What is the definition of a true fan? Why are some fans seen as more dedicated than others? This is something that I have been pondering for a while. There are clearly different levels of fandom but how do you measure this? Does the size of your collection equate to the size of the fan? Does the amount of times you have seen them live mean you are a bigger fan than those who haven’t? How do you know when you are a die-hard? It’s not an easy thing to measure.
I have been called a Bowie die-hard. This title was bestowed on me by others but why do they think this about me? Well let’s explore some possible reasons and see if I am a true fan.
So, let’s start with the size of your collection. For many years my collection wasn’t much of a collection at all. This wasn’t because I didn’t want to collect all things Bowie, but simply due to a lack of funds. I would say I am still as much a fan as I ever was. Yes, I have a nicely sized collection now but being admin on the Facebook’s ‘David Bowie Collector’s Group’ has shown just how lacking my collection is. There you can see 30+ covers of the same album. I may have 4 or 5 of the same album but I have not collected them for each different country that it was released in. Also, I do not spend money on items that have gone for silly money and for this reason, I currently do not have the RSD Starman picture disc or the yellow vinyl Let’s Dance in my collection. So, if the size of a collection is a measurement of a true fan then I fail. And I do not believe that a lack of funds should equate to a measurement of a true fan. That can be dictated by life and your personal circumstances.
Perhaps you a true fan for the amount of times you have seen them live? I have only seen Bowie live four times. I feel blessed that I saw him those times and of course wish I had seen him more. He did keep touring while I was pregnant (okay so that is two tours) and I didn’t like the Tin Machine years as I felt he was having a mid-life crisis. This is David Bowie; he can’t just become a band member! So, I missed all those. Of course, now this is one of the biggest regrets of my life, but again funds do come into it. Raising a family meant funds were limited and I put my children first. I am so pleased that I went to the Reality tour as this turned out to be the last time he would do a big tour. At the time, I had no idea that this would be the last time I would ever see him again, so I do feel blessed that I went. Despite the restrictions on trains home and the weather (it poured down), I am so glad I went. However, I know people who have seen him more than 100 times. I know people who have met him personally. I know people who have a story to tell about him. It breaks my heart to say I have none of this. Does this mean I am not a true fan?
I rarely wear T-shirts. So how do people know if you are a true fan if you do not wear a Bowie t-shirt? I don’t wear them as I don’t think they flatter me – not because I don’t like them. You may not be able to wear a t-shirt to work either so how can you spot a true fan? Of course, you could suggest a more permanent solution to the t-shirt is the tattoo. It is certainly true that since David’s passing, many hundreds of Bowie fans have had a tattoo to mark their dedication permanently. This does include me as three months after his death I got my first ever tattoo. But I do not think it is fair to say that only fans with tattoos love him and those who don’t have a tattoo are less of a fan. A tattoo is a very permanent personal decision and it could be classed as one measure but certainly not the only thing that would define a die-hard.
So, how do you measure a true fan? It’s not about money and it’s not about the size of your collection. Neither is it about how many times you have seen them live or if you have met them personally.
There are different levels of fandom. That is certain. But the real measurement of that is none of the above. It is about your dedication to them. It’s about what is in your heart. How much you love them.
I do find myself talking Bowie to random shop owners, I find myself mentioning a line from a song if it fits a situation. I talk Bowie all the time to those who listen. I cried and mourned for him as if he was a member of my own family when he passed away. My website is dotted with blogs about my feelings for him. It is for these reasons that I believe my friends call me a die-hard. And although I would never say this about myself, I consider myself honoured to have that title bestowed on me. I am a Bowie die-hard.
I recently posted this in a Facebook group and got so much feedback from the article I thought I would share it some of the comments below:
Mari: Well said. Love this article. So true and thoughtful. Thank you. Xxx
Phil: A true reflection of a Bowie fan. I love him too
Judith: Well-written Jasmine! I hope your career is going from strength to strength.
Alan: Spot on
Jeannie: Love this
Susi: Jasmine, totally agree with everything you say. Happy to say that confirms it…I’m a Die Hard too
Judith: Love this and love him xx
Mayra: You're right, it's the heart that counts
Sue: ‘I find myself mentioning a line from a song if it fits a situation' Also every DB song I hear has a memory and a certain time for me. When we put music on in the house I always say - well, you know what's coming if it is my choice. And they do!
Marie: That was an enjoyable read. I would consider myself a diehard fan of his 1970-1980 period. After that not so much. But my love for what he achieved during that time I would say is pretty intense and I would listen to those albums on a daily basis. I’ve only seen him live once and I only have one T shirt! All I know is I love what I love.
