Why David Bowie Deserves his 5 Grammy Awards
January 10, 2016 was a sad day for the music fraternity. That was the day when the iconic David Bowie breathed his last breath. He had been diagnosed with liver cancer and that horrible disease became the cause of his death. Bowie was 69.
While David Bowie might have left the world, his music still resonates with his fans around the world. And why wouldn’t it? His was a career built on taking music and live performances to unchartered territories. David was a master of his craft and he did it better than anyone else in the world.
The power of his music can still be felt to this day. There is no better example of that than seeing his last album, “Blackstar” steal the show at the latest Grammy Awards function. The album won not one, not two but an incredible five Grammy Awards, a year after David Bowie passed away. Blackstar was his 25th album and it was one of his best and most celebrated efforts.
If people think that the 5 Grammy wins might have a certain sentimental element attached to them, it would be doing one of the most iconic career in music history, grave injustice. To understand why David Bowie deserves his 5 Grammy Awards, it is very important to go through the career he had.
David Bowie: A Superstar
David Bowie had always been someone to try new things. At school he played the recorder, he sang songs and danced better than most kids of his age. He got hooked to music very early on and then formed his first band at the age of 15. He then left his own band for stints in other groups in search for the kind of music he wanted to make.
Bowie released a few albums in the 1960s and 1970s and at the same time he also learnt about presenting himself to the masses a little differently.
David Bowie’s first few albums did not do too well on the charts so he took a different route to stardom. He dyed his hair in a shade that fell somewhere between red and brown and also started to wear striking clothes. The change was made for Ziggy Stardust, his show. He began to tour around the UK and people liked what he had to offer. He then took the show to the US as well.
Bowie came out with the single Starman and then released his album “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” in 1972. The album as well as the track became huge hits in the UK. That was the breakthrough David had been looking for. His next album “Alladin Sane” went to the top of the charts in the UK.
He made the move to the US in the year 1974 and came out with “Diamond Dogs” in the same year. The album went to the top of the charts in the UK and to number five in the US. David Bowie had arrived.
David came out with eighteen albums more after Diamond Dogs. What made his music different was the fact that he experimented with his twenty five albums. There were elements of pop, funk, folk music, jazz, electronic music, new wave and glam rock in his records. Not only that, but he also redefined stage presence. The way he performed and presented himself opened the doors for a new generation of pop music stars. He pushed the envelope further with everything that he did and owned up to it as well.
Blackstar: The Swansong
Blackstar was David Bowie’s 25th album and it was released two days before he passed away. It turned out to be his swansong but it wasn’t really meant to be like that. Donny McCaslin worked on Blackstar with David Bowie. McCaslin was asked by David to lead the sessions and this is what Donny Said:
“David was writing new music, and we were going to go back into the studio in January (2016) and start recording new musicI.”
Donny also said that David did not really know that he was about to die.
Anyways Blackstar came out and it in a way encapsulated Bowie’s career and how he had always wanted his music to be. Tony Visconti, who had been David’s manager for a long time said that it was a deliberate attempt on their part to avoid rock’n’roll.
Blackstar had all sorts of different genres incorporated in it. Jazz, art rock, experimental rock, hip hop, industrial rock and folk-pop all combine to make Blackstar such a special effort. The critics gave the album rave reviews and it did well on charts in countries around the world.
The interesting thing is that before Blackstar came out, David Bowie had won only 1 Grammy Award. The album however changed that. It was nominated in five categories and won in all five of those.
David Bowie was a superstar. At the time of his death it was Tony Visconti who posted this tribute:
“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.”
This in a nutshell is what David Bowie was. He reinvented himself continuously. In a time and age where people run after the spotlight by doing what is popular and not what they believe in, David stood his ground and stayed true to his beliefs. It is not an easy thing to do if you are to remain in the spotlight but he did it.
David Bowie did not shirk away from experimenting and he stuck to his convictions till the very end. Blackstar turned out to be his swansong and with 5 Grammy wins, it also cements David Bowie’s legacy as an all time great.