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Bowie fans recall singer’s St. Louis shows as deeply emotional experiences

David Bowie performing.
Hunter Desportes | Flickr Creative Commons
David Bowie.

Tammy Merrett is a self-proclaimed “life-long Bowie fan.” After hearing the news that mega-entertainer David Bowie had died on Sunday, Merrett, of St. Louis, reflected on the times she saw him perform in St. Louis.

“I was at both shows,” Merrett wrote, responding through St. Louis Public Radio’s Public Insight Network. She was referring to Bowie’s performance in 1995 at what was then Riverport Amphitheater in Maryland Heights, and in 2004 at the Fox Theatre in St. Louis.

Bowie died Sunday, two days after his 69th birthday. He had been treated for cancer over the last 18 months.

“My heart raced both times as I bought tickets for each show, not sure I would get any," Merrett, 46, wrote on Monday. “I literally jumped up and down both times when I was able to get tickets.

“At the (1995) show with (Nine Inch Nails), it was over before I knew it. I never thought I would see him. It was a dream, but too short. I cried and could barely breathe when he stepped onstage.

“At the Fox show, it was much more intimate, and while I was just as excited to see the man who touched my mind and soul so deeply, I could experience the music in a much more intense way. Tears streamed down my cheeks for much of the show. It was imperfect and perfectly beautiful. I'll never forget how his voice and smile made me feel. I still feel it when I think about it all these years later. I can't believe he is gone.”

Bowie, whose given name was David Robert Jones, will be remembered as a singer, songwriter, record producer, painter and actor. His style defied any formal definition. His music was at various times described as art rock, glam rock, pop, and experimental.

When Blaine Deutsch of Ballwin saw Bowie at the Riverport performance, he was struck by what he called "the diversity of the crowd."

Some were there to see Bowie, some were there to see NIN,” Deutsch, 43, wrote. “The Ziggy Stardust (Bowie’s alter ego) fans weren't quite sure why there were so many kids there dressed in black. All the goth kids were confused by all the "old" people there. A recent college graduate at the time, Deutsch said he fell somewhere between the two groups.

“But once Bowie took the stage, everyone in the crowd was in agreement. This was exactly what they came to see," Deutsch wrote. 

“Bowie taught that music and performance was about much more than just the spectacle, but ultimately, about the emotion it can evoke. This show was a perfect illustration of that, because it changed me forever.”

“I grew up hearing Bowie — classic Bowie. … No matter where I was in my life, David Bowie seemed to be providing the perfect soundtrack," Deutsch wrote. 

"Losing anyone is difficult. Losing an artist is particularly rough, because their departure brings with it the realization that all of the creation they have shared with us up to this point is all there will ever be.”

Bowie’s last album, “Blackstar,” was released on Friday — his birthday. 

Inform our coverage

This report was prepared with the help of our Public Insight Network. Learn more about the network and how you can become a source for St. Louis Public Radio here.

Outreach specialist Linda Lockhart has been telling stories for most of her life. A graduate of the University of Missouri's School of Journalism, she has worked at several newspapers around the Midwest, including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, as a reporter, copy editor, make-up editor, night city editor, wire editor, Metro Section editor and editorial writer. She served the St. Louis Beacon as analyst for the Public Insight Network, a product of Minnesota Public Radio and American Public Media that helps connect journalists with news sources. She continues using the PIN to help inform the news content of St. Louis Public Radio. She is a St. Louis native and lives in Kirkwood.

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