David Bowie: Remembering His Genre-Bending Life and Legacy

He was the grandfather of glam rock, a gender-bending and groundbreaking musician, actor and performance artist. One of the most influential artists of his era, David Bowie died of cancer on Sunday—just two days after his 69th birthday and the release of his 28th studio album “Blackstar.”

Here to reflect on Bowie's life and work is Chicago Tribune theater critic Chris Jones.

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"He understood what celebrity is, which is separate from reality," Jones said. "He separated his own life: We don't know how he died, really. We don't know even where he died. No one even said what kind of cancer he had – there was one report that he had liver cancer but it was not confirmed. So there's the death of the real guy, and then there's the death of this persona that he created over all of these years that ended in the most spectacular way.

"I think he's making the point that life is just a brief spell before the lights. We're all characters. He inherently understood that."

Jones wrote a review last month of the Off-Broadway production of Bowie’s new musical “Lazarus” at the New York Theatre Workshop and a column on Monday about the theatrical qualities of Bowie's life.

Below, an excerpt from Jones' column.

Dust awaits us all; Bowie, in his oddness, just decided to make it his life's work to point out that performance and what passes for reality are one and the same.

"Most rock and pop musicians develop an interest in theatricality only after they get sick of expressing some youthful emotion of love or alienation in song after song. They crave bigger narratives, or decide their arena shows should mean something more, that they should strive to tell bigger stories. Rarely is that theatricality inherent. Rarely does it ever risk actual transformation.

"In Bowie, those qualities were there from the start."

Below, Bowie's music video for the song "Lazarus" from "Blackstar."


David Bowie Dies at 69

The iconic musician and artist died just days after his 69th birthday and the release of his 28th studio album, "Blackstar." We revisit our look inside the groundbreaking exhibition that closed just over one year ago at the MCA, "David Bowie Is."

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