at the age of 69 after a secret battle with cancer, unleashing a cascade of tributes for one of the most influential and innovative artists of his time. A notoriously private person, Bowie's death in New York was a shock to the world with the announcement coming just three days after he released his 25th studio album "Blackstar", on his 69th birthday on January 8. "David Bowie died peacefully today (Sunday) surrounded by his family after a courageous 18-month battle with cancer," said a statement posted January 11 on his official social media accounts. AFP PHOTO/KENA BETANCURKENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images
A fan reacts at a memorial outside of the residence of British music legend David Bowie in New York on January 11, 2016. Bowie has died at the age of 69 after a secret battle with cancer, unleashing a cascade of tributes for one of the most influential and innovative artists of his time. A notoriously private person, Bowie's death in New York was a shock to the world with the announcement coming just three days after he released his 25th studio album "Blackstar", on his 69th birthday on January 8. "David Bowie died peacefully today (Sunday) surrounded by his family after a courageous 18-month battle with cancer," said a statement posted January 11 on his official social media accounts. AFP PHOTO/KENA BETANCURKENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images
A poster is seen of British music legend David Bowie at a memorial outside of the residence in New York on January 11, 2016. Bowie has died at the age of 69 after a secret battle with cancer, unleashing a cascade of tributes for one of the most influential and innovative artists of his time. A notoriously private person, Bowie's death in New York was a shock to the world with the announcement coming just three days after he released his 25th studio album "Blackstar", on his 69th birthday on January 8. "David Bowie died peacefully today (Sunday) surrounded by his family after a courageous 18-month battle with cancer," said a statement posted January 11 on his official social media accounts. AFP PHOTO/KENA BETANCURKENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images
A candle with David Bowie's face on it is seen at a memorial outside of the apartment building where he had a home in New York on January 11, 2016. Bowie has died at the age of 69 after a secret battle with cancer, unleashing a cascade of tributes for one of the most influential and innovative artists of his time. A notoriously private person, Bowie's death in New York was a shock to the world with the announcement coming just three days after he released his 25th studio album "Blackstar", on his 69th birthday on January 8. "David Bowie died peacefully today (Sunday) surrounded by his family after a courageous 18-month battle with cancer," said a statement posted January 11 on his official social media accounts. AFP PHOTO/KENA BETANCURKENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images
Memorabilia and bouquets of flowers are left in honor of David Bowie outside his New York apartment, Monday, Jan. 11, 2016. Bowie, the other-worldly musician who broke pop and rock boundaries with his creative musicianship, nonconformity, striking visuals and a genre-spanning persona he christened Ziggy Stardust, died of cancer Sunday. He was 69. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Memorabilia and bouquets of flowers are left in honor of David Bowie outside his New York apartment, Monday, Jan. 11, 2016. Bowie, the other-worldly musician who broke pop and rock boundaries with his creative musicianship, nonconformity, striking visuals and a genre-spanning persona he christened Ziggy Stardust, died of cancer Sunday. He was 69. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Crowds gather outside the Ritzy cinema in south London to pay homage to British singer David Bowie following the announcement of Bowie's death on January 11, 2016. British music icon David Bowie died of cancer at the age of 69, drawing an outpouring of tributes for the innovative star famed for groundbreaking hits like "Ziggy Stardust" and his theatrical shape-shifting style. AFP PHOTO / CHRIS RATCLIFFECHRIS RATCLIFFE/AFP/Getty Images
Crowds gather outside the Ritzy cinema in south London to pay homage to British singer David Bowie following the announcement of Bowie's death on January 11, 2016. British music icon David Bowie died of cancer at the age of 69, drawing an outpouring of tributes for the innovative star famed for groundbreaking hits like "Ziggy Stardust" and his theatrical shape-shifting style. AFP PHOTO / CHRIS RATCLIFFECHRIS RATCLIFFE/AFP/Getty Images
Crowds gather outside the Ritzy cinema in south London to pay homage to British singer David Bowie following the announcement of Bowie's death on January 11, 2016. British music icon David Bowie died of cancer at the age of 69, drawing an outpouring of tributes for the innovative star famed for groundbreaking hits like "Ziggy Stardust" and his theatrical shape-shifting style. AFP PHOTO / CHRIS RATCLIFFECHRIS RATCLIFFE/AFP/Getty Images
