David Bowie is the most influential artist in my life. However when I first heard his music I didn't know that yet. The first incarnation of Bowie I heard was "Let's dance/ China girl modern love" 80s era Bowie. Not very the most inspiring music that he ever did in his life, and he's the first one to admit it too.
The very first cool vision that I witnessed of Bowie I was his portrayal of John Blalock in the Hunger starring Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon. Bowie plays a vampire in the film based on the Whitley Striber novel. In the opening scene, Bowie is effortlessly cool, which always has been one of his greatest traits; whether it be his music, films, art or fashion. Pale skin, jet black hair, and sunglasses while Bauhaus' seminal classic "Bela Lugosi's Dead" roars over the soundtrack. There are flash cuts of Bauhaus actually performing the song in a chic goth club during the beginning sequence. Peter Murphy looks the successor of Bowie's mantle of a vampiric Thin White Duke.
What is so important about the relationship between Bowie and Murphy was that without Bowie's inspiration and influence, there would be no Bauhaus or any gothic styling in music. Without Bowie there is no Siouxsie, the Cure, Joy Division or Sisters of Mercy. Bowie influenced the post punk, new romantic , and industrial sub genres of rock music. His compatriots, Lou Reed and Iggy Pop gave us punk from the incarnations of the Velvet Underground and the Stooges.
The albums that made me a huge fan in 1994 were from his Berlin trilogy, Low and Heroes. I discovered these albums because both of them, especially Low was a huge influence on Nine Inch Nails' Downward Spiral. Trent Reznor even had Adrian Belew. play guitar on a few tracks on the album. There was something very Industrial from the same guy that told us to "put on your red shoes and dance the blues." Bowie was so flattered by the accolades by Reznor given on his most innovative albums that he invited Nine Inch Nails to co-headline a tour in 1995. The highlight of the show was both bands sharing the stage and performing each other's songs including: "Scary Monsters," "Reptile,"and "Hurt." I was more familiar with covers of Bowie's rarer tracks performed by the likes of Rozz Williams of Christian Death. Williams did covers of "Dodo" a b-side from the Diamond Dogs single 1984. The classic "Panic in Detroit" from Aladdin Sane and his other band, Shadow Project did "Holy, Holy" as the final track on their debut album. Chris Connelly covered Station to Station's "Stay" on his third solo record, Shipwreck. The most famous cover was Bauhaus' bombastic version of "Ziggy Stardust," whom Bowie admitted to Murphy backstage that he made a better Ziggy than himself. All these descendants of the legendary performer had latched onto to some facet of Bowie's style and sound. It made me take serious notice and strongly desired to dive into Bowie's impressive backcatalogue. I could hear his mark on all of the bands that I love. The weirdness, the originality, and most importantly the great song craft which is what he shall be most remembered for. Each day I listen to his art, I am in more awe of his genius. I can't believe that he is no longer with us. Hail and farewell to the Thin White Duke.