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I remember first holding a cassette of David Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars in my hands when I was around four years old. The cassette was purchased for me by my father and it was explained to me that Bowie’s music came from the same place my Dad did, England. In actual fact, Bowie did not just share the same homeland as my father, who is a few years older than Bowie, but they also went to school together. My father would later elaborate that “little Davey Jones”, as he liked to call him, was an oddball and that my father and his friends used to beat him up. However, this anomaly did not stop Bowie from being an on-going presence in my childhood. I played that cassette over and over on a Fischer Price tape player; "Suffragette City" I got right away, "Starman" I only started enjoying at the age of eight.

Bowie also played a large role in my early love of films. Labyrinth was an obvious choice for a child born in 1985, but my parents also made sure I watched The Man Who Fell to Earth. Bowie’s sweetly childish presence mixed with a slightly sinister charm definitely led me to a more varied preference for style of a leading man. Like many are writing today and will be in the days to come, David Bowie’s prolific consistency was dependent on his ability to change. Like a chameleon surviving in the wild, he understood that to remain stagnant was almost certain death for an artist. Listening, watching, and consuming him from a young age instilled in me and others a challenge to change, to reinvent, and most importantly, to grow. Bowie’s lineage as an artist is one that consistently sought to be bolder and different.

Now as a 30-year-old woman, I understand why my father thought it was important for me to have that cassette at such a young age, from a musician that he admittedly thought was weird and different; because my father knew the importance of being weird and different, and it’s the best lesson I’ve ever received.

Image via nastygal

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Alexandra West is a freelance genre movie journalist and co-host of the Faculty of Horror podcast (www.facultyofhorror.com). You can follow her at @ScareAlex on Twitter.

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