It has been stated much of late that all the great rock stars are leaving us. Does this seem so because today’s replacements pale in comparison or is it just a reflection on the fact that they have been part of the first generation of musicians that you could call great, whose profiles were pushed by modern media, mass distribution and the growth of celebrity culture. The debate rages on but what isn’t in dispute is that 2016 saw many much loved artists shuffle off this mortal coil from Prince to Leon Russell to Leonard Cohen and of course Bowie.
As a tribute to their passing Gregg Stewart has taken time away from his usual pursuit of writing and playing nostalgia tinged, eclectic but ultimately forward thinking music to record an album dedicated to that year’s losses, not surprisingly called Twenty Sixteen. The swansong of that wonderful collection and heartfelt tribute is Starman.
Like many I have much to thank Bowie for, his songs came through my radio from ground control, alien signals convincing me that I wasn’t just a loser spending Friday night at home but I was adrift in a world of space cadets, star-crossed lovers and serious moonlight. He conjured moonage daydreams peopled by pretty things and hot tramps, pin-ups, young dudes and scary monsters and you could party with them just by listening.
And as Gregg tastefully adds a suitably hushed and chilled edge to probably his most iconic moment, in our minds we see Ronno lean into him and with Bowie’s arm draped, controversially for the time, around his blonde bombshell wingman the world changed forever. Some might say that music will never be the same again because the likes of Bowie have left us, I say it will never be the same again because they were with us in the first place, Gregg Stewart also knows that all too well.