On Monday morning, the world found out that David Bowie was dead.
Reading the news, I foolishly hoped his death was metaphorical; that David had killed off his "Bowie" persona to make way for an exciting new one, just as he'd done with Ziggy Stardust in 1973.
Unfortunately, the headlines were accurate. Just days after the release of his new album, Bowie is no longer with us. Gone at 69 years old after an 18-month battle with cancer.
The sheer number of tributes that have poured in following the news - from fans, friends, collaborators and commentators - is testament to Bowie's enduring influence, not just on rock, but on popular culture more generally. He was a cultural force and a relentless innovator.
Many have written eloquently on Bowie's myriad achievements, from Major Tom to Ziggy Stardust and The Thin White Duke and beyond. They've talked about how he continually redefined what it meant to be a pop musician in the twentieth century and created some of the best works of the era in the process.
I could write volumes about Bowie's cultural importance, but what I would say has already been said, probably more eloquently than I could put it.
So instead, my tribute to Bowie is a personal one.
I vividly remember the day my mum gave me her "Aladdin Sane" album. It was a landmark moment in my musical education that opened the door, not just to Bowie's immensely rewarding back catalog, but to Lou and the Velvets, to Iggy and the Stooges and to a different way of thinking about rock 'n' roll.
I wasn't just struck by the music, but by the man staring out at me from the cover. Bowie didn't look like a rock star. He looked like someone from another world. He sang about being from another world as well. Here was someone who knew what it meant to be weird, to literally feel like he was from a different planet. And instead of hiding that, he embraced it, fearlessly putting it in front of us. He took that weirdness and made it cool.
To a sometimes-awkward 13-year-old trying to find his place in the world, that idea was incredibly empowering. I still find it empowering as a 26 year-old man.
R.I.P. David. You were an inspiration to us all.
By Alec Plowman