On the day after John Lennon was shot, I was working at BBC News. I clearly recall the shock and excitement, the sound of decks being cleared to accommodate an historic event, but I do not have the impression that there was anything like the fuss which, last night, cleared the whole of the first half of the main news bulletin, for reflections and appreciations of David Bowie. That strikes me as excessive.
This morning in the Times newspaper, a critic who is described ‘as Bowie’s representative on Earth’ defines him as ‘more imaginative than Lennon and Dylan’, who broke their moulds a dozen years before Bowie made his mark.
In some respects, I suspect, Bowie moved into the vacuum left by Lennon and Dylan in a fallow decade. In others – far beyond the limits of music – he created his own legend.
Strictly from a musical perspective, I doubt that his originality was equal to theirs. Or that we will reach for his songs, as we do for Lennon’s ‘Imagine!, in times of public crisis.
Bowie was brilliant in his own unique way. Comparisons are superfluous.