Our “Some Thoughts From” series – an aggregation of thoughts from around the web from our favorite industry insiders – is back. In light of the death of music icon and fashion influencer David Bowie, which occurred on this date a year ago, we turn our attention to the legendary musician and his thoughts on fame, copying, media and more …
On style: I don’t have stylistic loyalty. That’s why people perceive me changing all the time. But there is a real continuity in my subject matter. As an artist of artifice, I do believe I have more integrity than any one of my contemporaries.
On the media, his political aspirations and Adolf Hitler: Christ, everything is a media manipulation. I’d love to enter politics. I will one day. I’d adore to be Prime Minister. And, yes, I believe very strongly in fascism […] Show them what to do, for God’s sake. If you don’t, nothing will get done. I can’t stand people just hanging about. Television is the most fascist, too. Adolf Hitler was one of the first rock stars. He was no politician. He was a media artist himself. He used politics and theatrics and created this thing that governed and controlled the show for those 12 years. The world will never see his like. He staged a country. – 1976
On art: Did we make anything? Not by any means. [I’m] more like a tasteful thief. The only art I’ll ever study is stuff that I can steal from. I do think that my plagiarism is effective. Why does an artist create, anyway? The way I see it, if you’re an inventor, you invent something that you hope people can use. – 1976
On being copied: All I’ve made is an impact and a change, which, of course, is worth a lot. I keep telling myself that. The best thing to say about it all is that it’s archetypal rock ‘n’ roll business. Read the reports of the Beatles, the Stones and a lot of other big entertainers and take some kind of amalgamation of all that; it’s a pretty accurate picture of my business.
John Lennon has been through it all. John told me, “stick with it. Survive. You’ll really go through the grind and they’ll rip you off right and left. The key is to come out the other side.” I said something cocky at the time like, “I’ve got a great manager. Everything is great. I’m a Seventies artist.” The last time I spoke to John, I told him he was right. I’d been ripped off blind. – 1976
On fame: Fame itself, of course, doesn’t really afford you anything more than a good seat in a restaurant. That must be pretty well known by now. I’m just amazed how fame is being posited as the be all and end all, and how many of these young kids who are being foisted on the public have been talked into this idea that anything necessary to be famous is all right. It’s a sad state of affairs.
However arrogant and ambitious I think we were in my generation, I think the idea was that if you do something really good, you’ll become famous. The emphasis on fame itself is something new. Now it’s, to be famous you should do what it takes, which is not the same thing at all. And it will leave many of them with this empty feeling.” – 2003
On being an artist: I suppose for me as an artist it wasn’t always just about expressing my work; I really wanted, more than anything else, to contribute in some way to the culture I was living in. – 2002