David Bowie died of cancer in his Manhattan home Sunday, and since the news broke, people around the globe have paid him the most beautiful tributes on social media. One of the most touching tributes so far is Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield's rendition of "Space Oddity," the track that put David Bowie on the map in 1969. Bowie wrote the unique song after watching 2001: A Space Odyssey, according to Tech Insider, and the lyrics detail the story of an astronaut who loses touch with Ground Control and gets lost in space. It was also the world's first peek at a Bowie who was mesmerized by space.
So it's only fitting that Commander Chris Hadfield, the astronaut who stole the world's hearts during his time at the International Space Station, covered "Space Oddity" in space in 2013. Bowie himself called it "possibly the most poignant version of the song ever created" when he posted Hadfield's cover on his Facebook page. After hearing of Bowie's passing last week, Hadfield took to Twitter to pay homage to the artist, tweeting, "Ashes to ashes, dust to stardust. Your brilliance inspired us all. Goodbye Starman."
I can't help but think that with Bowie's space obsession — with songs titled "Life on Mars?" "Starman," and "Dancing Out in Space," among others — he would have thought Hadfield's send-off was perfect.
Other celebrities and fans pitched in with their best Bowie tributes. What struck me most was the breadth of the tributes that poured in. Bowie inspired not only fans and other artists — he touched several generations, and affected everyone from astronauts to authors. See some of the best below:
Conan Paid Tribute To Bowie's Funniest Moments
On Monday, Late Night host Conan O'Brien paid Bowie a different kind of tribute. As it turns out, Bowie visited O'Brien's show several times over the years, and the British rocker was not only a fantastic singer, but he was quite funny as well.
"People are remembering today what a phenomenal musician David Bowie was, and of course, that was the case," O'Brien said on his Monday show. "He was mind-blowingly talented, but in my experience, he was always an incredibly nice person, he was fun, he was always funny."
J.K. Rowling Quoted From His New Album
Fellow Brit and Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling shared her condolences on Monday, sharing a screen capture of the lyrics from his new song, "Lazarus" — which producer Tony Visconti said was a goodbye gift to fans from Bowie.
"His death was no different from his life — a work of art," said Visconti, according to Billboard. "He made Blackstar for us, his parting gift. I knew for a year this was the way it would be. I wasn't, however, prepared for it."
Madonna Detailed His Influence On Her Career
If any two stars mastered the art of transformation and re-creating themselves, it was Bowie and Madonna. In a simple and poignant Facebook post Monday, Madonna gave him a hat tip for playing a vital role in her life.
She mentioned that she felt like an oddball growing up in Michigan, but the way Bowie played with "gender confusion" was inspiring. "I saw how he created a persona and used different art forms within the arena of rock and roll to create entertainment," Madonna wrote. She herself has become a master of personas, and remained relevant throughout decades. "Thank you David Bowie. I owe you a lot."
A Church in the Netherlands Rang Out "Space Oddity"
Dom Tower, a 634-year-old church tower in the Netherlands, played a rendition of "Space Oddity" using its church bells. It's probably the most haunting of the tributes I've seen so far — it reaches an entire town and, as a church, kind of speaks to Bowie's music transcending any beliefs or boundaries. (Let's not forget that Bowie was pretty gender-flexible and kind of into drugs.)
EL VY & Stay Human Played "Let's Dance" On 'The Late Show' With Stephen Colbert
Before Stephen Colbert wrapped up The Late Night Show with Stephen Colbert on Monday night, he introduced EL VY and Stay Human, who went on to play a beautiful version of "Let's Dance," a tribute to Bowie's Thin White Duke years.
An Organist At Kelvingrove Museum Played "Life on Mars?"
Organist Chris Nickel went viral after playing a beautiful cover of "Life on Mars?" at the Kelvingrove Museum on Monday. He told the BBC that the attention has been overwhelming, and in an interview with the network, placed heavy credit on Bowie's masterpiece. "I was told afterwards by the Kelvingrove staff that people had reacted emotionally, which is very gratifying — a tribute to Bowie's wonderful songwriting," he said. "It's a great, great song, one of many."
Red Hot Chili Peppers Bassist Revealed A Bowie Tattoo
The Red Hot Chilli Pepper's bassist, Flea, unveiled a tattoo of Bowie's last name with the singer's trademark thunderbolt. He also quoted a line from Bowie's "Changes" below, writing: "And these children that you spit on as they try to change their worlds."
Burberry Gave Their Models Glittery Tears
On Monday, Burberry gave a subtle nod to Bowie's legacy by adding small bursts of glitter near the eyes of Burberry's male models hitting the catwalk. “I was just going to put it on one male model and then suddenly they all wanted it," creative director Christopher Bailey told The Telegraph.
Brixton, Bowie's Birthplace, Threw A Street Party
Bowie was an artist who celebrated life, so it's only fitting that Bowie's hometown, Brixton, threw an impromptu street party on Monday in his honor. It was organized on Facebook by fans, and a PA system on the street played his songs all night long. Some showed up in lightning bolt makeup or wacky outfits.
What a great goodbye from where it all began.