Canadians pay tribute to David Bowie

TORONTO -- David Bowie was a musical explorer, a trailblazer for the fashion industry and a symbol to the LGBT community, say some of the Canadian artists who count him as an inspiration.

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While fans and friends paid tribute on Monday to Bowie, who died of cancer at 69 a day earlier, some paused to remember the legacy and influential catalogue of music, videos and clothing styles the singer leaves behind.

"It's one thing to have ideas, but it's another thing to have the courage to voice them," said Edouard Lock, the founder of La La La Human Steps, a Montreal-based dance group that toured with the singer more than 25 years ago.

"He was very aware of where society was going and how he wanted to interact with it."

Other Canadian performers including the Weeknd, Seth Rogen, Will Arnett, Tegan and Sara and former astronaut Chris Hadfield praised Bowie on social media, with some quoting his lyrics and referencing two of his iconic characters of the 1970s, Ziggy Stardust and Thin White Duke.

Fashion journalist and TV host Jeanne Beker encountered Bowie several times and interviewed him for both "The New Music" and "Fashion Television." She said Bowie was one of the first to elevate TV visuals to a higher level of theatricality through his music videos.

"As great as a musician as David Bowie was, I think he was a performance artist," she said.

"He understood way ahead of his time the importance of imagery and how that importance would escalate."

Lock had a unique relationship with Bowie, who eagerly pursued a collaboration with his dance company for years before it finally came to fruition.

La La La Human Steps was initially selected by the singer to perform as part of his 1987 "Glass Spider" tour, but scheduling conflicts with the dance group sidelined their involvement. Bowie circled back a few years later for his "Sound+Vision Tour" in 1990, sparking a collaboration that Lock fondly remembers.

"The way to his heart is through an idea," said Lock, who served as artistic director for the tour.

"If he thinks it's going to bring him into new territories ... he just goes for it."

Throughout his career, Bowie built his persona as someone unafraid to push the boundaries of gender, sexuality and fashion. He helped open the door for many of the pop stars who would follow, including Freddie Mercury of Queen, Madonna and Lady Gaga.

Documentary director Malcolm Ingram credits Bowie's presence in the mainstream as one of the reasons he came out.

"David Bowie is a beacon to all the rebels, freaks and misfits," said the Toronto-based director of the doc "Small Town Gay Bar."

"One time he was gay, then he was bi and then he was hetro -- it didn't matter. He was loved by everybody and you felt he loved us."

Singer-songwriter Kreviazuk posted a photo of Bowie on Instagram and wrote she felt the "tragic and permanent impact of death" when she heard the news.

Other fans quoted favourite song lyrics, including Toronto-born comedian and actor Arnett, who picked Bowie's 1971 track "Quicksand."

"You were my all time," Arnett wrote of Bowie on Twitter. "You were the greatest. We'll miss you more than you'll ever know."

You were my all time. You were the greatest. We'll miss you more than you'll ever know. #DavidBowie We're all Aladdin Sane

— Will Arnett™ (@arnettwill) January 11, 2016

The Sam Roberts Band tweeted of an "un-payable debt" to Bowie. "He taught us to never let the dust settle, to always push further into the unknown. RIP."

We owe an un-payable debt to David Bowie.He taught us to never let the dust settle, to always push further into the unknown. RIP

— Sam Roberts Band (@samrobertsband) January 11, 2016

A more straightforward tribute came from singer the Weeknd, who tweeted a simple "Rest in peace" message.

rest in peace Ziggy

— The Weeknd (@theweeknd) January 11, 2016

Hadfield, who became a viral sensation in 2013 for his acoustic rendition of Bowie's "Space Oddity," tapped into the star's intergalactic persona.

He wrote on Twitter: "Your brilliance inspired us all. Goodbye Starman."

Ashes to ashes, dust to stardust. Your brilliance inspired us all. Goodbye Starman.

— Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) January 11, 2016

With files from Lauren La Rose.


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