It was a shock to wake up this morning and learn that David Bowie had died yesterday at the age of 69. He burst into my consciousness back in 1972 and it seems like he never left. The New York Times has a pretty good obituary which you can read here.
David lived at least in part in New York City. And of course, our paths did cross. Back in 1976, I was at CBGBs to see the band Television. My girlfriend and I were seated at a table. At some point she leaned forward and whispered to me that “there’s a guy back in standing room trying very hard to look like David Bowie.” I turned around to see what she was talking about. Then I turned back, leaned in and told her “no, that is David Bowie.”
After Television had finished, we got up and walked out of the club. David Bowie was right in front of me, holding the first of the two doors to the outside. He made sure I held the door before he released it, and then he opened the outer door.
David walked merely a step or two outside CBGBs when a man put his hand out and said “hey mister…ya got a quarter?” David pulled a coin out of his suit, put it in the guy’s hand and said “here you are, my good man.” I turned around and said something to my girlfriend. I turned back after a second or two and David was no longer there.
I’ve told that story any number of times since then. Once, someone told me this one back. He was working as a messenger and had to deliver a package to David. He went to David’s building and was told to go upstairs. He was let in and found David sitting at his disk. David thanked the messenger, spoke to him for a few minutes and then said “don’t go yet, I have to get my wallet.” David returned with his wallet and tipped the messenger. The messenger told me that “David seemed liked a regular guy.”
Perhaps in manners he was. In talent, he was extraordinary.