Ebert: ‘Before I had a voice, I used David’s’

January 11, 2016

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros frontman Alex Ebert issued the following statement on Facebook following the death Monday of music icon David Bowie:

Artists get inspired and influenced by other artists. But artists like to conceal that fact, rarely copping to emulation.

Unless you’re emulating David Bowie.

Copping Bowie could, somehow, never be embarrassing – like people finding out you’re trying to climb Everest. Like an opera singer going for Caruso. Even if you fail, it is a noble attempt. Every “new wave” band you’ve heard of is or was copping Bowie’s vocals. Ive never heard one that wasn’t. Bowie’s nasal vocals were a proto punkality. His delivery was intrinsically confrontational – the confrontation of oddity, the rebellion of flaunting it. Male singers had achieved sexual power via the masculine (depth of tone, screaming) but Bowie introduced male sexual potency via the feminine – the proto Prince, the proto Michael Jackson.

If you ever listened to any of my first band, Ima Robot, David Bowie’s sway over me was so blatant as to make me a proud thief… And I was. I’ve never enjoyed any comparison as I have at “that reminds me of Bowie.” My motherfucker. Thanks.

It wasn’t so much the musical stylings of Bowie – most of which he himself copped outright – but his delivery of them that will forever run loose within our ears.

Before I had a voice, I used David’s.

So much appreciation for it.


(Bowie died peacefully on Jan. 10, 2016, surrounded by his family after a courageous 18 month battle with cancer. In 2010, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros covered David Bowie’s Memory of a Free Festival, released via Manimal Vinyl.)

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