First it was Queen, then it was Elton John. How do you top those two giants of the music industry? Easy. David Bowie. When the Royal Mint kicked off its ‘Music Legends’ series last year with a new Queen issue, we thought it would start with the most iconic in the catalogue of British performers that its collaboration with music management company Bravado and Universal Music Group could bring. We didn’t quite get just how many absolute giants of the industry there are to choose from.
They don’t get much bigger than David Robert Jones – David Bowie. Born on 08 January 1947, Bowie quickly started the way he carried on his whole career – innovation, followed by reinvention. Never standing still for long, the South London-born Bowie started in 1962 with pop and folk, moving through countless different styles, many quite unique, over the following 50+ years. Now hailed as one of the all-time greats, his catalogue of albums, and his influence on popular culture, has few equals. He died in 2016 from liver cancer at the age of 69, just two days after the debut, on his birthday, of the album Blackstar. Such was the mans stature, that on 15 January, in the first music charts published after his death, ,not only did Blackstar debut at No.1, but 19 of his albums populated the UK Top 100 Album Chart, along with 13 songs in the Top 100 Singles Chart.
The coin is an outstanding tribute. The Queen coin was good, if a little impersonal, but this series really hit its stride with the excellent Elton John issue, which managed to catch the essence of the man perfectly, using a very stylistic approach. This one takes some of that DNA for the background, but shows Bowie in his prime using a natural, realistic look. Depicting highly recognisable characters on the small and difficult canvas of a coin is fraught with the possibility of failure. No signs of that here, and the depiction by the very talented Jody Clark is quite sublime. The use of colour on the 1 oz proof coin is, like the Elton John coin, spot on, and this version also comes with an edge inscription, ‘THE STARS ARE NEVER FAR AWAY. Versions of 2 oz and above, also have a ‘stardust’ feature on the lightning bolt, which you can’t really see in the images and are struck to a higher relief.