Dicky Strickland and Courtney Day of St. John’s with their baby, Bowie (holding a crocheted David Bowie doll), at their home Monday afternoon.
Dicky Strickland’s phone and Facebook page were busy Monday morning, receiving messages of condolence from friends and family for the death of someone Strickland didn’t personally know.
Though he admits it was a little strange, he may argue against the “didn’t personally know” part. David Bowie may not have known Strickland, but Strickland definitely knew Bowie.
Strickland, a local musician, was woken up by text messages from loved ones telling him Bowie had died. The legendary British rock star passed away in New York Sunday, after a short and private fight with cancer. He had turned 69 and released a new album, “Blackstar,” on Friday, just two days before his death.
“At first I thought it was a hoax, some kind of Bowie publicity stunt for the new album, so I went right to the Internet,” Strickland said. “Then I saw it was true. I wasn’t prepared for it or expecting it at all.
“When somebody has had that much of an impact on your life, it is almost like losing someone close to you.”
Strickland — who admits he took Monday off work after hearing the news — first got into Bowie’s music as a teenager in high school, and he remembers picking up a copy of his “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust” album at Music World in the Avalon Mall. A budding songwriter at the time, the CD changed the way Strickland wrote music, as well as his onstage persona: he took to wearing more flamboyant stage outfits, he said, including gold suits and makeup.
Strickland went on to become a member of bands such as Sonny Trip and Long Distance Runners, the latter with three albums and multiple MusicNL and East Coast Music Award nominations to their credit. Strickland recently started a Go Fund Me campaign with the goal of raising the funds needed to produce a solo album.
You might also recognize him from Take Charge NL TV commercials, in which he pops up in a couple’s living room, playing the double bass and singing about ways to conserve energy and save money.
Strickland and his girlfriend, fellow musician Courtney Day, have a four-month-old son together, named — you guessed it — Bowie.
“It was actually Courtney’s idea,” Strickland said of the name, chuckling. “I kind of thought she was joking at first. We just started calling him Bowie while he was in the womb, and it stuck. We love the name.”
Strickland compares Bowie to artists like Elvis or Michael Jackson: extra-talented musicians and performers with personas that can never really be duplicated. Bowie, he notes, influenced not only music, but fashion and pop culture as well.
Strickland never got the chance to see his idol live onstage, but was the organizer behind a couple of Bowie tribute shows that have happened locally over the past few years. He’s considering putting together a pop-up Bowie memorial show over the next couple of weeks.
On Monday, Bowie’s “Blackstar” producer Tony Visconti confirmed the rock star had deliberately created and timed the recording as a parting gift for his fans.
Strickland hopes people will buy it.
“The bittersweet thing about it is he did the album knowing he was dying,” he said. “I’m hoping people will take the time to listen to him.”
To read more about Strickland’s fundraising efforts for his solo album, visit www.gofundme.com/yuhzs6xh .