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David Bowie At 75: Why Artists From Dave Gahan And Trent Reznor To Miguel Call Bowie An Inspiration And Icon

As someone who is fortunate to speak to countless artists I can safely say the two most influential artists of this century are David Bowie and Prince. And it’s not really close after those two.

Talk to a hundred artists about who inspires them and the shared ability evolve and do so without compromising is what makes Bowie and Prince icons to an unbelievably wide array of artists.

Today, January 8, would have been David Bowie’s seventy-fifth birthday. In honor of one of the greatest rock stars, and most beloved and revered artists of all time by his peers, here is what some of the biggest stars in music today — from Trent Reznor and Gerard Way to Miguel and Diplo — have said to me about the late great rock legend over the years.

The thing you recognize going through these quotes is how incredibly prolific and profound Bowie’s artistic output and integrity. If you only knew him from either his long list of musical classics — “Young Americans,” “Fame,” “Life On Mars,” “Ziggy Stardust,” “Rebel Rebel,” “Let’s Dance” and on and on — or as an actor — Labyrinth, Absolute Beginners, The Hunger, The Prestige, Twin Peaks, Fire Walk With Me — he would still be iconic.

But as Incubus frontman Brandon Boyd points out, when you look at it all together, it is almost overwhelming. Bowie was a great showman, entertainer, rock star, actor, but most of all, artist. And that is why as he would have turned 75 today, so many artists look up to him as the artist’s artist.

Dave Gahan, Depeche Mode

“I grew up listening to Bowie, so he’s probably the one artist that I’ve continually listened to from when I was 12 years old, by the time I was 16 and suddenly he was making me not feel like an odd person. I related so much to everything that he was, musically and his identity, too.”

Trent Reznor

“I got heavily into Bowie, with Scary Monsters. I was in high school and it was just kind of a weird album that felt kind of impenetrable. Then I went backwards and started learning about, getting into the bulk of kind of classic Bowie. Then went further back into kind of folksy singer/songwriter record, Hunky Dory.

Adam Lambert

” The thing that made Bowie so special is obviously his amazing songs, but also his visual presentation was like nothing else at the time. And he definitely carved out his own lane that way. So whenever I take a risk either sonically or visually I definitely think of artists like Bowie, who paved the way for that type of expression.”

Graham Nash

“I met Bowie a couple of times and on both occasions was very impressed with his intelligence and the energy that poured out of that man was amazing. I personally feel he bordered on the edge of genius many times. And one of the most courageous musicians I’ve ever known about. I love Neil [Young] for his ability to change musically, but to change musically and physically, the way you dress, the way you look, was brilliant on Bowie’s part.”

Dan Reynolds, Imagine Dragons

“Bowie stands for me as individuality and someone who taught me to embrace the quirks of myself and to embrace people. Bowie represents, to me, a person who just symbolized accepting your identity and accepting everyone’s else identity for whoever they are and whatever they choose to identify as.”

Gerard Way, My Chemical Romance

“Probably Bowie, he’s my biggest influence.”

Brandon Boyd, Incubus

“He’s been a bit of a hero of mine since I was introduced to him as a kid, among other people. And the older I get, it’s funny how like music works and visual art for that matter too, if you keep paying attention the more profound these things become. Bowie’s career was so long, but so f**king dense. There was so much material that came out of that dude. He did 20 something movies.


” David Bowie is probably my favorite artist that did that. He always was one step ahead of everybody else doing something cutting edge. I loved his project with Trent Reznor. I loved everything he did his whole career. From funk to glam he was always just one step ahead.”


“[David] Bowie killed it. His evolution was on his own terms, he established that really early on, maintained that up until Blackstar, all the way through.”

Curt Smith, Tears For Fears

“For me, musically, heroes I’ve met that were heroes of mine when I was younger that I’ve found to be completely normal and incredibly sweet were Paul McCartney, David Bowie, Elton John, they were self-deprecating and sort of normal, which was really nice to see.”


“I love David Bowie.”

Joe Elliott, Def Leppard

“I got into David Bowie during Ziggy Stardust and then backtracked to Hunky Dory, which I adore, but I still can’t get past the fact that I discovered Hunky Dory because of Ziggy Stardust. I discovered Man Who Sold The World because of Ziggy Stardust, then I bought Aladdin Sane, which I loved to death, but I only bought it because I got into Bowie on Ziggy Stardust. So everybody has got their anchor to whatever artist you love.”

Miike Snow

“If you think about the ultimate it’s Bowie. He definitely had four careers,”

Boy George

“Bowie Ziggy Stardust is the f**king greatest pop band ever. Bowie is amazing.”


“I’m incredibly grateful for and have been some of the most profound moments of my life. Like as we’ve talked about becoming friends with and going on tour with David Bowie. Considering my first ever job was as a caddy on a golf course and I only did the job long enough to save money to buy David Bowie records, to become friends with him and go on tour with hi, that’s something else that in my mind really could have never entered the realm of possibility.”

Brooklyn Decker

“When I grew up camping we always listened to David Bowie and Pink Floyd, so that always takes me back to my camping days.”

Tre Cool, Green Day

“There are records like Blackstar from David Bowie, that made me cry in the car.”

Liam Gallagher

“Bowie was f**king cool.”

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