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David Bowie passes away aged 69: A brief history between the rock legend and Disney

in Entertainment, Movies, Music

Photo by Richard Young
David Bowie at the Cannes Film Festival 1983

Photo by Richard Young David Bowie at the Cannes Film Festival 1983

One of the premier rock musicians of 1970 and 1980s, David Bowie, born David Jones has passed away following his 18 month long fight with cancer. The icon transcended his medium, and not only appeared in movies and television, but was an iconoclast in his own right. His persona of Ziggy Stardust remains one of the most recognizable alter egos in pop culture history. He helped define Glam Rock, and became an influence for generations to come.

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Bowie received his first commercial and critical acclaim in the late 1960s when “Space Oddity” became his first top 5 song. However, it was the release of “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders of Mars” that began to form his status as an icon. He collaborated with many of the best artists in history, including Queen, Mick Jagger, Arcade Fire, Bing Crosby, and Tina Turner.

His career rarely intersected with Disney with the exception of several occasions. The most recent was the use of his song “Moonage Daydream” in the Marvel film “Guardians of the Galaxy.” The song is played when the group first arrives at the strange location known as “Knowhere,” where they meet the Collector.

Michel Sheen Tron

Perhaps the most overt reference to Bowie in a Disney film was Michael Sheen’s character in “Tron: Legacy.” Just like Bowie, the character Castor uses an alter ego, Zuse, to remain a mysterious individual to the characters who come looking for him. Michael Sheen has openly admitted that his character was heavily influenced by Bowie’s Stardust character, as well as other Glam Rock figures.

Labyrinth

While his film career was rather limited, two of his roles were tied to Disney. As an actor, he is best known for his role as the Goblin King in the cult classic “Labyrinth.” The film was produced by Lucasfilm and directed by Jim Henson, technically meaning it is now owned by Disney (though much after the fact). The film was initially seen as a failure, but became a classic in the years since its release.

David Bowie Tesla

Bowie also starred in “The Prestige,” a Christopher Nolan thriller about two magicians pitted against each other. While the film was produced by Warner Brothers, it was distributed by Buena Vista Pictures and even premiered at the El Capitan theater. In the film, Bowie plays the eccentric but isolated genius Nikola Tesla.

Really, the lack of Disney credits on Bowie’s resume is surprising to say the least. Bowie may have been controversial in the 1970s, but he was also the kind of genius that Disney has often tried to work with. There is little doubt that effort was made by both sides over the years, but it really feels like something amazing could have come from a partnership between the two sides. This may be one of the greatest “What Ifs” in Disney history, and for any fan of his music and work. David Bowie was iconic for a reason, and his talent was undeniable.

Bowie is survived by his his wife, the model Iman, his son, director Duncan Jones (“Warcraft”) and daughter Alexandria. He was 69 years old when he passed.

2 Comments

  1. FigmentJedi

    Disney doesn’t own Labyrinth. They only bought the Muppets and Bear in the Big Blue House from the Jim Henson Company, not the whole thing. And even though it was a co-production with Lucasfilm, Henson kept the property.

  2. ObservantReader

    Disney does not own everything by Jim Henson. They only purchased the rights to Muppets and Bear in the Big Blue House. The Labyrinth film is still in the ownership of The Jim Henson Company.

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