I was recently reading the blogs I had subscribed to and came across a picture posted by http://metastreamer.blogspot.com/. It was a picture of David Bowie from ala 1970's Ziggy Stardust, and it got me thinking.
Lady GaGa these days seems to have the media these days in the palm of her hand, everyone seems to be buying into her persona, and when people buy into her persona it gets them to not only interact with her music, but Lady GaGa the person as well. This in turn creates a bigger permanent following who will attend her shows(I don't know if concert applies) and buy her albums regularly. GaGa has created a cult following and it doesn't seem to be dying down anytime soon. Now I could go into how Lady GaGa and her types are destroying our youth and culture, but I'll save that one.
The fact is though, that when Lady Gaga dons all her makeup and a crazy outfit designed to make her look more insane then her last appearance, she is instantly recognizable. Now, I cannot confirm this, but I'm almost 90% positive that growing up, "Lady GaGa" did not wear any outfits or crazy makeup the way she does now, she is simply portraying a character.
Now, way back in the early 70's, a man named David Bowie realized that in order to create a legacy and make himself remembered (and not just his music), that he must gain a following of dedicated people who will buy his album and adore anything he puts out. David Bowie wasn't the first to realize this, as Elvis Presley and The Beatles (among many others) all had a certain persona that made people remember who they were. David Bowie was, however, the first to create a completely larger then life persona that grabbed peoples attentions and made them incapable of looking away, coupled with good music to boot!
Back in the 70's though there were no music videos and media was not nearly the same as it was today. Yet David Bowie decided that to create his legacy, and gain a loyal following he would have to create the "larger then life persona" I mentioned. Prior to his transformation Bowie wasn't well known in the American music world. He had already released the "Space Oddity" and "The man who sold the world" albums, which reached number 5 on the UK billboard chats, but with little airplay in the US he didn't have quite the international following he wanted. He realized he must act quickly, and that's what he did.
Bowie arrived in the US in 1971 to embark on his first tour. Bowie decided that to create interest and buzz he would don a dress and makeup on stage to be different. Bowie not only wore the outfit on stage, but to any interview he did as well. The US had quite mixed reactions to Bowie's actions, and most were not positive ones. It's ever reported that a gun was pulled on him on one of his tour stops by a man telling Bowie to "kiss my ass" (whether or not it was literal we will never know). While in New York he met up with local underground stars Lou Reed and Iggy Pop. Lou Reed was known for his warming melodies mixed with great guitar riffs, and Iggy Pop was known as a drugged out rockstar who would always put on an amazing performance for the fans. Meeting these people in new york changed Bowie's life, An ex-girlfriend recalls "scrawling notes on a cocktail napkin about a crazy rock star named Iggy or Ziggy" who wanted to appear as "someone who had just landed from mars"
Due to that meeting in New York Bowie had found his image by combining the great music of Lou Reed and the stage presence of Iggy Pop, and went immediately to work on testing out new images.
What happened next, biographer David Buckley says,"challenged the core belief of the rock music of its day" and "created perhaps the biggest cult in popular culture". in 1972 at the "Toby Jug Pub" in England, Ziggy Stardust was born, and to great success. It boosted Bowie into superstar status in England, and a few months later he released "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust" album. The Ziggy Stardust managed to stay on the English billboards for over 2 years, and catapulted his previous CD's and tracks back onto the billboard. The tour soon rolled into the US, this time to more success then his first venture.
The second tour catapulted "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust" as well as "Space Oddity" and "The Man Who Sold the World" onto the billboard charts. Shortly after his first tour he also released "Aladdin Sane"(which made it to #1 on the UK billboards)
This fame, however, came at a great price, and it is still a demon that haunts Bowie to this day. Early into his transformation Bowie described Stardust as "Offstage I'm a robot. Onstage I achieve emotion. It's probably why I prefer dressing up as Ziggy to being David.". This was the beginning of his cycle into madness. Bowie began portraying the Stardust character on and off stage, and after a while it became hard for him to separate the two personalities. After years of playing the character though, it became impossible. Bowie said, "wouldn't leave me alone for years. That was when it all started to go sour ... My whole personality was affected. It became very dangerous. I really did have doubts about my sanity." He had become so deep in the character that he lost himself.
Bowie still to this day doesn't seem like the same as he was pre-stardust days, even in the way he looks (comparison picture)
1st picture is 1971 pre-stardust bowie. 2nd picture is 1976 post stardust bowie, after he decided not to play the character any longer.
I felt the need to write more about David Bowies en devours as GaGa is more recent and more well known, and her career exploits are all fresh in our memory.
Now back to Lady GaGa, ya remember that girl I started the article off with? Ya, if you noticed her career almost completely contrasts Bowie's, she has created a persona to gather media attention. GaGa was catapulted to #1 on the billboards and will remain there everytime she releases a new album. Gaga took a bland and boring music scene and added a unique character not seem before, for that she has my respect...but I still can't stand her music.
I wrote this as just kind of an observation I had but I guess I could throw in this question as well. Do you guys think that if Lady GaGa continues this character that she will go down the same path as Bowie? And do you think if she did stop portraying that familiar character if she would be able to retain fans?