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Why we’ll especially miss David Bowie

Entertainer David Bowie performs during a concert

Entertainer David Bowie performs during a concert celebrating his 50th birthday Thursday, Jan. 9, 1997, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Ron Frehm) Photo Credit: AP / RON FREHM

Ziggy did so much more than play guitar.

And so we’ll miss David Bowie, the restless chameleon of music, fashion, performance, and identity. In a world that craves originality but seldom finds it, and even more rarely understands what that means, Bowie was genuinely singular.

He wrote the template for personal reinvention and not only made it OK to evolve, but also made it essential. We all go through ch-ch-ch-ch-changes as we live our lives. Sometimes in our discomfort we hide elements of who we are. But Bowie publicly and flamboyantly embraced the many facets of his many personae. His experimentation broke musical and social boundaries, and he became a source of endless fascination and adulation — among men and women, straight and gay, young and old, eccentrics and straight arrows, and lovers of all kinds of music. Others followed his lead, but it always seemed more forced.

Bowie’s music was part of countless movie and TV soundtracks, and his acting graced both films and the stage. His final record, released on his 69th birthday, two days before his death from cancer on Sunday, was an appropriate goodbye kiss. “Blackstar” is vintage Bowie — unexpected and, in its jazz orientation, completely different.

There is a certain unreality to his passing. His many selves — from Ziggy Stardust to the Thin White Duke, from Major Tom to Aladdin Sane to Halloween Jack — made him seem immortal. Bowie always would be with us in one form or another. But he had served us notice. Time may change me, he sang, but I can’t trace time. Turn and face the strange, he advised. And so we do — the strangeness of life without David Bowie.