Entertainment/culture Music

R.I.P., Mr. Bowie

I couldn’t believe it when I woke up this morning to the news that David Bowie had passed away. Because there had been so many celebrity death hoaxes, I started checking other news outlets. Not good. Then I checked the official David Bowie Facebook page and Twitter feed.

Oh, no. No hoax:

And on his son Duncan Jones’ Twitter feed:

Aw, crap, I thought. It’s true. The New York Times and BBC are reporting that Bowie died of cancer, type unspecified. Damn. Given Bowie’s long smoking history my first guess is that it was probably lung cancer, but who knows? It’s devastating, whatever the cancer was. He was supposed to be immortal! Certainly, he seemed that way, as he’s been my favorite musician at least since the early 1980s, when I was in college and first dove into his music other than the obvious hits on ChangesOneBowie. His music has been a huge part of my life, so much so that I can’t remember a time before it. Even in his fallow years in the late 1980s when his music was just not up to its old grandeur (indeed, his Glass Spider Tour was as close to a Spinal Tap moment as Bowie ever got), there was always still something there worth listening to. Then, with his resurgence in the 1990s to the present day he proved his relevance time and time again.

Bowie’s death is all the more depressing given that his latest album, Blackstar, is one of the best I’ve heard from him at least since the 1980s. I had been hopeful after hearing it Friday that there would be more where that came from. Alas, it was not to be. Worse, knowning what I know now makes his two videos from the album even more dark than I thought they were when I first saw them:

The video for Lazarus is particularly poignant in retrospect. Some interpret it as him saying goodbye.

Still, longtime collaborator and producer Tony Visconti said that Blackstar was meant to be Bowie’s parting gift to his fans, and that’s not a bad way to go at all:

He always did what he wanted to do. And he wanted to do it his way and he wanted to do it the best way. His death was…

Posted by Tony Visconti on Monday, January 11, 2016

It’ll be an all Bowie day at the old office and lab today. Good thing I don’t have any cases or clinic today. Farewell, and thank you Mr. Bowie.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

32 replies on “R.I.P., Mr. Bowie”

So sad. What a loss.

Wikipedia lists his cause of death as liver cancer, but I’m not sure if that’s true or not. Tragic.

Like many I was excited to hear of the release of his new album. I confess I haven’t thought very much about his music in a long time until this notice and now this. Yes, it is a loss of a great talent.

I’m about your age Orac but the strange way I came to know of him was not through his music but through the movie The Man Who Fell to Earth”.

I still need to dive in his catalogue. The only stuff I own is live. I liked his music, but at the time I was collecting other music.

When I read it this morning, I thought it was a hoax. Unfortunately, it was not.
it was definitely death. But was it art?
(Diary of Nathan Adler)

I first met Bowie when my older sister took me to the cinema to see “Labyrinth”. Not the brightest idea, as I was probably too young then, but Bowie’s image was fascinating. And only then I encountered his music. What a great loss.

He was just one of those people that I thought might never die. So much music, so many characters, over and over.

I could not have said it better. The news hit me like a punch in the stomach. His music, his aura, was part of my life since my teenage years in Brazil, when I would struggle to understand the lyrics, mesmerized by the melody, his unique voice, his total beauty… handsome in so many ways…. It is beyond sad, he leaves a huge, huge gap. Yes, rest in peace, Mr. Bowie

Looking at Bowie’s skin on his last public appearance I’d guess liver cancer, although it could have started elsewhere, of course. RIP to a remarkable legend.

He gave all he could. I wish it was more. I wish there were more like him. Sad to not have more. But … as sad as it is, what he has left us is … sufficient. We have been blessed. It would be rude to ask for more.

Just gutted.

My husband (musician) knew him, though not terribly well, but for a fairly long period. Anyway, he has said to me more than once and repeated again today, “you wouldn’t meet a more thoughtful person.”


While running errands today, every store I went into was playing his music. A testament to how influential he was.

Snopes actually keeps tabs on many celebrities they think are frequent targets of hoaxes, and tries to put out verification or debunking (as appropriate) articles for those celebrities rapidly. So, for the last several celebrity deaths, including Bowie’s, the snopes article was the first to appear in my facebook feed. Of course, they don’t track every celebrity, and they’re not always right, and most of their other articles lag the hoaxes by a few days or weeks, but it’s useful to be subscribed to them.

Personally – I’ve always had mixed feelings about Bowie, and it seems my facebook friends often do too ….

@Delphine — I had the great good fortune of meeting him also. And I didn’t know him well either. (Obviously.) But he was an amazing, lovely man, exactly as one might wish or expect, in my experience.

I saw Lazarus last month, And I’m sure he was saying goodbye. Because I actually thought so then, when I saw the show. To the point that I cried through a good part of it.

But he was always very generous to his audience that way. When he said “Oh, no, love, you’re not alone,” he really meant it. And he really was talking to you.

He had a rare gift. I’m very grateful to have been touched by his work.

I’ll miss him too. I loved him in “The Man Who Fell to Earth.” My kids were introduced to him in the movie “Labyrinth” (younger boy saw part when fourth grade teacher showed it during the day before winter holidays, but they ran out of time… so I had to rent to movie for all of us to see the whole movie, which they enjoyed).

His legal name has always been “David Jones.” He just could not use it for performing because The Monkees had just been created, with Davy Jones. While I did like the TV program for what it was, David (Jones) Bowie was very wise in his decision to not be confused with the other “David Jones” (who died at age 66).

I now have memories (and I don’t care if they are false) of enjoying watching “The Monkees” on TV as a kid and listening to “Space Oddity” on the radio during the late 1960s. (and now I know they are false because I watched the TV program in California, and “Space Oddity” came out when I was in Missouri and Venezuela… stupid Wikipedia).

First Lemmy, now Ziggy Stardust himself.

2016 is shaping up to be a bad year for good music…

He nearly killed himself with cocaine a long time ago. He had at least one heart attack according to a few sources. He was lucky to make it to 69–not exactly young, although I realize his fans saw him as ageless. I do respect famous people for keeping their pending demise quiet, as did Nora Ephron a while back as well. The new album has so much more impact because of that choice.

@Todd & Julian – Reading up on his bio and seeing everything else he has done, I am a bit ashamed to admit my first thought was “No, not Hans Gruber!”…

According to Mr Visconti, Bowie was cremated in NY; there was no funeral.
There will be a memorial concert at Carnegie Hall in March.

You guys are aware that David Bowie is still alive, right? I mean, in a manner of speaking.


*raises hand*

re #36:
“In the Ramtop village where they dance the real Morris dance, for example, they believe that no one is finally dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away — until the clock he wound up winds down, until the wine she made has finished its ferment, until the crop they planted is harvested. The span of someone’s life, they say, is only the core of their actual existence.”

Or in Bowie’s case, until the songs he made are all but forgotten – which won’t happen for a looong, looong time!

i’m an absolute beginner

I have a friend who teaches zazen (sitting meditation) in the LA area. (Brad Warner, look ‘im up!)

He ends every “advertisement” with “beginners only.”

It’s a Zen thing. Shunryu Suzuki Roshi is a good person to start with. Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind in particular.


I am distressed to inform readers that Mssrs Bowie and Rickman will be discussed as ” victims of the for-profit cancer industry” on Wednesday by Mike Adams- who has neither shame nor sense- on his Talk Network internet radio show.

@DW, I’m surprised he’s not including Celine Dion’s husband or brother. Both died last week of cancer. Rene Angelil on Thursday and Daniel Dion on Saturday.

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