By Tommy Hough
We've lost too many as it is lately, but as we lose our rock stars and our musical giants – the ones who gave us so much music and served as the soundtrack for so many watershed moments in our lives, whether at home with headphones or at a festival with 40,000 fans – we're reminded of our own mortality and how quickly our lives pass by.
Along with friends, family and loved ones, part of what we hold on to as the world moves from one day to the next is the cultural stream, where we find inspiration and kinship over movies, books, art and music. Along with travel, the arts inspire a renewal of our internal batteries and lust for life, and remind us that this is indeed a very big world with many wonderful places to experience and explore.
But we wouldn't be human if we didn't stop to acknowledge those we lose along the way – those who inspired us, and those whose journeys come to an end at the beginning or in the middle of our own. We can be happy that we shared time at all on earth with our heroes and creative luminaries, and we know the good stuff – movies, books, art and music – will be there for us tomorrow ready to inspire again. That is a gift no matter which side of the artistic spectrum you may be on.
Sadly, in my short time at 91X, we've lost Scott Weiland, Lemmy, John Bradbury, Natalie Cole and now David Bowie. With Bowie's death we're reminded that Lou Reed and Mick Ronson have also been gone for some time now too. We should be thankful we ever had any of them at all.
David Bowie moved from one phase of his career to another so quickly that his incarnations seemed to last only a year or two, sometimes only a matter of months. But throughout his creative career, every Bowie incarnation left another sub-genre of rock and roll behind for other artists to explore and realize. The volume of great David Bowie songs speak for themselves.
And while it's not unusual to hear music differently or pick new things out after the death of an artist, as I was playing my sets this morning – not just the Bowie tracks – I couldn't help but notice the man's enormous influence on a band here, or another angle on a song there. How can you avoid it?
Whether a hippie folkie, androgynous gender-bending singer-songwriter, androgynous gender-bending glam rocker, smooth purveyor of plastic soul, a decadent British expat living along the Berlin Wall, a wildly successful MTV popsmith or an artist who could credibly share a bill with Nine Inch Nails by playing Trent Reznor's own electronica game, Bowie conquered all while pioneering pools of rock and roll and enabling multiple musical careers along the way – Scott Weiland among them.
We wish the best for all of the friends and families of our extended Rock and Roll Family who've lost loved ones. We know this world can feel like a tougher place when we're no longer sharing the same air, water and space with our heroes on earth. Sudden losses like Bowie's death are even more shocking.
So we look back to the music, to the art, to whatever it is that captivated us – and we find something new that we never noticed before.
That's inspiration. That's art.
That's the gift.
Thank you for everything David Bowie, 1947 – 2016.
A San Diego County planning commissioner and former radio host at 91X and FM 94/9, Tommy Hough works as an environmental consultant with the ReWild Mission Bay campaign, and is a California Democratic Party delegate and the co-founder and former president of San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action.