Music Industry Reacts to David Bowie's Death: 'I Thought He'd Live Forever'
The shocking news of Davie Bowie’s death, just days after releasing a new album on his 69th birthday, has been met with disbelief from fans, celebrities and members of the music industry. The rock luminary kept his cancer diagnoses a secret from the public, instead opting to give fans the gift of new music without the specter of his mortality hanging over it.
It’s been hard news to digest for many, but the tributes are starting to stream in from those who have worked with Bowie, as well as industry folks who are feeling grateful to have been influenced by him.
This is a developing list, and we will continue to add tributes and remembrances as they come in. For celebrity and artist reactions, and more on Bowie’s legacy, go here.
Doug Morris, chairman and CEO, on behalf of Sony Music: "David Bowie was one of the all-time greats. He was an enormously adventurous and groundbreaking artist who remains as iconic and relevant today as at any time in his legendary career. His transcendent work has influenced countless musicians and captivated generations of fans around the world. Today we mourn the loss of a special member of the Sony Music family and join fans everywhere in remembering him on this sad day for music."
Neil Portnow, president and CEO of The Recording Academy: Bowie was "truly a Renaissance man and visionary artist with extraordinary talent as a singer, songwriter, performer, actor and producer." He said that the singer was a "musical hero to millions." He is remembered for "his audacious approach to pushing creative boundaries and ability to reinvent himself time and time again."
Columbia Records: "We are deeply saddened by the loss of David Bowie. It was an honor and a privilege to release his music to the world."
Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Records: "Very sad to hear that David Bowie, one of the greatest artists and innovators of all time, has died aged 69. When I heard the news it sent a shiver through me. I thought he'd live forever. Still, in some ways he will. I was very fortunate to cross paths with David over the years, and he was one of a kind… We were delighted when David joined Virgin Records and he went on to release a string of superb albums on our label. While not all were commercial successes, they were always incredibly interesting and continued the legacy of progressive, unusual music that started with our very first releases by Mike Oldfield, Gong, Faust and Tangerine Dream."
The SSE Arena, Wembley is paying tribute by posting a digital banner on the building’s front. The pink, red and blue banner (from Bowie’s album Aladdin Sane) is scheduled to remain on the building until Saturday, Jan. 16.
Tony Visconti, producer and Bowie collaborator: "He always did what he wanted to do. And he wanted to do it his way and he wanted to do it the best way. His death was no different from his life - a work of Art. He made Blackstar for us, his parting gift. I knew for a year this was the way it would be. I wasn't, however, prepared for it. He was an extraordinary man, full of love and life. He will always be with us. For now, it is appropriate to cry."
James Donio, president of the Music Business Association (Music Biz): "Music Biz is deeply saddened by the loss of David Bowie, a truly iconic artist, spectacular entertainer, and visionary innovator. From Rock to Folk to Glam to Dance, Bowie’s songs had a profound impact on the musical landscape. He had a dedicated following in popular culture and reinvented and developed striking visual presentation in his work for more than four decades. In fact, nearly every genre of music would not be the same without his contributions. His final album, Blackstar, is a fitting endpoint to his legacy, allowing him to go out on a high note while pushing at the boundaries of what Pop music can be. His legions of fans of all stripes around the world should remember him the way he would have wanted… through the amazing music he continued to create through his entire life."
Willard Ahdritz, founder & CEO, Kobalt: "RIP Bowie. Listening to Blackstar last evening many times, wonderful NYC jazz band, asked myself what does he mean by Blackstar lyrics. Sad."
Michael Rapino, President/CEO, Live Nation Entertainment:
Geoff Taylor, chief Executive BPI & BRIT Awards: "David Bowie is one of our greatest ever songwriters and performers, as well as an acclaimed producer, actor, writer and fashion icon, who shaped our popular culture like no other artist. David was a true visionary and ground-breaking pioneer who consistently pushed back the frontiers of creativity. His iconic body of work inspired generations of musicians and countless legions fans, and its enduring appeal will influence the music that we enjoy for decades to come. David leaves an incomparable legacy of classic songs and hit albums that achieved incredible success worldwide and won huge critical acclaim, including three BRIT Awards and two Grammys. He was a very British hero and, at the same time, a true global icon. His new album ‘Blackstar’ shows that his creativity remained undimmed to the end… The loss of David Bowie will profoundly affect not just by the words of music, film and the wider creative arts, but anyone who has been moved by his other worldly genius and influenced by his understanding of the human condition."
There will never be another David Bowie. R.I.P.— UK Music (@UK_Music) January 11, 2016
Guy Oseary, artist manager: "David Bowie... His music is a big part of my life.. My favorite song of all time is "Under Pressure" Bowie/Queen.. You will be missed.. Thank you for all that you gave us and left behind.. We are grateful for your art.. Rest in Peace."
Steve Cooper, CEO Warner Music Group: “Innovator. Inspiration. Icon. These are words reserved for music’s greatest artists and no one embodies them more than David Bowie. In his music you can hear a dazzling array of ideas, sounds, styles and references, you can pinpoint new genres emerging and you can trace the roots of many celebrated artists who came after him. It is the remarkable legacy of a remarkable man. A true original, a hero to millions, he will be forever imitated, never equaled and very sadly missed. Our deepest condolences to David’s family, friends and everyone who had the privilege of working with him.”
James Donio, president of the Music Business Association: “Music Biz is deeply saddened by the loss of David Bowie, a truly iconic artist, spectacular entertainer, and visionary innovator. From rock to folk to glam to dance, Bowie’s songs had a profound impact on the musical landscape. He had a dedicated following in popular culture and reinvented and developed striking visual presentation in his work for more than four decades. In fact, nearly every genre of music would not be the same without his contributions. His final album, Blackstar, is a fitting endpoint to his legacy, allowing him to go out on a high note while pushing at the boundaries of what Pop music can be. His legions of fans of all stripes around the world should remember him the way he would have wanted… through the amazing music he continued to create through his entire life.”
Jeff Castelaz, former president of Elektra and co-founder of Dangerbird, posted a lengthy tribute on Medium: For years, David Bowie has Looked. Straight. Into. My. Eyes. And, yet, I never even met him.
His songs made me feel that revenge on those who held me and my friends back was right around the corner. His songs made me dream of distant lands I’d never been to. Listening to Bowie, I reached for the dictionary and the encyclopedia more times than any other artist. I needed to know what ‘Rule Brittania’ was; I couldn’t sing along about the ‘Norfolk Broads’ unless I knew what the hell that was. The impossible, aching, driving, seering edge of ‘Changes,’ ‘Queen Bitch,’ ‘Ziggy Stardust,’ ‘Space Oddity’ — and the two songs that have come to mean more to me than all the rest -- ‘Kooks’ and ‘Life On Mars’ are a complete life instruction for me. All the other music I feel so passionately about — including The Smiths — pales next to the body of Bowie’s work.
The Berklee College of Music posted the late legend's commencement speech in full, delivered in 1999. Watch below.