Bowie Street sign ch-ch-changed to honor David Bowie in Downtown Austin

Update, 2:30 p.m.: There’s now a change.org petition to make the name change from Bowie Street to David Bowie Street permanent. From the petition:

“I believe that, in the same vein of Willie Nelson Boulevard, Austin should rename Bowie Street to honor one of the most influential musicians of the last century.”

As previously reported, it’s safe to assume that the street’s proper name comes from Texas icon James Bowie (though the Austin History Center says that there’s no immediately available record confirming this is the case). Since news of the new sign first fell to Earth, many on social media have denounced the tribute to the “Starman” singer, saying it’s disrespectful to original Bowie.

Earlier: This might be our favorite Ziggy Stardust tribute yet. The name on the Bowie Street sign near Fifth Street has been altered to honor late British rock star David Bowie.

(Ricardo B. Brazziell/American-Statesman)
(Ricardo B. Brazziell photos/American-Statesman)

The sign is located near South By Southwest’s offices in Downtown Austin. No word yet on who’s responsible for this street oddity.

Although city officials have confirmed that the sign was not officially sanctioned, they released a statement assuring fans that it could stay up until next week:

“The Austin Transportation Department has been notified that someone got creative with the street sign at Bowie and 5th Streets, changing the sign to read “David Bowie” in memory of the musician and pop-culture icon. We appreciate Austin’s reputation as the Live Music Capital of the World and recognize David Bowie for all he did for the music industry and more. To this end, we will leave the sign up until Tuesday, January 19, so our community can enjoy the makeshift memorial a few days longer. At that time we will have to replace it with the real street name sign.”

However, Austin police officer Chris Irwin said whoever was responsible could be charged with theft and criminal mischief. Both are misdemeanors. The level of charge depends on how much manpower would be involved with switching the sign back, as well as the cost, Irwin said.

Officials from SXSW claim no responsibility for the sign change.  “It’s just a coincidence it’s across the street from our office at 400 (David) Bowie St.,” festival founder Roland Swenson said Wednesday morning.

_BB_5948

As for the street’s proper name, it’s safe to assume Bowie Street was named for James Bowie, the 19th Century Kentucky-born pioneer  who played a prominent role in the Texas Revolution and died at the Battle of the Alamo. But an initial search of Austin History Center records turned up records only dating back to 1905, none of which explicitly mention for whom the street is named, community archivist Amanda Jasso said.

Bowie died Sunday at 69 just days after the release of his latest album, “Blackstar.” Among the likely more legal tributes in Austin: Alamo Drafthouse quickly organized a series of singalongs Monday night that inspired a larger tribute planned for Saturday.

(AP Photo/Bob Child, File)
(AP Photo/Bob Child, File)

» SEE MORE PHOTOS OF DAVID BOWIE THROUGH THE YEARS «

This isn’t the most creative Aladdin Sane honor, however clever it might be. On Bowie’s birthday Jan. 8, the Cincinnati Zoo welcomed a new baby penguin named after the “Modern Love” singer.

RELATED STORIES

Willie Nelson’s album of Gershwin songs due Feb. 26

Willie Nelson performs with his sons Lukas, left, and Micah at the Gershwin Prize ceremony, airing Jan. 15 on KLRU. Phobo by Scott Henrichsen
Willie Nelson performs with his sons Lukas, left, and Micah at the Gershwin Prize ceremony, airing Jan. 15 on KLRU. Photo by Scott Henrichsen

To George and Ira, from Willie: “Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin” is set for a Feb. 26 release on Legacy Recordings, the Sony-affiliated label announced Tuesday.

Nelson recently revealed he had an album of songs by the legendary 20th-century songwriting brothers in the works. The news came at a November ceremony in Washington, D.C.,  in which Nelson was awarded the prestigious Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. A 90-minute program of the ceremony’s tribute concert, with Paul Simon, Rosanne Cash, Neil Young and others performing Nelson’s songs, airs this Friday, Jan. 15, at 8 p.m. on PBS stations, including Austin’s KLRU.

In addition to the timeless title track, “Summertime” includes Willie’s renditions of “Someone to Watch Over Me” (which he first recorded for his landmark 1978 album “Stardust”), “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” “I Got Rhythm,” “But Not for Me,” “Love Is Here to Stay” and “They Can’t Take That Away From Me.” The record also features two duets: “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” with Cyndi Lauper and “Embraceable You” with Sheryl Crow.

Frequent Nelson producer Buddy Cannon helmed the sessions along with pianist Matt Rollings. Willie’s Family bandmates Bobbie Nelson, Kevin Smith and Mickey Raphael also contributed, along with Dean Parks, Paul Franklin, David Piltch and Jay Bellerose.

In accepting the Gershwin Award, Nelson offered his opinion that “Ira and George Gershwin were just fantastic writers. They wrote some of the greatest songs ever.”

Willie Nelson, the Mavericks and more to play Rodeo Austin

Willie Nelson performs at his annual Fourth of July Picnic in 2015. (Erika Rich/American-Statesman)
Willie Nelson will open Rodeo Austin March 12. Photo by Erika Rich for American-Statesman

Willie Nelson & Family once again will play the opening night of Rodeo Austin, running March 12-26 at the Travis County Exposition Center.

Rodeo organizers announced about half of this year’s musical performers on Thursday. In addition to Nelson’s March 12 show, they include the Mavericks (March 13), Gary Allan (March 15), the Josh Abbott Band (March 17), Turnpike Troubadours (March 18), Mel Tillis & Pam Tillis (March 20), Smokey Robinson (March 22), Brett Eldredge (March 23) and Kevin Fowler (March 26).

Mainstage performances are in Luedecke Arena, with additional acts (still to be announced) appearing on the secondary KASE/KVET Stage.

Tickets start at $20 and are available beginning Friday, Jan. 8, via rodeoaustin.com or by phone at 512-477-6060.