I hate that Bowie has been gone for 7 years, but I love being reminded of this incredible weekend in 1997 when I became a Bowie fan. I wrote this when I first heard of his passing:
In 1997, at the tender age of 17, I had the opportunity to attend this festival in the Belgian countryside just one month before I moved back to the U.S. At the time Radiohead (who had released OK Computer one month earlier) and the Smashing Pumpkins, still touring Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (which along with Gish & Siamese Dream before had etched it’s angst all over my teenage soul), were the big draw. To be honest, at the time I purchased tickets then begged my parents to let me go (in that order, if memory serves), David Bowie’s inclusion on the bill didn’t mean much to me at all. Like many 80’s kids, he was primarily “that dude from Labyrinth” for me at that stage.
Then he played.
Now, if you scan this poster, I’m sure you can imagine that this was a weekend that included some of the live music highlights of my life. But I remember vividly watching Bowie that first night and being blown away, realizing that his influence touched nearly every single act on that bill. From the dangerous cool of Suede and Placebo, to the theatricality of the Smashing Pumpkins; the glam-era brit-psych-rock leanings of Supergrass, to the “view of the world from outer-space” that permeated OK Computer; from the masks and the elaborate stage setup that Daft Punk played behind to white-boy soul and funk of Beck and Jamiroquai. Bowie touched it all and pulled it all together. I took notice, and have been a fan since that day in July of 1997. As I’ve come to know his catalogue well, the sense of the enormity of his influence has only grown. It is not an exaggeration to say that many, many of the most important records in my life would not exist if it were not for David Bowie (Achtung Baby, anyone…). And he remained artistically vital to the end. What a loss.
Thanks, David. My life and many, many others were incalculably enriched by yours. As many have already said, “Check ignition and may God’s love be with you.”