Last night, on Saturday Night Live, the program took a quiet time-out from the hilarity to pay tribute to the late, great David Bowie.
Former SNL cast member, Fred Armisen, star of Portlandia, was on the show to comment on David Bowie’s life and legacy, saying the Bowie had “transformed live television.”
“When I was in high school, and living in Long Island, I stayed up to watch David Bowie play on Saturday Night Live. And watching him, was, for me, a life changing experience. He had these backup singers that were like choir singers from the future, and a toy poodle with a TV monitor in his mouth. David Bowie transformed whatever space he was in, whatever medium he was using, and that night, for me, he transformed live television. I encourage you to go to NBC.com to watch all of his live performances from that night in 1979.”
— Saturday Night Live (@nbcsnl) January 17, 2016
Here’s David Bowie’s 1979 performance that Fred Armisen was referring to. Bowie performed “The Man Who Sold the World” and was accompanied by a New York drag artist and cabaret singer, Joey Arias and German performance artist Klaus Nomi.
Fred Armisen was a cast member on Saturday Night Live from 2002-2013, and his is only the latest in a long string of tributes paid from artists, in all mediums from around the world. It didn’t seem to matter if they were a writer, a painter, a comedian, a filmmaker or an actor or an actress, artists of all ilk seemed to be affected by David Bowie’s life, work and death.
Last Thursday, WTF Podcast host, Marc Maron started off his show with his own homage to David Bowie. Maron said that he attributed a lot of his own creative confidence to David Bowie.
David Bowie was born David Robert Jones in 1947. He lived his early life in south London and acquired an interest in music while at the Burnt Ash junior school. Bowie started his first band when he was 15 and became a professional music in 1963 when he signed his first contract. David changed his last name from Jones to Bowie in an effort to not be confused with Davey Jones, the lone English member of the American band, The Monkees.
In 1969, Bowie got his first song in the top five on the UK Singles Chart. That song was “Space Oddity.” David came back in 1972 with an alter ego, Ziggy Stardust, and a new album called The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.
In 1975, Bowie switched up gears again with the album Young Americans, and his first No. 1 single in the United States, “Fame.” Three albums, known as the “Berlin Trilogy,” followed quickly in 1977 and 1979: Low, Heroes, and Lodger.
David Bowie collaborated with Queen in 1981 for “Under Pressure” and reached a commercial high point in 1983 with “Let’s Dance.”
Bowie wasn’t only an influential musician, David also played many film roles throughout his life starting with The Man who Fell to Earth in 1976 in which he played Thomas Jerome Newton, an alien who comes to Earth to get water for his home planet. In 1986, Bowie played the Goblin King, Jareth, in the Jim Henson masterpiece, Labyrinth and in 1988, he played Pontius Pilate in Martin scorcese’s The Last Temptation of Christ.
David Bowie was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.
David Bowie’s final album, Blackstar, was released on January 8, two days before his death. After his death, Bowie’s long time friend and producer, Tony Visconti, said that Bowie knew that Blackstar would be his final gift to his fans, and composed it as such.
[Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images]