On Bowie by Rob Sheffield


Rating: 3 / 5 stars
Format: Hardback
Published: 28th June 2016
Book Depository | Goodreads

On Bowie is a thoughtful and loving meditation on the life of the late David Bowie that explores his creative legacy and the enduring and mutual connection he enjoyed with his fans

Innovative. Pioneering. Brave. Until his death in January 2016, David Bowie created art that not only pushed boundaries, but helped fans understand themselves and view the world from fantastic new perspectives.

When the shocking news of his death on January 10, 2016 broke, the outpouring of grief and adulation was immediate and ongoing. Fans around the world and across generations paid homage to this brilliant, innovate, ever-evolving artist who both shaped and embodied our times.

I was a little sceptical of this book because of Bowie’s recent death. It kind of felt that the publishers were using that as a way to sell more books. And yes this book was written after Bowie died. The author talks about where he was when he found out the news. I really don’t like companies using the death of a celebrity as advertising (I’m still mad about the mural Facebook put up in Glasgow), but this book does a good job of eulogising Bowie’s life.

There is a part in this where the author talks about how most of Bowie’s younger fans found him through Labyrinth and I was one of those people who came across him through that. I wasn’t even born yet when Bowie was at his biggest, I had only heard his music because my dad was a fan and when in the car we listened to what he liked. But Bowie was one of those musicians I came to enjoy even though he was before my time.

The book is a biography, it tells you about Bowie’s life and how he became the pop sensation he now is. But it also goes into the impact he made on the 60s and 70s. How he changed music and how he showed that it was okay to be openly gay and wear flamboyant clothes. It goes into why he wrote certain songs and what they were about and then it goes on to show how his songs influenced and inspired other musicians and songwriters.

I’m still not keen on using a celebrity’s death to sell books. But this looks at why there was such a huge outpouring of grief when the news of his death broke and as a way to memorialise him I think it’s pretty good.

Thanks for reading.
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*I received a copy of this book from Headline in exchange for an honest review.