Crowds gather outside the Ritzy cinema in south London to sing and pay homage to British singer David Bowie following the announcement of Bowie's death on January 11, 2016. British music icon David Bowie died of cancer at the age of 69, drawing an outpouring of tributes for the innovative star famed for groundbreaking hits like "Ziggy Stardust" and his theatrical shape-shifting style. AFP PHOTO / NIKLAS HALLE'NNIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images
Crowds gather outside the Ritzy cinema in south London to sing and pay homage to British singer David Bowie following the announcement of Bowie's death on January 11, 2016. British music icon David Bowie died of cancer at the age of 69, drawing an outpouring of tributes for the innovative star famed for groundbreaking hits like "Ziggy Stardust" and his theatrical shape-shifting style. AFP PHOTO / NIKLAS HALLE'NNIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images
Crowds gather outside the Ritzy cinema in south London to sing and pay homage to British singer David Bowie following the announcement of Bowie's death on January 11, 2016. British music icon David Bowie died of cancer at the age of 69, drawing an outpouring of tributes for the innovative star famed for groundbreaking hits like "Ziggy Stardust" and his theatrical shape-shifting style. AFP PHOTO / NIKLAS HALLE'NNIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images
Crowds gather outside the Ritzy cinema in south London to sing and pay homage to British singer David Bowie following the announcement of Bowie's death on January 11, 2016. British music icon David Bowie died of cancer at the age of 69, drawing an outpouring of tributes for the innovative star famed for groundbreaking hits like "Ziggy Stardust" and his theatrical shape-shifting style. AFP PHOTO / NIKLAS HALLE'NNIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11: People gather to listen to David Bowie songs as they celebrate his life in Brixton on January 11, 2016 in London, England. British music and fashion icon David Bowie died earlier today at the age of 69 after a battle with cancer. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
Crowds gather outside the Ritzy cinema in south London to sing and pay homage to British singer David Bowie following the announcement of Bowie's death on January 11, 2016. British music icon David Bowie died of cancer at the age of 69, drawing an outpouring of tributes for the innovative star famed for groundbreaking hits like "Ziggy Stardust" and his theatrical shape-shifting style. AFP PHOTO / NIKLAS HALLE'NNIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images
Crowds gather outside the Ritzy cinema in south London to sing and pay homage to British singer David Bowie following the announcement of Bowie's death on January 11, 2016. British music icon David Bowie died of cancer at the age of 69, drawing an outpouring of tributes for the innovative star famed for groundbreaking hits like "Ziggy Stardust" and his theatrical shape-shifting style. AFP PHOTO / NIKLAS HALLE'NNIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images
Crowds gather outside the Ritzy cinema in south London to sing and pay homage to British singer David Bowie following the announcement of Bowie's death on January 11, 2016. British music icon David Bowie died of cancer at the age of 69, drawing an outpouring of tributes for the innovative star famed for groundbreaking hits like "Ziggy Stardust" and his theatrical shape-shifting style. AFP PHOTO / NIKLAS HALLE'NNIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images
Crowds gather outside the Ritzy cinema in south London to pay homage to British singer David Bowie following the announcement of Bowie's death on January 11, 2016. British music icon David Bowie died of cancer at the age of 69, drawing an outpouring of tributes for the innovative star famed for groundbreaking hits like "Ziggy Stardust" and his theatrical shape-shifting style. AFP PHOTO / CHRIS RATCLIFFECHRIS RATCLIFFE/AFP/Getty Images
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11: People perform David Bowie songs as they celebrate his life at a gathering in Brixton on January 11, 2016 in London, England. British music and fashion icon David Bowie died earlier today at the age of 69 after a battle with cancer. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11: Members of public gather and lay flowers by a mural of David Bowie in Brixton on January 11, 2016 in London, England. British music and fashion icon David Bowie died earlier today at the age of 69 after a battle with cancer. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11: A man looks on as he pauses next to flowers laid by a mural of David Bowie in Brixton on January 11, 2016 in London, England. British music and fashion icon David Bowie died earlier today at the age of 69 after a battle with cancer. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11: Members of public gather and lay flowers by a mural of David Bowie in Brixton on January 11, 2016 in London, England. British music and fashion icon David Bowie died earlier today at the age of 69 after a battle with cancer. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11: A woman leaves flowers beneath a mural of David Bowie in Brixton on January 11, 2016 in London, England. British music and fashion icon David Bowie died earlier today at the age of 69 after a battle with cancer. