Decades worth of collecting vinyl. Photo by Aimsel Pont

This year, David Bowie’s birthday will be celebrated with a huge, all-star tribute concert streaming around the world on Saturday, when he would have turned 75, and I can’t wait.

The show, called A Bowie Celebration, features a core band of several of his former bandmates including keyboardist Mike Garson, guitarists Earl Slick and Charlie Sexton, bassist Carmine Rojas, drummer Omar Hakim and saxophonist Stan Harrison. Guest performers include Def Leppard, John Taylor and Simon Le Bon from Duran Duran, Living Colour, Rob Thomas from Matchbox Twenty, actor Gary Oldman, Walk the Moon, Bowie’s longtime bassist Gail Ann Dorsey, Rolling Stones backing vocalist Bernard Fowler, singer Judith Hill and bassist/singer Joe Sumner (son of Sting). Comic and actor Ricky Gervais will also be there. We can expect to hear Bowie songs that span his entire career.

A collection that has grown since the 80s. Photo by Aimsel Ponti

A Bowie Celebration will be dedicated to photographer Mick Rock who passed away in November and who shot some of the most iconic Bowie photographs out there. The 35th anniversary of the Bowie-starring film “Labyrinth” will also be honored. One of the things I’m most looking forward to is the never-before-seen Bowie footage that will be part of the evening’s program. A portion of proceeds from the show will benefit the nonprofit Save the Children.

David Bowie died from liver cancer on Jan. 10, 2016, just two days after releasing the masterpiece album “Blackstar.” A fan since the age of 8, I fell apart that morning and have never really recovered, such is the love I have for my all-time favorite musician. For me, there’s never been anyone quite like him in terms of chameleon-like creativity, and I consider myself lucky to have been able to see him perform live on three occasions.

Aimsel Ponti at the Bowie 75 pop-up on Wooster Street in New York City wearing a David Bowie cap, T-shirt and face mask, November 2021. Photo courtesy of Aimsel Ponti

My favorite album is “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” which I’m listening to as I write this. “Hunky Dory” is a close second because of songs like “Oh! You Pretty Things,” “Life on Mars?” and especially “Quicksand.” During a trip to London a decade or so ago, I stood on the steps and in the phone booth where the photographs on the front and back covers of the “Ziggy” album were shot, because of course I did.

This past September, while in Manhattan, I held my palm against the building Bowie lived in for many years, and during a return visit to the city in November, I got to visit an incredible, interactive pop-up exhibit in SoHo called “Bowie 75” where they had a replica Ziggy phone booth and set from his “DJ” video. “Bowie 75” is in London and New York City through the end of the month and details can be found at bowie75.com. If you’re a Bowie fan with access to either city, you don’t want to miss it.

Five years later, I’m still grappling with the fact that Bowie isn’t alive. I don’t think I realized what comfort I took just knowing he was co-existing on the planet. But I am thankful for all the music he left behind because my passion for it at such an early age paved the way for music to become such an essential part of my life. Everything reminds me of a song, and I love that. And few things make me happier than seeing an artist I love perform live. I have Bowie to thank for that.

I reached out to fellow Bowie fanatic Bethany Round in Westbrook who shared that when she was 10 years old, Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” album was released, and she wore out her cassette of it.  She sums up Bowie’s significance in her life this way: “His death, and the ‘Black Star’ album drew a line under my love of music in general. His work is a lens I gaze through to understand creativity and authenticity.”

I also popped down to my “home” Bull Moose store, in South Portland’s Mill Creek, where I eyed the almost too heavy to lift $400 vinyl box set and perused the many picture discs and other Bowie vinyl they have in stock. Store manager Max Hansen said they consistently sell his music on vinyl and CD formats with the former being the main version fans buy. It came as no surprise to me that, even five years after his passing, David Bowie is still a superstar.

It will be a bittersweet experience watching A Bowie Celebration, but I also can’t wait to freak out in a Bowie-induced moon-age daydream, oh yeah!

A Bowie Celebration
6 p.m. Saturday. Can be streamed on-demand for 24 hours, $25. rollinglivestudios.com/collections/bowie


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