A mural of Bowie in Brixton became a natural rallying point for fans, some of them in tears, to lay flowers while others sang “Rebel Rebel” and “Starman”.
Bowie, who died of cancer aged 69, was a pioneering chameleon of performance imagery, straddling the worlds of hedonistic rock, fashion, art and drama for five decades, pushing the boundaries of music and his own sanity to produce some of the most innovative songs of his generation.
Victoria Gafoor, a 22-year old teaching assistant who has Bowie’s iconic lightning strike tattooed on her wrist, said she had been hysterical when she heard that Bowie was dead.
She first encountered him in the movie The Labyrinth when she was five: “Since then, I’ve just been obsessed.”
“He never stopped pushing the boundaries: he was absolutely fearless,” she said. “He just did what he wanted to do, and that’s what inspired so many people to just be themselves. Gay, straight, weird – whatever is your thing, he fully embraced it.”
Tributes poured in from titans of popular music, including the Rolling Stones, Madonna and Kanye West, and even British Prime Minister David Cameron and the Vatican.
Across London, notice boards mourned Bowie’s death with some of his best quotes. In the metro, one board read: “I don’t know where I’m going from here but I promise it won’t be boring”, while the BT Tower flashed “David Bowie Rest In Peace”.
Outside a cinema in Brixton where “David Bowie, Our Brixton Boy RIP” had replaced the name of the movie that was showing, fans sang his 1972 hit “Starman”: “There’s a starman waiting in the sky. He’d like to come and meet us. But he thinks he’d blow our minds.”
Will Maloney, a 40-year old technical support manager, was toasting Bowie with a plastic glass of red wine.
“I am a huge David Bowie fan, not just for his music but for his pioneering spirit,” he said. “I was just on my way home and I thought it was a lovely way of saying ‘Thank you, David’.”