1969 was not only the year of the UK’s first great pop festival, but also David Bowie’s first great single, Space Oddity. It was still a few years till the landmark Top of the Pops appearance which announced him as the most significant figure in UK popular culture, but even without the stunning image he was to create, the hallmarks of his songwriting style were there. In all the discussion of that image, and those which followed, there has, in my view, not been enough recognition given to his supreme gift for melody. Bowie’s tunes are strikingly original and beautifully crafted: for me he’s up there with J.S.Bach. Without those tunes nothing else about him would have had a fraction of the impact. And while his cultural influence would never be as strong again as in the Ziggy Stardust era, the great tunes kept on coming, combined with a fantastic instinct for song dynamics.
I’m happy to say that my son Jordi became a Bowie fan from the age of three, requesting that video of Starman over and over again. Jordi shares his birthday also: Jan 8th is an auspicious date, being also Elvis’s birthday (not to mention Shirley Bassey and the Doors’ Robbie Krieger). Maybe it should become a national holiday.