David Bowie, arguably the greatest artist who ever lived, has died at the age of 69. It’s impossible to understate his impact on popular cultural, so we rounded up the musicians who almost definitely wouldn’t be here if he hadn’t gifted us with his genius.
In 2014 Lorde told Rookie that she’d met Bowie, who’d complimented her work: "To have someone like that tell you that listening to you felt like listening to tomorrow. I could creatively die and just be happy forever… It was super cute... For some reason we were holding hands and just staring into each other’s eyes and talking... It was insane. A beautiful moment."
Talking to NME about the Arctic Monkeys album ‘Suck It And See’, Alex Turner said in 2011: "I wanted a good song foundation on this one, so that meant listening to Nick Cave, John Cale, Lou Reed, [David] Bowie, Leonard Cohen. And then as it went in and we put it through the mill of the band, other influences came into it, but I started with that to try and craft songs better."
After hearing the news, Florence Welch tweeted: “David Bowie was a huge influence on me throughout my life. The original star-man returned to the stars...”
Have you heard the LCD Soundsystem song ‘All I Want’, taken from the James Murphy’s third album ‘This Is Happening?’ It’s a loving pastiche of ‘Heroes’, threaded through with a similarly haunting riff, and a testament to Bowie’s enduring influence.
Have you heard the LCD Soundsystem song ‘All I Want’, taken from the James Murphy’s third album ‘This Is Happening?’ It’s a fond pastiche of ‘Heroes’, threaded through with a similarly haunting riff, and a testament to Bowie’s enduring influence.
Californian art rocker Beck paid tribute to Bowie in 2013 with a cover of the classic ‘Sound and Vision’, taken from the 1977 Berlin-era album ‘Low’.
Bowie famously made a cameo on Montreal stadium rockers Arcade Fire’s song ‘Reflektor’ and the great man’s influence is all over the eponymously titled album from which it was taken: glam, art-rock, dance music, all underpinned by an epic pop sensibility.
Experimental pop music that pushes artistic boundaries while remaining accessibly catchy? There’s a through-line from Bowie to Australian psych-rockers Tame Impala, that’s for sure.
Posh rockers Mumford & Sons are another group who, like Hurts, have been keen to follow Bowie’s lead as artists who can pack out stadiums and remain credible musicians, as opposed to plastic pop stars.
Bowie feuded with Morrissey over the years but in 2014 Mozza broke the habit of a lifetime and – sort of – apologised: "I know I've criticised David in the past, but it's all been snotnosed junior high ribbing on my part. I think he knows that." Also, wonder where young Moz got the idea of being an androgynous pop star?
Grimes, aka pop polymath Claire Boucher, told NME in 2013: “I really like him for his appearance; I love androgyny in any capacity – it’s magnetic. It confuses people but it’s ultimately a very attractive thing. He’s basically the male Madonna, he reinvented himself a lot and that’ way cool… The albums are really different – the way he presents himself with every album is totally different.”
Bowie once attended a Franz Ferdinand gig, of which frontman Alex Kapranos later said: “Bowie came along. Bloody David Bowie! I remember sitting with the sleeves of ‘The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars’, ‘Heroes’ and ‘Low’, staring as I sucked in the music... If that’s going to be topped someone’s going to have to have exhumed Freddie Mercury or John Lennon."
Ziggy Stardust was arguably the most influential of Bowie’s alter-egos. The idea of androgynous, drug-addled star at odds with his urban environment has spawned the acts such as The Cure.
With his air of having just returned from the planet of glitter and LSD with an acoustic guitar and Led Zep LP, ‘Space Oddity’-era Bowie was the outsider blueprint for the likes of Sufjan Stevens.
Carlos Dengler, former bassist of Interpol, was widely regarded as the band’s most charismatic member. When he left, drummer Sam Fogarino jokingly told Gigwise: "He wanted to do that Bowie-esque ever-changing persona thing. That's fine, but you're not David Bowie – you have to be brilliant like him to pull it off.”
As his Aladdin Sane persona, Bowie dived headfirst into contemporary black culture in the mid-’70s, switching from electrifying glam rock to cocaine-smooth plastic soul and stadium funk. The apex of this era is the vastly underrated ‘Young Americans’ album that set the blueprint for white art school boys everywhere – such as Everything Everything – to get funky while still being freaky.
Atlanta R&B singer Janelle Monae covered the classic Bowie track ‘Heroes’ on the ‘Late Show With David Letterman’ in June 2014. In 2013 she told us that she "instantly connected” upon first hearing Bowie's music.