Today, we celebrate the enduring legacy of David Bowie, a seminal figure in British music. His initial foray into the music scene in the late 1960s, marked by the release of his self-titled album in 1967, showcased a unique nursery rhyme style that didn’t immediately catch the public’s attention.
However, Bowie’s adaptability and evolving sound soon caught the zeitgeist. His 1969 single ‘Space Oddity’ became a cultural milestone, aligning with the Apollo 11 Moon landing and setting the stage for his rise to fame. The early 1970s witnessed his transformation into a glam-rock icon, particularly through his Ziggy Stardust persona. This shift was influenced by the proto-punk sounds of The Velvet Underground and Marc Bolan’s work with T. Rex.
During the 1960s and 70s, Bowie’s musical tastes were eclectic. He admired The Beatles and The Rolling Stones and was an early appreciator of The Velvet Underground and Nico’s albums. His appreciation for diverse musical styles was evident when he guest DJed on BBC Radio 1 in March 1979. He showcased a range of genres, from Little Richard’s rock ‘n’ roll to Talking Heads’ new wave music.
One notable inclusion in his set was ’96 Tears’ by Question Mark and the Mysterians, a 1966 hit recognized as a precursor to psychedelic and proto-punk music. This song, along with other tracks like John Lennon’s ‘Remember’ and works by The 13th Floor Elevators, reflected the era’s musical landscape.
Bowie’s admiration extended to The Stranglers, a British punk band who covered ’96 Tears’ in 1990. This gesture of musical homage underlines the vast influence Bowie had on artists across generations, illustrating his role in shaping the course of modern music.