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The Music World Sings David Bowie’s Praises

Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer / Getty Images

From Mick Jagger and Kanye West to Madonna and Lorde, celebrities sound off on David Bowie’s death.

David Bowie was an artist whose work and influence spanned genres, and in the short time since his death, there’s been an outpouring of grief from musicians across the spectrum. Some paid homage to the songs and albums that inspired them, while others described personal encounters that revealed how helpful Bowie could be to musicians on their way up. 

Read what artists are saying about David Bowie’s life and work, from close Bowie associates like Iggy Pop and Brian Eno to current stars like Lorde and Kendrick Lamar.

Yoko Ono

“John and David respected each other. They were well matched in intellect and talent. As John and I had very few friends we felt David was as close as family.

After John died, David was always there for Sean and me. When Sean was at boarding school in Switzerland, David would pick him up and take him on trips to museums and let Sean hang out at his recording studio in Geneva.

For Sean this is losing another father figure. It will be hard for him, I know. But we have some sweet memories which will stay with us forever.”

Electronic music pioneer Brian Eno

“David’s death came as a complete surprise, as did nearly everything else about him. I feel a huge gap now.

We knew each other for over 40 years, in a friendship that was always tinged by echoes of Pete and Dud. Over the last few years – with him living in New York and me in London – our connection was by email. We signed off with invented names: some of his were Mr Showbiz, Milton Keynes, Rhoda Borrocks and The Duke of Ear.

I received an email from him seven days ago. It was as funny as always, and as surreal, looping through word games and allusions and all the usual stuff we did. It ended with this sentence: ‘Thank you for our good times, Brian. they will never rot’. And it was signed ‘Dawn’.

I realise now he was saying goodbye.”

Remembering David Bowie

Tony Visconti, Bowie’s longtime producer and 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.”

Nile Rodgers, Chic co-founder who helped produce Bowie albums “Let’s Dance” and “Black Tie White Noise”

“You can explore the alternate universe of Bowie. I’ve always called him the Picasso of rock‘n’roll, because I know that if I showed him anything—like a grapefruit—he would see the grapefruit that I see and then he’d see the grapefruit that he sees, and they would be two different things. He would have to explain to me his vision of the grapefruit, and then I would go, ‘I get it.’ …

“As a black man in America, there’s not a day that goes by that I’m not reminded of being black. It has nothing to do with me. Some people are just uncomfortable with my presence. It’s never gone away. With Bowie, though, I never felt that at all. He made Let’s Dance with me and guys that he never even met, but he had enough faith to allow me to completely take over. He was like, ‘Nile, take my vision and make it real. You be the empresario.’”

Iggy Pop

“David’s friendship was the light of my life. I never met such a brilliant person. He was the best there is.”

Madonna

“I’m devastated.

David Bowie changed the course of my life forever. I never felt like I fit in growing up in Michigan. Like an oddball or a freak. I went to see him in concert at Cobo Arena in Detroit. It was the first concert I’d ever been too. I snuck out of the house with my girlfriend wearing a cape. We got caught after and I was grounded for the summer. I didn’t care. I already had many of his records and was so inspired by the way he played with gender confusion. Was both masculine and feminine. Funny and serious. Clever and wise...

His photographs are hanging all over my house today. He was so chic and beautiful and elegant. So ahead of his time. Thank you David Bowie. I owe you a lot. The world will miss you.”

Annie Lennox

“Like a gazillion other people, I feel stunned by the news that David Bowie has departed this earth. At the loss of someone who has impacted and influenced your life, you can hardly begin to measure the shape of what’s left behind.

Our personal and collective inner landscape has shifted and we’re trying to come to terms with it. No one exists forever and it seems our elegant gentleman was well aware that his last mortal chapter was about to reach it’s conclusion... He knew… He could see through it all.”

 

Kendrick Lamar, hip-hop artist cited by Bowie as a strong influence on his final album, ★ (Blackstar)

“What a honor, what a soul. David Bowie, Spirit of Gold. RIP.”

Debbie Harry

“I can’t say enough things about David Bowie to show how much I love him.  When the Low album was out and Iggy Pop was about to tour, David played keyboards in Iggy’s band.  They asked Blondie to open for them, and, as they say, the rest is history. Without this visionary and his friend Iggy Pop where would Blondie be today? Silly question and one that can't be answered really, but there is no doubt in my mind that Bowie played a big part in our future successes. As for now, love you David Bowie. xx”

Mick Jagger

“David was always an inspiration to me and a true original. He was wonderfully shameless in his work. We had so many good times together. He was my friend, I will never forget him.”

