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Music

How David Bowie comforted Chris Cornell in a time of need

The stories about David Bowie being a true gent are in abundance. Everyone from Tina Turner to Nile Rodgers and even Brian Molko have all regaled us with stories of the Brixton native, coloured by his brilliant idiosyncrasies and humble nature. 

While Bowie’s slate is not completely clean, owing to some rather flubbed comments in the 1970s about Nazism and other weird accounts, one thing is clear: Bowie was a shining light after he cleaned up. He set a fine example for many budding musicians who wanted to emulate the celestial quality of ‘The Starman’.

If you watch any interview with Bowie or read any piece of discourse, it comes across that most of the time, he was a very welcoming fellow, ready to talk about anything and everything with anyone. It was this personable nature that endeared him to fans and his peers. This only made the news of his passing in January 2016 even harder to bear. The world lost one of its brightest lights in a year that was notable for just how rotten it was.

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One of his biggest fans, who also happened to be an icon in his own right, was the late Chris Cornell of Soundgarden. Cornell idolised Bowie from the moment he first set eyes upon the character of Ziggy Stardust in the ’70s, and the rest was history. A few days after Bowie’s death, Cornell penned a lengthy tribute to his idol in Rolling Stone, and revealed an anecdote where Bowie showed him his real star quality, his benevolence.

Cornell recalled: “Later in my life, I was part of a Vanity Fair music issue, where there were a lot of pretty amazing people there for a photoshoot. He was one of them. That was the first time I met him. I’d almost rather not meet someone I’m a fan of because I’m afraid that they’re gonna say or do something that’s going to then change how I feel when I listen to their music. But he was an incredible guy, super inclusive and warm. I’m always uncomfortable in most situations, and he made everybody comfortable. He was this bright light.”

The ‘Black Hole Sun’ mastermind continued: “Our conversation was very much, ‘How are you doing?’ and ‘Isn’t this fun? Isn’t it exciting to be in the same room with Stevie Wonder and Joni Mitchell at the same time?’ It was just normal conversations. It’s like he saw I was uncomfortable and went out of his way to alleviate that discomfort and make me feel happy about it. It was a compassionate moment for a guy that didn’t necessarily have to be that way. Despite my worries, I walked out more excited to listen to his music.”

An incredible tale featuring two of the all-time greats, stories like this make us yearn for Bowie even more than we already do. He was an unwavering force for good in the world and given just how bleak the future looks, one last slice of his wisdom would go down a treat.

Watch David Bowie in conversation with Jeremy Paxman below.