The rock star, who has died aged 69, enjoyed delighting people with his music and actingby Charlotte Runcie / January 11, 2016 / Leave a comment
In all the tributes that have poured in for David Bowie since his death was announced early on Monday morning, there has been praise of his creativity, individuality and unmatched musical talent. His name has been mentioned alongside Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Michael Jackson and John Lennon as one of the men who changed popular music forever.
But alongside his creative genius, another theme has emerged amid the eulogies. Through all the fashion forwardness, the fearless music and the pioneering poetry of his lyrics, there was something about Bowie that shone brightly in the circles he moved in. It was this: David Bowie was a kind man.
Not just kind, but the most thoughtful, generous and good-humoured of rock stars, a man who made his fans feel as though he was the friend they needed most of all. BBC 6 Music set aside their regular playlists on Monday morning, instead broadcasting several hours of Bowie’s greatest hits interspersed with emailed tributes from fans and celebrity friends. They came in their hundreds. “David Bowie was my best friend,” said one fan message. “He just didn’t know it.”
Doing the rounds on Twitter was a letter that Bowie wrote in response to an American fan, 14-year-old Sandra Dodd. It was 1967, early in his career. “When I called in this, my manager’s office, a few moments ago I was handed my very first American fan letter–and it was from you. I was so pleased that I had to sit down and type an immediate reply… Thank you for being so kind as to write to me and do please write again and let me know some more about yourself,” he signed off. You felt he meant it.
His changing fortunes didn’t dull his generosity. In 1985, at the height of his fame, the Sun journalist Nick Ferrari spotted Bowie talking to Eric Idle in a hotel in Cannes. Desperate for an angle, Ferrari made up an unfounded story about Bowie starring in the next Monty Python film. A puzzled Bowie offered Ferrari an interview the next afternoon, and asked him where he’d got the story. After Ferrari sheepishly admitted to some creative journalism, Bowie simply said: “If it gets you…