Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth penned a poignant tribute to David Bowie for Pitchfork, writing the late musician’s “love and passion for art, in all its intrigue and interplay with nature, was manifest in his smile, his charm.”
Moore praised Bowie’s willingness to “experiment while honoring the grace of tradition,” and noted he was among the few pre-1976 rock heroes — along with Lou Reed, Yoko Ono, Iggy Pop and more — who wasn’t denounced as a dinosaur when “punk road into town.”
In 1997, Moore recalled, Bowie invited Sonic Youth to play “I’m Afraid of Americans” at his 50th birthday concert at Madison Square Garden. While Moore fondly remembered the rehearsal and show, it was a smaller moment backstage that stuck with him.
“[Bowie came] into the communal dressing room area where all the other artists were to say hello and have some photos taken,” Moore wrote. “As he was leaving he turned and shouted, ‘Hi Coco, I’m so happy you’re here! Have a great time!’ to my three-year-old daughter Coco, who I was holding in my arms. She was the only person unaware of any hierarchy of celebrity in the room.”
For Moore, the moment spoke to Bowie’s study of Buddhist philosophy as a young man, and called to mind a legend that the musician had been considering life as a monk, “but his teachers saw his light was needed beyond the monastery and advised him to follow it.”
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Moore continued: “Bowie, fabulous Capricorn, touched each of us in a remarkable and personal way, sharing not only his genuine brilliance for songwriting, but his joy for life, his rock n’ roll love. Now we see, the Starman who’d ‘love to blow our minds’ was indeed the man himself, dignified in his devotion to creative bliss, light and love.”
Two of Moore’s former Sonic Youth bandmates, Lee Ranaldo and Kim Gordon, also wrote tributes to Bowie, both of which appeared on The Talkhouse.
Bowie died Sunday after an 18 month battle with cancer, which he largely kept under wraps as he worked on a musical stage production, Lazarus, and his final album, ★ (pronounced “Blackstar”). The musician’s death has elicited countless tributes, and a memorial concert has been scheduled for March 31st at New York’s Carnegie Hall, featuring the Roots, Cyndi Lauper, the Mountain Goats, Heart’s Ann Wilson, Perry Farrell and Jakob Dylan.