Fans around the world are mourning the loss of music icon David Bowie this week, and B.C. heavy metal guitarist and singer-songwriter Devin Townsend is certainly among them.

While Townsend doesn't consider Bowie a direct influence on his music, he said he does feel influenced by his imagination, creativity and desire to explore — all qualities that have helped him as as an internationally successful musician who, like Bowie, is known for creating a few colourful stage personas himself.

Bowie is being remembered a lot as a "re-inventor" or a "chameleon" who changed his sound and look to fit with whatever he wanted to pursue at the time.

Townsend has also spanned a few musical genres in his career, and said he thinks he can relate to what Bowie was trying to accomplish.

Devin Townsend

Devin Townsend (centre) says he was influenced by David Bowie's ability to change personas over the course of his career. (Devin Townsend)

"I think if you're in it for a monetary gain exclusively, it would be very difficult to switch gears," he said. "But I think if the reason you're doing it is to follow creative compulsions that mirror your life as you grow and change, then it's much more difficult to stay in that one place."

"In popular culture and popular music the idea of 'following the muse' … is strangely discouraged. But when you think about the true nature of art in general, to not do that seems to be absurd," he told On The Coast host Stephen Quinn.

The way Bowie pursued his passion over the length of his career was inspiring, said Townsend.

"When you see someone like him who's spent his entire career spanning upwards of six decades, not only following it where it leads but also making distinct versions of each incarnations of that … that process is incredibly inspiring."

Townsend said Bowie represented an "ideal" artist, who was not only at the peak of popularity but also followed his own vision and took risks doing it — and not all of those risks paid off.

"Learning how to fail, and learning how to fail efficiently and get back up I think allows you to fine-tune your process and the visions that come along with that process in a way that without it, there'd be no sense of resilience in the music," he said.

"And I've always heard it in his. I've always heard it in his music."


To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: For B.C. heavy metal musician, David Bowie was an inspiration