Madonna: Bowie changed my life

NEW YORK • David Bowie's music has returned to stage after his death, with stars including Madonna and Elton John dedicating emotional tributes to the legend by singing his songs.

The British rock legend's death on Sunday at age 69 after an undisclosed battle with cancer has triggered an outpouring of grief from fans and leading artists, many of whom cite him as a towering influence.

"He was one of the geniuses in the music industry, one of the great singer-songwriters of the 20th century," Madonna told the audience at her concert on Tuesday night in Houston, according to a video posted online.

Madonna, known for her elaborate show routines and expansive sense of sexuality, said she saw Bowie in Detroit when she was growing up in Michigan and "he changed my life".

"He showed me that it was okay to be different. He was the first Rebel Heart I laid eyes on," she said, referring to the title of her latest album.

With a slideshow of Bowie images on the screen behind her, she sang an energetic cover of his Rebel Rebel, throwing down her skirt to prance across the stage in bright purple and red shorts.

John offered a more sedate cover as he taped an appearance on the Sirius XM satellite radio station in Los Angeles. As his band was still setting up, John spontaneously sang and played the piano to Space Oddity, Bowie's early hit with the probing opening lines, "Ground control to Major Tom".

"We don't have to say anything about the music: It speaks for itself. He was... boundary-changing, and he danced to his own tune," John said, as quoted by Billboard magazine. He applauded Bowie for keeping his illness quiet in an age of 24-hour social media.

"We know David Bowie the figure, the singer, the outrageous performer, but actually, we don't know anything about him - and that's the way it should be in music and should be in any art form whatsoever," he said.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 15, 2016, with the headline 'Madonna: Bowie changed my life'. Print Edition | Subscribe