With face paint and flowers, fans worldwide mourn Bowie

11th January 2016, Comments 0 comments

From his birthplace in London to his final home in New York, David Bowie fans around the world gathered Monday to mourn a star who many said had shaped their lives.

In the gritty south London district of Brixton where Bowie was born in 1947, people laid flowers beneath a giant mural of him, while others gathered in tears outside his building in New York's exclusive Soho neighbourhood.

Berliners left pictures and candles outside the building where Bowie lived during the 1970s as he was trying to kick drink and drug addictions in Cold War-era West Berlin -- one of his most creative periods.

Wherever they were, many spoke of Bowie as an artist who had an extraordinary impact on both their own lives and times.

"I share a birthday with him. He's so young. He was such an amazing person. He means my youth, the challenge to gender stereotypes," said Charlie Rice, a 66-year-old charity worker.

"For gay people, he was a leading light to give us hope."

Bowie announced he was gay in an interview in 1972 but was married twice and remained ambiguous about his sexuality in later life.

Rice was among a steady stream of mourners in Brixton who came to lay flowers and pay tribute by the giant mural of Bowie painted in 2013 by Australian street artist James Cochran, or Jimmy C.

Some came wearing face paint inspired by the cover of Bowie's 1973 album "Aladdin Sane" or had tattoos featuring the singer.

"RIP David, a starman gone to heaven, love his old friend," read one bouquet.

Bowie, who died Sunday aged 69, was born in Brixton and lived there until he was six years old with his waitress mother and his father, who worked for a children's charity.

"I discovered him when I was about 12 or 13 and we all think we're freaks at 12 or 13," said 35-year-old Claire Ronai, describing him as "a great inspiration".

"He helped us through that period. He meant a lot to me."

- 'He would have liked that' -

In New York, Penelope Bagieu, a 33-year-old French cartoonist, cried after leaving a bunch of flowers outside Bowie's former home. "I feel devastated," she said.

Michelle Lynn, who stopped off on her way to work carrying photographs of Bowie in her handbag, said she had been "a fan forever".

"We did feel that on the photos he looked gaunt. We were all concerned but you never think that... you think it will go on forever," she said.

Berlin's Hansa Studios, where Bowie recorded songs including "Heroes", said it would hold a memorial for Bowie Friday, possibly with a public party for city residents featuring live music.

"I think he would have liked that," organiser Thilo Schmied told DPA news agency.

A major exhibition about Bowie in Groningen in the Netherlands reported that its phones had been busy all day with thousands of people trying to buy tickets after hearing the news.

"We expect even more people want to come and pay homage to David Bowie, because if you want to be close to him, you have to be at this exhibition," said Andreas Bluehm, director of the Groninger Museum.

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© 2016 AFP

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