It's That Voice. I suddenly realized it today when I saw a YouTube montage of clips from his concerts. No matter the song, the style, the era, David Bowie's voice rings out clear and soars over the music, from a rich fruity baritone to heart-rending falsetto bends, grabbing me like no other singer has.

Of course it's everything else, too: a complete, unassailable product. The unique songs, startling melodies, enigmatic lyrics, innovative arrangements and soundscapes, the bizarre yet alluring makeup and clothes, the ever-changing personality and controversial behaviour — the whole package was extraordinary. Written off by some as a cracked actor, a hollow man, there were also thousands like me who were drawn to this man who in front of us all was openly seeking, experimenting, searching in a way that no spiritual seekers, avant-garde experimenters, or philosophical searchers have done. He did it large, within the public arena, the music biz, the pop scene.

In 1966, age 16, I first saw him play in the tatty old Marquee Club in London's Soho. He played there 15 times that year, billed as David Bowie and the Buzz. I saw him at least three of those times, and after the initial impact, I made sure I'd get there earlier next time so as to be nearer the front and get a closer look at this charismatic being with piled-up blond hair and impossibly wide belts. I'd rush straight from school, still in uniform, this timid little lad who hadn't even become a mod yet (that happened a year later). The Marquee didn't have a drink license yet (only Coca-Cola was served), so I didn't need to lie about my age to get in.