An Icon of Icons: How David Bowie Influenced Everyone from Madonna to Kanye
The singer's gift for constant reinvention? No doubt inspired by Bowie, who assumed elaborate personas and alter-egos like Ziggy Stardust, Major Tom, the Thin White Duke and Aladdin Sane. "He was one of the geniuses in the music industry, one of the greatest singer-songwriters in the 20th century," Madonna told a crowd in Houston two days after Bowie's death. "He showed me it was okay to be different."
Boy George has long called Bowie his hero, someone he "credits with changing his life." While the artist was too upset to comment on Bowie's passing, he said via his manager: There "would not be Boy George if it wasn't for David Bowie." The late artist played with masculinity and femininity in a way that inspired other artists to embrace gender confusion.
A multi-instrumentalist like Bowie, the two artists embraced being fundamentally, unapologetically different – and finding the art in androgyny.
Upon hearing of Bowie's death, West tweeted, "David Bowie was one of my most important inspirations, so fearless, so creative, he gave us magic for a lifetime." The rapper's high-concept, revolutionary videos were only ever possible thanks to Bowie's perfection – and subversion – of the medium.
Gaga's extravagant costuming was unthinkable before Bowie's experiments in fashion and makeup. "Bowie's sonic footprint and fashion influence will echo forever because of the musician's innate desire to express themselves and be free," Atlanta DJ Sir Daniel told NBCBLK. "In today's music market you can have a Lady Gaga and a Young Thug that both speak to their generation through music and fashion and push the envelope with little concern for normative thinking around gender."
Bowie was a champion of the gender-fluid, non-binary movement, employing dramatic makeup and glitter and flamboyant clothes, assuming identities that didn't fit any one mold. In an editorial for Rolling Stone, Manson wrote that Bowie "confused and captivated" him when he first saw him on TV, and soon became a profound influence. "Every song of his was a way for me to communicate to others," he wrote. "It was a sedative. An arousal. A love letter I never could have written."
In March of 2015, the band's former leader, James Murphy, covered Bowie's Station to Station track, "Golden Years." (Murphy even played percussion on two tracks off of Bowie's album, Blackstar.) The artist has long been open about Bowie's influence on his music, having grown up listening to him.aa