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Right On: Six Possible Titular Tributes To David Bowie

The most iconic music artists tend to be remembered in the strangest of ways. While there are a lot of industry standard practices – on-stage tributes from other musicians, passionately written obituaries, posthumous releases and the like – there are also several other ways in which we sometimes see these formidable figures immortalised. Sometimes it’s a statue or a park in the artist’s name; sometimes it’s a movie biopic like Bohemian Rhapsody (based on the life of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, whose show ended 27 years ago this week) or a massive tell-all book (Frank Sinatra).

These days it can even be a video game or a hologram concert, cf Elvis Presley or that impending ABBA digital touring project. You never really know what a motivated fan with the means to organise any sort of tribute might pull off.

We can also rest assured we’re not done seeing remembrances and celebrations of David Bowie. Almost three years after his death, The Thin White Dame still has an extremely devoted following around the world, and nothing’s going to change that anytime soon, in fact his legend appears to be on the upski. So, considering some of the above and delving into more specific ideas, these are some possibilities to keep an eye out for.

1. Statue

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The obvious choice here is a statue, which could be built anywhere from London to New York, and take just about any form at any scale. There has actually been a statue of sorts erected in Aylesbury, and known as the Earthly Messenger sculpture. Acknowledging my family connections to the Buckinghamshire town I was christened in (my infant school years were in nearby Bletchley, round the corner from where the family of Bowie’s 1970s fashion designer Freddie Burretti lived) I was happy to help fund it, but Andrew Sinclair’s ambitious work is more of a sculpted art project than a traditional statue, and it’s been the source of controversy and vagrant vandalism thus far. Don’t be surprised if at some point in the near future there are other statues erected – perhaps of a more solo variety, and set up more as showcases in public spaces, or places relevant to Bowie and/or music history.

2. Major Biopic

To date, one of the more relevant films to Bowie’s career is probably Ben Stiller’s wacky comedy Zoolander, in which the singer made a sort of extended cameo as himself (though he appeared in numerous films with varying degrees of success). But in the future, a major, Oscar-quality biopic seems like a virtual certainty. There’s a fairly extensive list of genre-defining artists who have been further immortalised in this particular way, and people are already discussing who could play the artist. I’d venture to say this is absolutely going to happen at one point.

3. Obscure Shrine

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Music fanatics aren’t above some rather strange tributes, which is why we see unusual, obscure, or practically hidden shrines and remembrances now and then. For instance, there’s a plaque by an otherwise nondescript lake in Georgia in which Otis Redding died, and a tree dedicated to Michael Jackson in Budapest. The king of sap, perhaps? Clearly the very nature of this concept keeps me from making an exact prediction, but we can expect something unexpected to pop up at some point.

4. Video Games

We aren’t talking about a major console game here so much as a small tribute. Online betting industries have come to include a lot of activity, and while some countries still forbid casino gaming, many have embraced it, leading to all kinds of innovative game design – and more than a few games based on music, paying tribute either to disbanded groups or deceased artists (such as Jimi Hendrix). Something along these lines dedicated to Dame David is actually a fairly easy project for someone to develop, and it seems about as likely as not to happen.

5. Memorial Building

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To my knowledge there is not yet a building specifically dedicated to Bowie. The closest thing may be a landmark mural depicting his 1973 alter-ego Aladdin Sane taking up the whole side of a renovated American apartment building in Jersey City, just outside Manhattan. But it’s likely enough that at some point a concert hall, bar, music school, or anything similar names a building or wing after DB. It’s simply the way of things that influential figures receive honours like this, and few in music would be more deserving.

6. Marked Natural Area

It comes to mind that Beatle George Harrison’s ashes were scattered in the Ganges River in India. Now, this is actually a specific tradition, as the river is viewed by many as a holy place, and it’s not uncommon for people to spread ashes there. But this type of tribute is a beautiful thing that could well happen with an artist of Bowie’s stature. Ashes (to Ashes) are off the table, but there are all kinds of ways to mark nature with the memory of a human being.

And David Bowie was always way more than just human.

Steve Pafford


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