Planet Earth is a lot bluer today without David Bowie, the greatest rock star who ever fell to this or any other world. He was the hottest tramp, the slinkiest vagabond, the prettiest star who ever shouted "You're not alone!" to an arena full of the world's loneliest kids. He was the most human and most alien of rock artists, turning to face the strange, speaking to the freak in everyone. He stared into your twitchy teenage eyes to assure you that you've torn your dress and your face is a mess, yet that's precisely why you're a juvenile success. Whichever Bowie you loved best — the glam starman, the wispy balladeer, the Berlin archduke — he made you feel braver and freer, which is why the world felt different after you heard Bowie. This man's spaceship always knew which way to go.
That's why he always inspired such fierce devotion. As a teenager in the Eighties, at home glued to my radio on Saturday because I couldn't get a ticket to the Bowie show in Boston, I listened as a group of WBCN DJs arrived at the studio fresh from the show, with a cigarette butt they'd swiped from an ashtray backstage. And I listened with goosebumps as they ceremonially smoked it on the air. Bowie fanatics are like that. Which is why so many different people have heard themselves in his music, whether it's Barbra Streisand covering "Life On Mars?" in 1974 or D'Angelo covering "Space Oddity" in 2012, George Clinton namechecking him on Mothership Connection or Public Enemy sampling him in "Night of the Living Baseheads." Somehow I really thought he'd outlive us all. After all, he'd outlived so many David Bowies before.