Bruce Gowers Dead At 82; Directed Iconic Music Videos Including “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Rock With You,” & “Jack & Diane”
Bruce Gowers, the Emmy- and Grammy-winning director who helmed hundreds of music videos (including Queen’s iconic clip for “Bohemian Rhapsody”) and nine-plus seasons of American Idol, has died. Billboard reports that Gowers died Sunday in Santa Monica of complications from an acute respiratory infection, per an announcement from his family. He was 82.
Gowers was born on Dec. 21, 1940, in New Kilbride, Scotland to English parents who were stationed there during World War II. He grew up in Enfield, North London and, after attending BBC Training College, began his career at the BBC, quickly working his way up to directing jobs. In November 1975, at Elstree Studios in London, he directed Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” video for an episode of the BBC’s Top Of The Pops. It was the first music video played on the show and had a profound impact on both Queen’s career and the music video industry at large. Gowers received $590 for his work on the video.
Gowers went on to direct videos for songs including Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You,” Prince’s “1999,” Rod Stewart’s “Hot Legs,” John Mellencamp’s “Jack & Diane,” Rush’s “Limelight” and “Tom Sawyer,” the Bee Gees’ “How Deep Is Your Love,” 10cc’s “I’m Not In Love,” Chaka Khan’s “I’m Every Woman,” and more. He won a Grammy in 1986 for directing Huey Lewis And The News’ “Heart Of Rock And Roll” video. He also developed with Kidsongs video series with his wife, Carol Rosenstein.
In the late 1970s, Gowers moved to the US and, in addition to his ongoing music video work, became a fixture of the American live TV industry. He directed awards shows including the Emmys, the American Music Awards, the Billboard Music Awards, the VMAs and MTV Movie Awards, the ESPYs, the People’s Choice Awards, and more. He directed TV specials for numerous superstar comedians plus pop stars like Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears. From 2002-2011 he also directed 234 episodes of American Idol, presiding over the show’s imperial era. He won an Emmy for his Idol work in 2009.
In addition to his wife, Gowers leaves behind a daughter and son, four grandchildren, an ex-wife, two bulldogs, and a parrot. Per his family, he “always brought boundless enthusiasm, energy, passion and joy to his work. He loved and was loved by the crews that he worked with and was known far and wide for his generosity as a colleague, constantly encouraging and promoting the talented people on his team.
“Funny, irreverent and wonderfully candid, he will be remembered in countless legendary stories that will keep his charming spirit alive for many years to come. He was always happiest in the control room, on a boat in the Bahamas, and of course, at home with the dogs, friends and family.”