10 acts that would not have existed without David Bowie

As Johnny Marr once said: ‘There are musicians who are influenced by him that don’t realise it’

Laurence Mackin Arts / Ticket Editor of The Irish Times looks back over the life of singer-songwriter David Bowie who has died aged 69 following an 18 month battle with cancer.

 

Midway through a stellar six decade career, David Bowie was able to say “I have done just about everything that it’s possible to do”. He wasn’t just talking about music either; the worlds of art, fashion, musical theatre and video were irrevocably changed by his protean presence. Smiths guitarist, Johnny Marr, got it in one when he said of Bowie: “There are musicians who are influenced by him that don’t even realise it”.

1. The Smiths: Morrissey adored Bowie and while there are no direct musical overlaps, 1970s glam-rock Bowie with its cheek and style seeped into Morrissey and Marr’s songwriting.

2. Radiohead: The musical journey from the melodic The Bends to the sombre electronica of Ok Computer had been taken previously by Bowie - a good few times over.

3. Kanye West: When the rapper says “David Bowie was one of my most important inspirations; so fearless and so creative” he is acknowledging that talent need not be constrained by just musical expression. The multi-disciplinary route Bowie pioneered is reflected in West’s many outlets.

4. U2: Bono says of Bowie: “What Elvis meant to America, Bowie meant to Britian and Ireland. He was a radical shift on U2’s consciousness.” When the band were creatively stagnant after Rattle n’ Hum, they went to Hansa Studios in Berlin to reinvient their sound on Achtung Baby - influenced by Bowie having done the exact same thing many years previous.

5. Joy Division: The band were initially named Warsaw as a tribute to the Bowie song Warszawa and were influenced by the Berlin trilogy of Bowie albums - Low, Heroes and Lodger.

6. Gary Numan: A Stars-In-Your-Eyes Bowie.

7. Philip Glass: The minimalist composer wrote two symphonies - Low and Heroes as a homage to the landmark Bowie albums.

8. Suede: In scope and ambition, Suede were never really a Britpop band and when Brett Anderson admitted “Bowie gave me a strong sense of ambition for the band” he was acknowledging how Bowie’s music was the template for their classic Dog Man Star album.

9. Lady Gaga: Her music may be of nugatory value, but the singer says her fashion style and appearance are directly influenced by Bowie’s ever changing personae.

10. Depeche Mode: Singer Dave Gahan got his place in Depeche Mode by auditioning with his version of Bowie’s Heroes. It’s all been downhill from there.

Honorary mentions: The Cure, The Killers, Moby, Nine Inch Nails.

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