Jane: I have no Bowie collection to speak of. I have all his albums on vinyl or cd but only in so much that I had a copy of them for playing and I have no limited edition stuff. I don’t really have many T-shirts and I only got to see him once. But I spend a lot of time singing and performing his music, learning lyrics, reading about him, and ultimately talking about him to other people who share the love of his music. I think everyone’s definition is different but I think it is up to the individual themselves to define how much they are a fan. Only they know what is in their heart, and it isn’t a contest. If it’s anything it’s a collaborative board game. We all win when we all love and share his music.
Rob: A great post and I agree. Its what's in one's heart that denotes this. I saw him just a mere 15 times, I don't own 300 copies of the same album. I have made lifelong friends and I listen and read about people who Bowie introduced us to. He's in my heart and in my soul. It's that simple x
Julie: Nice article. Bowie has been the backdrop of my life for nearly 50 years. I’ve never seen him live and my album collection is small. I don’t believe that diminishes my love and adoration of him at all. He’s been there through all the highs and lows (see what I did there) of my entire adult life, I can’t imagine spending a day without hearing his voice in some form or another. He’s my comfort zone, my safe space and my joy
Martin: Interesting question and article: thanks! I do not consider that there is any such thing as a “true fan”. Even if there were, I’m fairly sure I wouldn’t want to be it. However: whenever one meets someone else whose favourite rock artist Bowie is, the world seems a kinder, better place: “you’re not alone”. After that, well, if it’s a contest, I’m not playing…
Deborah: Such true words. My collection is minimal. I have only seen him a handful of times although I do wear t-shirts and know nearly every lyric to most of his songs. I held a celebration party of his life when he passed and had time off work to grieve. I class myself a true diehard fan as do my family.x
Scott: Loved your article and I too hold David close to my heart as I’m writing this I’m tearing up. I was devastated when he passed but also proud of how he chose to live his final days. Blackstar helped me get into his head about his illness and state of mind. I’m a musician and Davids music forged a path for the exploration of sound which I’m forever grateful.
Sophia: Jasmine , what a great story! I’m right there with you. I have a good collection of stuff but not many items are signed or registered, they bring joy to me anyway and I was a fan at 13, not knowing people collect things. There was a post a while back, and that guy was so proud of himself, for obtaining a lock of David’s hair. What a creepy guy. First, who would believe or be able to tell it’s David’s hair, (DNA I suppose). That is way too much for me! I’m happy with my David Bowie paper dolls. They are in pristine condition and I cherish them everyday.
Belynda: Absolutely right! I've only recently started wearing concert T shirts, and I have a decent collection but not a huge collection of Bowie music. I'm still missing one that was stolen when my house was broken into. They took the stereo and and my Ziggy album was on the turn table. I still have the empty cover. Unfortunately, I only got to see him 3 times, but I still consider myself a die-hard fan, and so do my friends and family.
Sandy: Well said. I know in my own heart how I feel about Bowie and how he shaped my life. I, too, wrote a couple of blog entries about what he meant to me to release the emotional pressure cooker inside after he passed. I don't feel the need to quantify what I have vs. another's mementoes, explain the urge to get my first tattoo (Bowie-related) 5 months after he passed, nor worry about only having seen him once in person. I walk the earth today because of him and that's reason enough for me to always love him.
Robert: I would hope Bowie fans don’t get judgmental about each other. I know when I discovered Bowie. I hoped that he would stay limited so that knowing about him would be both rare and precious. At the same time, I wanted people. I knew to share in his wonder. But Bowie only belonged to himself and we don’t have the right to assign levels of belonging or “coolness” to others. Thanks for this view, Jasmine.
Maxine: Well said Jasmine. Bowie’s been a huge part of my life since 1973, and in my teens, with a healthy disposable income, I bought every version of every record, and any other merchandise I could get my hands on in Australia. But years passed, and my record collection was stolen and books and posters disappeared, and I could never afford to replace them all. As with your children, other things had to take priority. I only got to see DB twice and I no longer have a “collection” as such, but I don’t feel any less a fan than I did as a red mullet-headed teen without eyebrows! It’s what’s in your heart, as you said.
Diane: If you can write that much about him... I don't think one thing or another makes a *true fan* I don't get it, maybe. Though I noticed since the last time I saw him, up to now, I have become more obsessed. It just happened. I know people who know him, and I think that is great. I think it's best I didn't meet him--liar!-- ok maybe-- I should have.. I am glad I have his music. Nice post. Made me think