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11: A boy looks up as members of the public gather and lay flowers by a mural of David Bowie in Brixton on January 11, 2016 in London, England. British music and fashion icon David Bowie died earlier today at the age of 69 after a battle with cancer. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11: A child lays a candle next to a mural of David Bowie in Brixton on January 11, 2016 in London, England. British music and fashion icon David Bowie died earlier today at the age of 69 after a battle with cancer. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11: A woman looks on as she sits next to flowers laid by a mural of David Bowie in Brixton on January 11, 2016 in London, England. British music and fashion icon David Bowie died earlier today at the age of 69 after a battle with cancer. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11: People perform David Bowie songs as they celebrate his life at a gathering in Brixton on January 11, 2016 in London, England. British music and fashion icon David Bowie died earlier today at the age of 69 after a battle with cancer. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11: Flowers are laid beneath a mural of David Bowie in Brixton on January 11, 2016 in London, England. British music and fashion icon David Bowie died earlier today at the age of 69 after a battle with cancer. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11: A man performs a David Bowie song on the mouth organ as people gather to celebrate his life at a gathering in Brixton on January 11, 2016 in London, England. British music and fashion icon David Bowie died earlier today at the age of 69 after a battle with cancer. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11: People perform David Bowie songs as they celebrate his life at a gathering in Brixton on January 11, 2016 in London, England. British music and fashion icon David Bowie died earlier today at the age of 69 after a battle with cancer. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11: A woman leaves flowers beneath a mural of David Bowie in Brixton on January 11, 2016 in London, England. British music and fashion icon David Bowie died earlier today at the age of 69 after a battle with cancer. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11: People perform David Bowie songs as they celebrate his life at a gathering in Brixton on January 11, 2016 in London, England. British music and fashion icon David Bowie died earlier today at the age of 69 after a battle with cancer. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11: A man leaves flowers beneath a mural of David Bowie in Brixton on January 11, 2016 in London, England. British music and fashion icon David Bowie died earlier today at the age of 69 after a battle with cancer. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11: People perform David Bowie songs as they celebrate his life at a gathering in Brixton on January 11, 2016 in London, England. British music and fashion icon David Bowie died earlier today at the age of 69 after a battle with cancer. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11: People perform David Bowie songs as they celebrate his life at a gathering in Brixton on January 11, 2016 in London, England. British music and fashion icon David Bowie died earlier today at the age of 69 after a battle with cancer. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11: People gather to listen to David Bowie songs as they celebrate his life in Brixton on January 11, 2016 in London, England. British music and fashion icon David Bowie died earlier today at the age of 69 after a battle with cancer. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11: People perform David Bowie songs as they celebrate his life at a gathering in Brixton on January 11, 2016 in London, England. British music and fashion icon David Bowie died earlier today at the age of 69 after a battle with cancer. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11: Members of the media and public gather by a mural of David Bowie in Brixton on January 11, 2016 in London, England. British music and fashion icon David Bowie died earlier today at the age of 69 after a battle with cancer. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11: People gather to listen to David Bowie songs as they celebrate his life in Brixton on January 11, 2016 in London, England. British music and fashion icon David Bowie died earlier today at the age of 69 after a battle with cancer. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11: A woman dances to a David Bowie song as people celebrate his life at a gathering in Brixton on January 11, 2016 in London, England. British music and fashion icon David Bowie died earlier today at the age of 69 after a battle with cancer. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 11: People pay tribute to the late musician and performer David Bowie at a memorial outside of the apartment he shared with his wife on January 11, 2016 in New York City. A growing memorial sits outside of the residence in lower Manhattan following news that Bowie died over the weekend following a year long battle with cancer. Bowie was 69 and had just released his 25th studio album, "Blackstar," to strong reviews on Friday. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) *** BESTPIX ***

