David Bowie and Me: Sonos Staff Memories
With the passing of David Bowie, many Sonos staffers, from the CMO in Boston to product teams around the globe, share fond memories about the music legend’s impact on their lives. Here are a few…
Cullen Harwood, Regional Sales Manager
Great music, like great art, stands the test of time. While trends evolve, pants get tighter, hairstyle and color(s) vary, music and the legendary artists who create it have the potential to be eternal. For me, David Bowie was the ultimate representation of this.
My youngest brother is 10 years my junior, and I have acted as a father figure to him. Riley is now the quintessential music lover, but when one day years ago he asked me if I had heard of The Rolling Stones, I realized my role as stand-in parent needed to include some major music education too.
When he was 10, I gifted him my CD collection. At 13, I handed down an old iPod. When he turned 16, I gave him a record player.
“Regardless of our different journies to discovering Bowie, the impact was the same: a shared love for an awe-inspiring legend who created a connection between mother, son, and older brother.”
I never really listened to David Bowie growing up. Not that I didn’t like him, but “Space Oddity” was about the extent of my knowledge. I knew he was big, and I knew he was Ziggy Stardust, but that was all. The same was not true for Riley, whose love for Bowie was stoked by our mother.
Something about David Bowie lit a fire in him.
In the fall of 2014, a limited number of venues displayed “David Bowie Is…,” a compilation of his life, art and music. We became first-time members of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago in order to get preview tickets. In the weeks preceding the opening, I noticed my “Top Plays” on Spotify became a Bowie primer. I took note — listening, studying, and discovering an artist that my YOUNGER brother had “discovered.”
Mom, Riley and I piled into the car, waited in line, took the audio tour, viewed live concert footage and saw the costumes. My mother was floored that she remembered her misspent youth watching Bowie perform live on SNL. My brother was floored because of his ability to see many of his idol’s artifacts in the flesh. I was floored by how short Bowie was. As I drove us home from the museum, I was struck by the impact one artist had on three generations. Regardless of our different journies to discovering Bowie, the impact was the same: a shared love for an awe-inspiring legend who created a connection between mother, son, and older brother.
Together Riley and I watched Labryinth and The Man Who Fell to Earth. When I showed Riley a video performance of Beck re-imagining “Sound and Vision,” he insisted that I use it for Playbar demos. If his Jesuit high school didn’t forbid it, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Riley sporting Bowie orange hair right now.
David Bowie sang, “We can be heroes, just for one day.” While he will never know the impact he had on my relationship with my brother, Bowie will be our hero for much longer than one day.
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Mike Demers, Sr. Program Manager, Go to Market
I can’t think of a single person who has had a more profound impact on my father than David Bowie. Having seen him live dozens of times dating back to 1972 at the Music Hall in Boston, Bowie provided the soundtrack to his childhood and helped to shape some of his fondest memories. We lost a legend but the memories are forever and the persona is immortal. RIP David Bowie!
And thanks for this playlist, Dad.
Joni Hoadley, Group Product Manager
I was riding my banana seat bike, with an AM radio dangling from big, shiny handlebars, listening to music. A song came on that stopped me in my tracks: David Bowie’s “Fame.” Although I was only 6 years old, it stirred something deep inside me that inspired a love of music, especially glam rock. I grew up listening to all kinds of music, but I always came back to glam and Bowie.
“Although I was only 6 years old, it stirred something deep inside me that inspired a love of music, especially glam rock.”
One of the fun things I get to do at my job at Sonos is pick code names for our software releases. Back in 2011 when we decided to create the Sonos Controller for iPad, the code name we chose was named after the man himself, Bowie. Following that release, we immediately started working on the Sonos Controller for Android. Given the cosmic nature of the name Android, we chose the code name Ziggy, after his alter-ego Ziggy Stardust.
Today, we have filled our office with the many sounds and moods of David Bowie, and are listening with he love and admiration we have for him.
Shiloh Jones, Voice and Data Engineer
— Sonos (@Sonos) January 11, 2016
I read the news last night while laying in bed and gasped. I hoped it was a hoax — a bad report maybe — but once confirmed I felt a deep loss, akin to losing a lifelong friend.
How can I feel so attached to a man I never met? A complete stranger, someone I never knew. But the connection is there, and so is the sorrow caused by the great void his death has left. Then it struck me: David Bowie was no stranger. He exposed his soul in every song, so we have gotten to know him and watch him evolve over the years and albums. He was also a part of my life — road trips with his music on the radio, singing along to every word of Ziggy Stardust in the shower, throwing back a few beers at a dive bar and belting out my best rendition of “Under Pressure” with a friend, and listening to Space Oddity in my bedroom feeling cold like Major Tom. Where his music was, Bowie was there.
I read somewhere to stay positive because the universe fills the voids that others leave behind, yet I am having a hard time believing anyone can fill this one. We felt every note you expressed. You floated away Mr. Bowie, and we are all feeling blue.
And there’s nothing I can do.
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Eric Karsenty, Partnership Marketing, EMEA
The first Bowie track I ever heard was Alladin Sane. The piano is aggressive, dissonant, and just before you can’t take any more of it, it magically blends back into the rest of the track. This idea of juxtaposing tough and gentle, as well as creating beauty in chaos, has always been at the center of my own musical approach.
BMB … Bjork, Miles and Bowie, were my holy trinity when I was a teenager. As a young musician, I always thought of them and told myself that imagination is the only limitation. Always exploring without fear and reinventing yourself by collaborating with others.
“BMB … Bjork, Miles and Bowie, were my holy trinity when I was a teenager.”
Bowie also taught me that I could be multiple, while remaining true to myself, which is an essential message when you’re a teenager.
I found in Bowie’s music that groove that I could only hear in a handful of other rock musicians of his generation. (Dropping Let’s Dance in between Earth Wind and Fire and George Duke in a DJ set works like a treat!) I was impressed by his ability to always be present without forcing us to listen to him, to watch him. He was delicate.
His last album has now gotten a lot deeper. “Look up here, I’m in heaven,” he sings on the beautiful Lazarus.
Thank you for the music, R.I.P.
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