After news broke that David Bowie died Sunday at the age of 69, fans congregated at his old New York City residence to pay tribute. Mourners added flowers, bottles of beer, and even bell peppers (which he infamously named as a staple of his diet in the mid-’70s) to an ever-growing pile of physical tributes that also includes handwritten letters and candles still remaining aflame even in the city’s windy winter weather.
Memorials for the late musician have been popping up all over the world, from his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, where fans have been placing flowers, to his hometown of Brixton, where one particularly musical crowd gathered together Monday to sing Bowie hits like “Space Oddity” and “Starman.” The New York memorial, however, remained mostly silent: Grievers gathered at a barricade in front of the display to take photos and, in most cases, simply gaze at what others had offered.
“I’m here paying tribute to this amazing, immortal person,” Marla Hernandez, 28, told EW. “I just wanted to be a part of it and see this.”
Below, see photos from the memorial and read what Hernandez and other visitors had to say about Bowie’s impact on their lives.
Marla Hernandez, 28: “I’m here paying tribute to this amazing, immortal person. ‘Rebel Rebel,’ it touched on so many things. It’s about youth and being who you want to be, not being told who you should be. That is something I try to remind myself every day. ‘Dare to be different.’ Hair and all [Gestures at her blue hair].”
Kevin Lincoln, 56: “I saw him live at the Diamond Dogs tour in Los Angeles. That stage set, the props, and how he pulled off that show was just amazing. I was maybe 15, so it was my first concert, I think. My mother took a group of us there. I was so out of my element and overwhelmed with the theatrical performance. The band was razor-sharp. We had listened to that album so much. And he looked so good on that stage.”
Art Terry, 56: “His thing was he was the best producer. You think of [Lou Reed’s] Transformer, you think of [Iggy Pop’s] Lust for Life, he really knew how to make a great record. When I’m in the studio, I often think, ‘What would Bowie do?’ if I’m stuck because he always made a practical decision, and he made great records.
When we were kids, like 17 or 18 years old, we snuck into a striptease bar and there were all of these older women — it was really soft porn, no one was taking much off — but these 35-year-olds were getting on stage — that was old to us in those days — and on the jukebox they have ‘Sweet Thing‘ and someone played it. [Starts singing] ‘Boys, boys, it’s a sweet thing. Oooh, boys, it’s a cheap thing, cheap thing.’ [Stops singing] I knew that he was the man after that. [Laughs]”
Li Reina, 26: “He’s always stayed true to himself, and that’s really touched me. I’m trans and I’m gay and his music really helped me just be who I am the way that he has. Scary Monsters, that’s an album I stumbled upon when I was in college, and it’s just an album that I go to for comfort. College was especially hard for me. I love that album to death.”
Nancy Donato, 57: “He spoke to so many people. I think especially when I was a teenager, I think all those confused teenagers who felt like they were different or they were the only one, he said, ‘It’s okay. It’s okay to be different.’ In his music, he can talk about some of the most profound things, and bring it down to a level, where, okay, I get it. He tapped into what was going on in the environment and brought it to a personal level. I remember explaining ‘Moonage Daydream’ to an older cousin of mine, and we all daydream. But the way he made it sound was that you can have these daydreams, and they can become reality, and not to be afraid, that if you have that totally flipped out daydream, maybe it meant something.”