Remembering Legends: David Bowie & Alan Rickman

I couldn’t believe the news on Monday: David Bowie had passed away of cancer, aged 69. Just now, with Space Oddity still ringing in my ears, I learned that another legend has left us: Alan Rickman died today of cancer. Aged 69.

The world has truly lost two stage and screen legends this week.

David BowieDavid Bowie’s music has been a constant in my life since at least 1999. I may not have been a vocal, all-out fan, but somehow his music was always there, whether I knew it or not. In 2003, his movie Labyrinth became the first one I watched after I moved to New Zealand – it was and still is a favourite of my host family. Then later on, with my ex, a copy of Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence found its way onto our DVD shelf. Two of my favourite shows were directly inspired by his songs, to the point of sharing titles: Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes. But I think what clinched it for me wasn’t his singing or his acting. At least part of why I like him so much is down to the fact that he used to live in Berlin – and spoke German.

To this day, my favourite Bowie songs remain Space Oddity, Let’s Dance, Heroes, Golden Years, and, first and foremost, Life on Mars.

To some, this mix may seem eclectic, but I think it actually represents the musical genius of David Bowie quite nicely. Always reinventing, eccentric, reimagining and pushing boundaries, from Ziggy Stardust to Lazarus. One of my all-time favourite musical collaborations remains Bowie’s work with Queen, which resulted in Under Pressure. Freddie Mercury and David Bowie writing songs together by simply running with what the other recorded earlier – a match made in heaven.

I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who watched Labyrinth on Monday night as a tribute. I’ve been playing his songs non-stop. And I am glad that I belong to a generation that grew up with David Bowie’s music.

I for one can’t think of a more fitting tribute than this version of Space Oddity, recorded by Commander Chris Hadfield onboard the International Space Station:

The stars look very different today. Goodbye, starman!


Alan RickmanStill reeling from David Bowie’s death, this week is one for sad and devastating news. Actor Alan Rickman, known for his portrayals of Hans Gruber in the Christmas classic Die Hard, as well as Professor Severus Snape in Harry Potter, passed away. At the same age, and of the same disease, as Bowie.

To me, he made the villains of the stories the most interesting characters. I’m actually not sure what movie I first noticed him in, though I suspect it was Die Hard. But for me, he will always be Snape. And how could he not? The Harry Potter books and movies were a huge part of my childhood and adolescence.  It takes an actor of Rickman’s calibre to completely change the way you see a character; and turning Snape from being Harry’s most despised teacher into the bravest man he’s ever known, has to be one of his finest achievements.

Rickman was such a creative person. I’ve always respected him, because he started out as a graphic designer, who found his passion in acting and followed that dream. That’s admirable and inspirational. Of course, having his acting talent didn’t hurt. And that voice! Such a recognisable voice! You could tell immediately that is was him, from the Blue Caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland to my favourite manically depressed robot Marvin in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I have obviously never met him, but his humour and wit, as well as the kindness he showed everyone, are as legendary as he is himself.

Years ago, I came across a quote by him, in which he said that when he’s 80, he’d sit in his rocking chair and read Harry Potter. And when his family would ask “after all this time?” he’d answer “Always.” I love that Harry Potter was more than a job for him. And I am so sad that he doesn’t get to be the 80-year-old in the rocking chair reading those familiar books.

But I know that his characters will live on. So many children will still grow up with Harry Potter, and Alan Rickman will take them on the same emotional rollercoaster he has taken this generation (me included).

So farewell, Professor Snape, Half-Blood Prince, Potions Master, and Hogwarts Headmaster. After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure. You’ll always be one of my favourites.


Harry Potter Wands raised



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