Tributes to humble’ former resident Bowie
The world knew David Bowie as an iconic performer, but in Bermuda he was a loving husband, a fan of the arts and a welcoming neighbour.
While he will be celebrated as one of the most influential musicians of all time, yesterday Bermudians fondly recalled a charming and humble family man whose unassuming personality belied his rock-star status when he resided in Somerset during the 1990s.
From chance meetings in furniture stores and art galleries to invitations for codfish breakfast, readers of The Royal Gazette shared with us their anecdotes of Mr Bowie — born David Jones — who died on Sunday, aged 69, after an 18-month fight against cancer.
During his nearly 50-year career, Mr Bowie produced more than 100 singles, including Let’s Dance, Space Oddity, Starman, Modern Love, Heroes, Under Pressure, Rebel, Rebel and Life on Mars, and acted in a number of films including Labyrinth and The Prestige. Despite his battle with cancer, he remained creatively active. His latest album, Blackstar, was released last week and a musical co-written by Mr Bowie and featuring his music, Lazarus, premiered in New York late last year. Among the cast is Bermudian actor Nick Christopher.
Mr Bowie moved to the Island shortly after he made the unusual move to issue bonds for his future earnings in 1997, with investors buying $55 million in “Bowie bonds”, backed by income from his back catalogue.
He lived in the house Seaview on Cambridge Road, where he recorded much of his 1999 album Hours ... in a home studio. While the album drew mixed reviews, it made history by becoming the first album by a major artist to be officially sold as an internet download.
Mr Bowie also recorded a cover of John Lennon’s song Mother while on the Island. The song was intended to go on a tribute album for Mr Lennon, who both co-wrote and sang on Mr Bowie’s hit song Fame. While the album was never formally released, the recording is available online.
Among the locals paying tribute yesterday were Christina Francisco, who worked for Mr Bowie in his home and called him a “brilliant man who loved life”, and former neighbour Michael Scott, the Progressive Labour Party MP, who described him as both a fascinating artist and a humble family man.
Asked about the Island, Mr Bowie once said: “We loved it in Bermuda during our time there. Quiet, respectful, a dreamscape atmosphere out in the part of the island where we lived.
“Nobody ever bothered us. But, of course, I have the best protective camouflage in the world. I am married to Iman. Do you think when we were walking along the street together in Hamilton anybody ever gave me a second glance? Do you think anybody even noticed me? Honestly?”
• If you have stories or photographs of Mr Bowie from his time on the Island, please send them to email@example.com.
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Ada Nyabongo (1926-2020)
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