David Bowie – a retrospective in his words

“I’ve re-invented my image so many times that I’m in denial that I was originally an overweight Korean woman.”

January 31, 2016

January 10, 2016, was the day David Bowie died.

The shocking and sad news had a profound impact on us here at EDGAR HQ. For the previous six weeks we had been looking the Starman in the eyes everyday in the office; Bowie was our cover story for our December/January double issue. 

We ran part of the story shortly before his death, looking at his new album Blackstar and his previous decades of work. 

Here is the remainder of that cover story, featuring timeless images of the iconic artist with some of his most poignant and thought-provoking quotes.

"I'm always amazed that people take what I say seriously. I don't even take what I am seriously." 

“More than anything else, I saw that a lot of my songs were very illustrative and picturesque, and I felt there were other ways of performing them. I was never that confident in my voice, you see, as a singer. So I thought rather than just sing them, which would probably bore the pants off everybody, I’d like to portray the songs.” 

“If I’ve been at all responsible for people finding more characters in themselves than they originally thought they had, then I’m pleased, because that’s something I feel very strongly about – that one isn’t totally what one has been conditioned to think one is, that there are many facets of the personality that a lot of us have trouble finding.” 

“Do you know that feeling you get in the car when somebody is accelerating very, very fast, and you’re not driving? And you get that thing in your chest when you’re being forced backwards, and you think, ‘oh’, and you’re not really sure whether you like it or not. It’s that kind of feeling – that’s what success was like.” 

“I wanted to be a musician because it seemed rebellious, it seemed subversive, it felt like one could affect change to a form. It was very hard to hear music when I was younger. When I was really young you had to tune into AM radio to hear the American records. There was no MTV, it wasn’t wall-to-wall blanket music, so therefore it had a kind of a call to arms kind of feeling to it.

“This is the thing that will change things. This is a dead dodgy occupation to have. It still produced signs of horror from people if you said, ‘I’m in rock ‘n’ roll’. It was, ‘my goodness’. Now it’s a career opportunity.” 

“There was a period when I was performing in front of these huge stadium crowds, and I was thinking, ‘what are these people doing here? Why have they come to see me? They should be seeing Phil Collins’. They were definitely Phil Collins type audiences. And then that came back at me, and I thought, ‘what am I doing here? I should be playing to people who don’t look like they’ve come to see Phil Collins’.” 

“Up until at least the mid-seventies we felt that we were still living in the guise of a single and absolute created society where there were known truths and known lies and there was no kind of duplicity or pluralism about the things that we believed in.

"That started to break down rapidly in the seventies, and the idea of a duality in the way that we live [took hold] – there are always two, three, four, five sides to every question ­– [and] the singularity disappeared, and that I believe has produced such a medium as the internet, which absolutely establishes and shows us that we are living in total fragmentation.” 

“It’s rather disturbing, because when you’re young you think so much is important, including oneself. But as you get older I think you find less and less is important, apart from some very, very fundamental things, one of them being a love for one’s fellow man, and a care for their survival, and a care for one’s immediate family, then friends and then wider, like a circle, like ripples in water.” 

Images: Masayoshi Sukita, Terry O’Neill/Getty, Ian Dickson/Getty.