I don’t know who at New York Magazine managed to persuade former Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman (or is it the other Bill Wyman?) to write an essay on David Bowie, but you have my thanks. Over to Mr. Wyman:
I very rarely have felt like a rock artist,” David Bowie used to say. “I’ve got nothing to do with music.” More than 40 years on, we see now he was dissembling on both counts. But as with any great act of self-creation, there was an element of truth in the obfuscation, and the roles he was playing in addition—some species of musical-theater provocateur, a high-art celebrity indulging in a low-art mechanism, a transgressive social poet manipulating a pop-cultural moment—seem plain. He was the first rocker to deliberately separate himself from the personae of his songs and onstage characters in a way that challenged his audience. The stardom that resulted was unlikely—he was, let us remember, a self-described gay mime.