Fair enough, the course of our lives may not, as the ancients thought, be ruled by celestial stars. But it is true to say they are milestoned by our all too earthly and mortal ones.

The function of great cultural or historical figures in the everyday lives of the rest of us - the roles they play, what they represent, how they initiate, shape or change opinion - is a genuine social phenomenon. We may get sniffy at that, wish they didn't wear tattoos or advocate violence or promote anaemic, tepid philosophies of vague goodwill; but their influence, be they movie stars, sports players, pop stars, glamour pusses or grotesques, occurs in spite of the opprobrium of the elders among us.

Such figures exist in a way that is different from how friends, family and romantic partners do. Those people think they know us, yet they can not look into our very being - the people we dream of being, the shiny people we really are. But certain figures understand, and one of those was David Bowie, in a thousand different ways. Some trivial because he was the gawky boy made good. Some because they wanted to be a proper artist like him. And some because they too wanted to muck around with make-up, smashing taboos and outraging our elders and so-called betters.

Let's Dance. What an album to cascade into your life on the cusp of your teenage years in a small Northern Ireland town! But there are many Bowies. Or there were many Bowies. Mine, primarily, was the Comeback Bowie, the Business Suit Bowie, the Dancefloor Bowie - that bassline, that song... the man video was invented for. Let's Dance indeed. As he said in Modern Love: "I know when to go out/And when to stay in/Get things done)". And indeed he did.

All stars face one dreadful question: how do you want to be remembered? And apart from one or two drug-addled blips, Bowie always seemed to know the answer. A man of substance, style and dignity, his life and work always bore testimony to this. And now his death does too - private, reserved, dignified. If it is hard to live in the public eye, it is harder still to die in it. Perhaps that is why Bowie choreographed such an elegant and graceful exit. Not for him the hours of confessional interviews, that one last hurrah of publicity. No, he probably knew that there was only really one way to go out - in character with his life. The Thin White Duke - the emphasis was always on the duke.

These desperately sad losses are like a kind of cultural erosion on the soul - chunks of your youth just collapsing into the sea. Even as I write, the memories are playing strange tricks. Bowie in Ashes To Ashes, dressed up like a clown, a bulldozer, that weird sea and that weird beach.

David on all fours on - I can't quite remember - Blue Jean, was it? The images were as powerful as the music. And then, for me, what you might call retrieved memories: as an intrigued teenager ransacking his back catalogue, glued to old archive footage of Ziggy and his Spiders From Mars - hotpants and mascara, platforms and shockingly dyed hair. If this was the revolution, it looked like fun. What was there for any teen not to like, let alone one in rural Ulster in the Eighties, more often than not confined to living in a few streets due to the disintegration of society all around?

Now, replicate that across the globe and down the decades. Bowie joins that very select band of artists whose impact will only broaden and deepen as his influence on fashion, sexuality, lifestyles, image-making and creativity, let alone music, is more understood.

As the years slip by, the sounds of our youth can become not less important but more. More vital because Bowie never became nostalgia. And because he was always reinventing himself we thought the process would go on forever. That he was quaffing from the fountain of youth. And we thought that even when his lyrics had become infused with shades of melancholia and darkness. I suppose you could say we were so caught up in the excitement of his latest album we didn't pause to notice that sometimes the flame burns brightest before it flutters out. But that is to confuse the artist with the art. The songs will go on. And more importantly our relationship with 'David Bowie' will go on. We have the memories and those memories will come back, obviously at this time of sadness, but in the years to come as well.

More strangely, though - for all his extravagant myth-making, his many exuberant selves, his outrageous takes on being a human in space - Bowie was also oddly traditional. A very British eccentric in the best sense, one of the odd gifts the wayward English psyche presents to the world, insisting somehow that even impossible odds can be overcome...

I can remember

Standing by the wall

And the guns shot above our heads

And we kissed,

As though nothing could fall

And the shame was on the other side.

Oh we can beat them, for ever and ever.

Then we could be heroes,

Just for one day.

Belfast Telegraph

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