Why Do People Wait? David Bowie Moving Towards First Number 1 Album in the U.S.

Why is it that great artists have to die to get the public's attention?

It happens almost every time a major artist passes going back to the late-70's when Elvis died. His albums returned to the charts in droves. The pattern has been repeated numerous times over the almost forty years since with one of the biggest examples being Michael Jackson's resurgence after his passing.

Now, it appears to be happening with David Bowie. The enigmatic artist died yesterday after a previously undisclosed eighteen-month battle with cancer and, as of Monday afternoon, his albums have surged up the charts on both Amazon and iTunes.

Currently, Bowie has fourteen of the top twenty albums by veteran artists on Amazon.com (you can follow the charts with daily updates in our right column):
  1. Blackstar - David Bowie
  2. Best of Bowie - David Bowie
  3. Nothing Has Changed (3-CDs) - David Bowie
  4. The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars - David Bowie
  5. The Next Day (Deluxe Edition) - David Bowie
  6. Nothing Has Changed (2 CDs) - David Bowie
  7. Five Years 1969-1973 (12-CD Boxed Set) - David Bowie
  8. The Next Day Extra (2 CD / 1 DVD) - David Bowie
  9. We Prick You: Radio Broadcast - Nine Inch Nails (out 2/12)
  10. Heroes - David Bowie
  11. Cinema - Andrea Bocelli
  12. If I Can Dream - Elvis Presley
  13. Labyrinth: From The Original Soundtrack Of The Jim Henson Film - David Bowie
  14. Diamond Dogs [ECD] - David Bowie
  15. Tapestry - Carole King
  16. Kind of Blue (LP) - Miles Davis
  17. Five Years 1969-1973 (13-LP Boxed Set) - David Bowie
  18. Aladdin Sane - David Bowie
  19. Dystopia - Megedeth (out 1/22)
  20. Low - David Bowie
Even more significant is that Bowie's latest, Blackstar, which was only released this past Friday, is set to unseat Adele at the top of both the U.K and U.S. charts.

If he makes it in the U.K., it would be his tenth chart topping album:
  • Aladdin Sane (1973)
  • Pin Ups (1973)
  • Diamond Dogs (1974)
  • Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) (1980)
  • Let's Dance (1983)
  • Tonight (1984)
  • Changesbowie (1990)
  • Black Tie White Noise (1993)
  • The Next Day (2013)
In the United States, it would be even more significant as Bowie never had a number 1 album. His top performing albums on the charts in the U.S.:
  • The Next Day (2013 / #2)
  • Station to Station (1976 / #3)
  • Let's Dance (1983 / #4)
  • Diamond Dogs (1974 / #5)
  • David Live (1974 / #8)
  • Young Americans (1975 / #9)
  • Changesonebowie (1976 / #10)
  • Low (1977 / #11)
  • Tonight (1984 / #11)
  • Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) (1980 / #12)
  • Heathen (2002 / #14)
Final British charts will be out on Friday while the U.S. will be issued next Tuesday. 


Anonymous said...

David Bowie deserve the number 1. Don't forget that Blackstar was an instant hit, before David's dead.

Joe said...

It's a very strange pattern, repeated again and again. In 1999, I was working part time in a record store in Hollywood, when Dusty Springfield died. There was a well stocked selection of her albums on CD, both domestic as well as imports, sitting there day after day, selling once in a while. Then she died. That evening, before closing time, I told one of my co-workers, "Guaranteed tomorrow, Dusty Springfield's section will be sold out, now that she's gone." Sure enough, every CD by Dusty Springfield was sold. When new stock was put in to replenish the section, all that was sold, too.
This bothered me. I was buying her music since the 1960's, and continued purchasing her recordings right into the 1990's. Suddenly, people couldn't buy enough of her music.
I bought David Bowie's Hunky Dory album when it was first released, in late 1971. I had just turned 17. After that, I followed his career steadily through the decades. When I heard the news of his death, it affected me the same way I felt, when Dusty Springfield died. Someone created music and for so many years, they were part of my life. Ruefully, I told a friend of mine, "Bowie is going to sell like crazy, tomorrow."
Why can't we love and respect a recording artist while they're alive, and buy their music when it's created? Why do the multitudes wait until someone is dead? I'll never understand.

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