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FUV Essentials: Rita Houston's David Bowie

Rita Houston's Bowie necklace (photo by Laura Fedele)

Rita Houston's Bowie necklace (photo by Laura Fedele)


It's 1975 and I'm in the 9th grade at Mount Vernon High School, where disco rules. I hear Young Americans, David Bowie's take on soul music, and it just cracks open my mind. Through the '70s and '80s, as I was coming into adulthood, Bowie was everything to me. He was a rule-breaker and an outsider, like me. He made it okay. And now when I think of him, I'm right back in college singing "Ashes to Ashes" as loud and proud as I can.

I can't grasp that he's gone. It's really hard to put these thoughts in the past tense.

Bowie's death on January 10, 2016, filled WFUV's website and Facebook page with devotions. Fans cited his groundbreaking music, his artistry, his visual sense, his queerness, his high style. It was an outpouring like we'd never seen. He created more than songs or albums: he created personas. Each new project spawned a subculture, to be uncovered by outsiders like me, from the past to the future.

Our next generations of theatre majors, fashion kids, modern dancers, poets, painters, and songwriters will find him. In 2032, when the neighbor's kid buys a new amp and smears on blue eyeliner, you'll be able to thank David Bowie.

Bowie was something different to everyone who loved him. I hope he knew all this. I think he did.