Bruce Springsteen

“Over here on E Street, we’re feeling the great loss of David Bowie. David was a visionary artist and an early supporter of our music... Always changing and ahead of the curve, he was an artist whose excellence you aspired to. He will be sorely missed.”

Kanye West

“David Bowie was one of my most important inspirations, so fearless, so creative, he gave us magic for a lifetime.”

Elton John

“I am still in shock. Never saw it coming. My deepest condolences to Iman and the family. An amazing life. An amazing career.”

Paul McCartney

“Very sad news to wake up to on this raining morning. David was a great star and I treasure the moments we had together. His music played a very strong part in British musical history and I’m proud to think of the huge influence he has had on people all around the world.”

Lorde

“I’ve never met a hero of mine and liked it. It just sucks, the pressure is too huge, you can’t enjoy it. David was different. I’ll never forget the caressing of our hands as we spoke, or the light in his eyes. That night something changed in me - I felt a calmness grow, a sureness. I think in those brief moments, he heralded me into my next new life, an old rock and roll alien angel in a perfect grey suit. I realized everything I’d ever done, or would do from then on, would be done like maybe he was watching. I realized I was proud of my spiky strangeness because he had been proud of his. And I know I’m never going to stop learning dances, brand new dances.”

Watch David Bowie's best videos

Robyn Hitchcock

“Bowie was an old soul/He made the darkness fun/A star can go on shining/Long after it’s gone. Love on ya, David x”

Cyndi Lauper

“Oh no I am so sorry to hear of David Bowie’s passing. He was such a great artist and has lead the way for so many of us.”

Sleater-Kinney’s Carrie Brownstein

“It feels like we lost something elemental, as if an entire color is gone. #DavidBowie”

KISS frontman Gene Simmons

“David Bowie, you will be sorely missed.

Bowie’s ‘Changes’ and the Ziggy story songs were a major influence for me.”

Melissa Etheridge

“So sad to hear we lost #DavidBowie. He brought androgyny to the world and made it cool. A brave musician and warm person. He will be missed.”

Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan

“When a true star blinks out, the sky looks different and never feels the same.”

Rod Stewart

“Undeniably the fearless leader of the pack, David was the groundbreaking chameleon who impacted us all. Such a colossal loss.”

Sean “Diddy” Combs

“One of the reasons why I always had the courage to change my names and reinvent myself was because of David Bowie. He lived so many different lives. And he did his way. David Bowie God bless you. Rest in peace!”

Funk pioneer George Clinton

“Aw man, the world’s gonna miss a hell of a creator, a hell of a performer and person. I didn’t know him personally, but I met him a couple times, and he’s a hell of a creator. I got a lot of inspiration through the things he did.”

Peter Gabriel

“I was shocked to learn of David Bowie’s death this morning. He meant so much to me and to so many. He was a one-off, a brilliant outlier, always exploring, challenging and inspiring anyone who wanted to push the boundaries of music, art, fashion and society. There are so few artists who can touch a generation as he did, we will miss him badly.”

Mountain Goats founder John Darnielle

“David Bowie’s music, over the years, has meant more to me than I can say. We have lost someone who imparted comfort and strength to us.”

Arcade Fire’s Win Butler

“Goodbye friend. So many tears, and so lucky to have passed in the same solar system.”

Pet Shop Boys

“We are all Bowie’s children. He inspired us and changed our lives. Love, gratitude and respect always for him and his work. Our truest condolences and sympathy to his family.”

R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe

“Right now, it feels as if the solar system is off (its) axis, as if one of our main planetary anchors has lost (its) orbit. That said—I am certain that wherever Bowie is now—I want to be there someday.”

Red Hot Chili Peppers’ bassist Flea

“oh no. my hero. bowie. the most beautiful. i love him with everything i am. rock music is over, done. he was the best. none came close. rip”

Rufus Wainwright

“It was a great honor to have met the man who fell to Earth. Thankfully, though he visited us here, his music always remained in the heavens. David Bowie has returned to the music. RIP”

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