Photo Credit: Masayoshi Sukita

David Bowie's passing has hit me like a ton of bricks. When I heard the news upon waking on January 11th, my initial reaction was one of complete denial. This couldn't be. Am I still asleep? Is this just a bad dream? Aren't magical beings supposed to live forever? I simply couldn't imagine a world without David Bowie in it. As soon as I'd established what I was hearing was true, the tears started to flow. The stars look very different today...

I still haven't fully recovered from the shock. In fact, I have spent the last few days in a daze and have been having trouble forming coherent thoughts, or focusing on anything, but I have to at least try to put my feelings into words, because this beautiful man had such a profound impact on my life, and I know I'm not alone. Oh no love, you're not alone...

To be honest, I have never seen such a collective, heartfelt reaction to the loss of an artist. I am not only referring to the reactions of the myriad celebrities who've shared their personal stories, but to the touching words I've read or heard over the last few days from friends and strangers of all ages and all walks of life. The truth is, David Bowie touched and inspired so many of us, left such a lasting impression on us, that losing him is like losing a part of ourselves. I'll stick with you, baby, for a thousand years...

I was first introduced to Bowie by my two older brothers, in the mid-70s. I was only 6 or 7 years old at the time, so, of course, I didn't fully grasp his lyrical genius, but I was mesmerised nonetheless. I was but a child, but I knew what I was hearing was extraordinary. I remember hearing Space Oddity for the first time and being transported to another dimension. I also recall watching The Man Who Fell to Earth and being equally mesmerised. Who was this beautiful, unearthly being? Where did he come from? Is there life on Mars?

In the early 80s, as I came of age and began to develop my own musical tastes, I fell in love with Duran Duran, my favourite band to this day. They taught me that being a weirdo was okay; I didn't have to fit in, I didn't have to follow the conventions of society, I could be myself, and it didn't matter what anybody else thought, because being true to yourself is the only way to be. Duran Duran had learnt that lesson from David Bowie. If he had never existed, they never would have existed. I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that none of my favourite artists would exist today if it weren't for David Bowie. Truth be told, I wouldn't be the person I am today. He paved the way for us all, because not only did he give us permission to be weirdos; he gave us something to aspire to. You and I will rise up all the way. All because of what you are. The prettiest star...

In the summer of 1986, I spent a couple of weeks at my dad's house in The Laurentians, north of Montreal. It was beautiful there, but as a city kid, I'd been going a little stir crazy in the wilderness and needed to get out, to be with "my people" so to speak. So, when my older cousin came to visit, I begged her to take me to a local alternative bar called Le B-52. The bar itself is long gone, but my cousin still talks about that night to this day. Pale as a ghost and dressed in black from head to toe, I was in my element, but my poor cousin, 12 years my senior and married with children, felt rather out of place. However, what struck her, and why she talks about that night to this day, was that these teenage misfits, myself included, were all dancing and singing along to David Bowie. We happened to go there the night a Bowie cover band, all underage, were performing in the back lot. Let's sway, under the moonlight, the serious moonlight...

For me, it was magical. For my cousin, it was surreal. She couldn't wrap her head around the fact that a bunch of freaky, little kids knew all the lyrics to The Man Who Sold The WorldChanges, Ziggy Stardust, Suffragette City, HeroesThe Jean Genie, Rebel Rebel, Young Americans; all songs she had grown up with. I tried to explain it to her. Of course, this was the year Labyrinth had been released and Bowie was the Goblin King, and he was our king! However, despite our young age, we were all acutely familiar with the numerous reincarnations of our king over the years: Major Tom, Ziggy Stardust,  Aladdin Sane, The Thin White Duke. To my cousin, he was merely a rock star. To us, he was our fearless leader, the innovative enigma responsible for changing the face of music, and we all knew it. And these children that you spit on, as they try to change their worlds, are immune to your consultations, they're quite aware of what they're going through...

The following year, I got to see David Bowie live in Montreal on The Glass Spider Tour. The supporting act was Duran Duran. It was a dream come true, an indescribable experience I will never forget. I've been fortunate enough to see Duran Duran live several times since then, but I never had the opportunity to see Bowie live again.  Despite being seated in the nosebleeds, words simply cannot express how grateful I am to have had that experience. We scanned the skies with rainbow eyes and saw machines of every shape and size...

I only wish I could have met him. I wish I could have thanked him. Perhaps someday, I will. There's a starman waiting in the sky, he's told us not to blow it, 'cause he knows it's all worthwhile...

David Bowie's departure has left a void that I can't even begin to put into words. Yet, with his parting gift, the remarkable album, Blackstar, released on his 69th birthday only two days before he died, he left us not only with a masterpiece, but with a final lesson. He always made us believe that anything was possible, he never disappointed us, and he challenged us, right up until the very end.  With grace and dignity, he turned his death into a work of art. There is only one way to even attempt to fill this void and that is to create art, like he did, right up until the very end. You know, I’ll be free. Just like that bluebird. Now ain’t that just like me.