Turn And Face The Strange: Demo Remembers David Bowie

On January 10, David Bowie passed away from cancer at 69, two days after he celebrated his birthday and released his 25th album Blackstar. It’s hard to understate the impact that Bowie’s life and music left on the world, but Demo’s contributors share what he meant to them.

Dora Boras


Burberry pays tribute to David Bowie

A Burberry model is walking down the runway. She begins to slowly overturn her hands, exposing her palms to the light. “Bo” and “Wie” are written on each hand, appearing like stigmata. David Bowie has just died, only hours before Burberry’s London Collections: Men showcase.

It was 2:25 in Toronto, and I was staying up past my bedtime, scrolling on infinite feeds, soaking information I’ll never think of twice, when the words leaped off the screen and down my throat.

First denial, then panic. Instantly on Google, credible news sites appeared, lamenting, that yes, David Bowie, celestrial patriarch, glitter dad, was dead.

I felt my heart sink into my stomach, and I felt sorry for all those who were about to wake up and check their Twitter feeds as they turned off alarms, only to learn that David Bowie’s final era has ended. As the night turned to day, millions of people felt the same wave of denial, nausea and grief I had just swallowed.

Even now, after the grief has settled in, I still find it hard to truly discuss, or even fathom David Bowie’s influence on the entire turning world. Bowie was for so many a first exposure to many different things otherwise unseen in the public eye – an idol of counter-culture, androgyny, and proof of life on another planet.

My heart has sunk in my chest, but there is solace in knowing that so many adored and worshipped Bowie just like I had. Bowie’s legacy will be carried on, and his influence forever wired into our minds. Thank you, to the visionary that did and meant everything. You’ll be forever in our hearts and ears.

PS: Wouldn’t it be kinda cool to be haunted by Bowie though?

Ayla Shiblaq

The first time I listened to David Bowie, it was playing in the background of a Lizzie McGuire episode. Embarrassingly enough, Disney would sponsor the beginnings of my musical exploration, but more importantly, would lead me to Bowie. Beginning as the glue that bounded one of my closest friendships, to the personal reassurance that being weird was the only thing I understood to be, Bowie was pivotal in my musical and personal exploration. I can’t imagine what my world would be like without him.

Thank you Ziggy, and may your star always shine bright.

Samantha Capaldi

I have always felt a sort of a connection with David Bowie ever since I discovered that we shared the same birthday. It is such a strange feeling that he is gone. Even now that it has been a few days, I still do not know entirely what to say. The world has lost an icon that transcended time; hell, he even transcended space.

David Bowie was a lot of different things for all different kinds of people. For my parents, “Modern Love” became a kind of theme song for their wedding celebrations in 1986. For musicians, he has been listed as the ultimate influence in their music time and time again. For me, he just happened to celebrate his birthday alongside with me, which as a child, made him the coolest in my book. As I got older and actually listened to his music, my love for Bowie grew even more (and became more legitimized if we are being honest).

“Queen Bitch” is easily my favourite song of his although it has tended to change from time to time. Mostly, it has to do with Wes Anderson’s ultimate David Bowie tribute in one of my favourite films, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, in which Seu Jorge covers many of Bowie’s tracks mostly from Hunky Dory. As an album in itself it is easily my favourite, although that is difficult to say with such a vast body of work that Bowie has left behind.

David Bowie is just one of those people so integrated into all realms of culture that I think we all thought that he would live forever. Sadly, we were brought back down to earth in the truth of the matter, just as David Bowie transcended back to space.

Emily Powers

Painting by Emily Powers


Bowie always has been and always will be my favourite artist. He was a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Considerably my favourite memory of him occurred in Grade 10 when I convinced my teacher to let me do my historical figure presentation on David Bowie and then proceeded to go to school in full Aladdin Zane drag.

When my father was filming The Perks of Being a Wallflower, the big question on set was what song would embody Stephen Chbosky’s tunnel song. They had to find a song that was both universal and timeless. A song that was generationless – a song to scream to and a song to cry to. The song that could make every teenager feel infinite. I wasn’t surprised when they chose “Heroes” because Bowie’s music is all of those things and more.

As heartbroken as I am, I know this isn’t the end. Bowie isn’t someone who will just go away, he will live on through all of us. I swear if I look hard enough, I can see him out there, dancing in the streets.

James Li

Bowie’s death was unimaginable to me because he’s already lived so many lives. He’s been Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, and the Thin White Duke. He’s was a singer, songwriter, actor, producer, style icon, LGBT icon, and so much more. Somewhere in the mix, I forgot that he was also a human being, or in his own words, a “mortal with the potential of a superman”.

Not that Bowie would let something like mortality get in the way  – if he had to die, he was going to do it on his own terms. I’m more grateful than I am sad, because Bowie spent his last months making Blackstar, a haunting farewell gift to his fans. It’s a brilliant and uncompromising album – even in his old age, he wasn’t afraid of change. After all, Bowie spent his entire career transforming, and what’s death but another transformation?

Stuart Oakes

It is a Wednesday evening. You are with some old friends from out of town, the sort of friends that you really genuinely like and get along with. People are trying to make plans. Someone proposes maybe going to the David Bowie exhibit at a nearby gallery; it’s been up for a couple months and is ending soon, and afterwards you could just wander around the gallery. Everyone agrees that it’s a pretty good idea, so you get your jackets on and head out the door.

It is raining, but only slightly and it feels warm. It’s that type of night where all the colours are really saturated and everything smells fresh and earthy. It is very easy to believe that it is spring. People are laughing and pointing out different buildings. One person is smoking and everyone is making fun of them.

You get to the gallery and head inside, only to be told that the exhibition is sold out for the evening. Everyone mills around for a couple moment, deciding what to do, and then you go and explore the gift store. On the way home, people discuss what it would be like to be so famous that galleries could put on shows consisting entirely of portraits of you and sell out for months straight. The rain has stopped almost completely. Someone wonders what it would be like to live with yourself in that sort of situation; how could you possibly stay grounded?

At home, people are baking a pizza and watching TV. Someone is reading a history book for a course they are taking. You pin the Archer-Bowie postcard you bought at the gallery to the wall in your room and then return to the living room. The next morning everyone leaves to go home. It will be a very long time until you see them again, and by then things have changed. Not worse, just different.


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