When I went to see the David Bowie retrospective traveling the globe, which was then in Chicago, I discovered that he wanted to be a writer when he was a young, with no desire to be a performer. It made sense to me that he would approach performing and his persona from a conceptual practice, understanding the idea of projection, the back ’n’ forth unspoken dialogue between performer and audience. There is no one who did it better than Bowie, breaking thru the glass ceiling of gender roles and expectations for what is sexy and charismatic as a rock ’n’ roll icon, post John Wayne, bringing the idea of the “dandy” of eighteenth century France into contemporary life, bringing a focus on this new male identity set adrift with no apparent purpose since the demise of the silent cowboy type (who’s going to protect and take care of us womenfolk?), except free to be whatever he could imagine he could be, and taking us, his audience, along with him. The world has lost its most glittery son but the music and the imprint of Bowie on the world is forever.
— Kim Gordon (Sonic Youth, Body/Head), Los Angeles
In 1997, we in Sonic Youth were amazed when we got word from David Bowie, inviting us to perform with him onstage at Madison Square Garden in celebration of his 50th birthday. That he even knew who we were was amazing to us! We had been so inspired and influenced by his music for so long, and it was a huge thrill to join him in performance. Hanging out with him leading up to the concert, it was clear that he was still fully engaged and informed about all kinds of music and art going on around him, curious and open to new influences. Not many of his generation were tuned in to the kind of thing that we were doing, but he certainly was.
A few days before the show, we all trooped up to Connecticut for rehearsal. David had rented the Hartford Civic Center arena for the day so we could rehearse and get comfortable in a venue with a stage the same size as Madison Square Garden! He had asked our friend Tony Oursler to do some of his video projections as the stage set for the concert. Tony was a fellow artist-traveller who had directed our “Tunic” video a few years prior. David impressed us with his focus and his friendly and positive demeanor throughout a long day. He was excited, and certainly we were! We were only halfway thru our thirty-year career as a band at that time, while he was already past that mark, and obviously still going strong. A Radical Adult.
This morning, for some reason I woke unexpectedly at 6:00 AM and couldn’t sleep. I reached for my phone to check the New York Times, and was completely shocked — devastated! — to read the news. A new album, new theatre production, new musical directions — he was so active this last year. To realize that he was accomplishing all this while knowing his fate makes his recent accomplishments all the more inspiring.
— Lee Ranaldo (Sonic Youth), New York, January 11, 2016