Oh I’ll be free. Just like that bluebird. Oh I’ll be free. Ain’t that just like me.’
For David Bowie, even death was performance art.
In those parting words from “Lazarus” — a song on Bowie’s jazz-influenced 25th and final album “Blackstar,” released just three days before his death on Sunday from terminal cancer he’d kept hidden from the world — the music and cultural icon says a posthumous goodbye to his legions of admirers.
Free. Just like him. Just another phase in the long procession of public and artistic personas this master of self-reinvention had tried on for size over the years.
Only fans weren’t ready to let go.
For three hours on Sunday night, DJ Eric J. Lawrence of Santa Monica’s KCRW 89.9-FM aired an impromptu Bowie marathon that tapped five decades of music. Bowie had played many of those same songs at a Santa Monica Civic Auditorium concert in October 1972. A recording of that show was so widely bootlegged that it was officially released as an album, titled “Santa Monica ’72,” in 2008.
On Monday, Venice muralist Jules Muck (who had been listening to KCRW) headed to Mar Vista to spray paint a tribute mural of Bowie circa “Aladdin Sane” outside Time Warp Music at the corner of Venice Boulevard and Ocean View Avenue.
“He was so out-there. The stuff Bowie did in public was so weird. His gender-bending and his music and performance made it more possible for artists to do the risqué stuff. His example was so helpful for the rest of us,” Muck said.
Muck’s mural-in-progress — on the same wall where she’d just painted a posthumous tribute to Motörhead’s Lemmy and had done the same in 2013 for Lou Reed — attracted a crowd by mid-afternoon, including singer Jessica Long of the band Miss Jessica and The Sugar Shack Attack, who play Danny’s Venice each first Wednesday of the month.
“When I was about 10 I got a Bowie haircut and shaved my eyebrows. I was a true believer,” Long said. “It was his constant movement and evolution. People evolved with him.”
— Joe Piasecki