Where was he then? Bowie relives odyssey in Seventies Berlin
Berlin’s much vaunted love affair with David Bowie has been given a new lease of life with the release of the singer’s first album in a decade, featuring a track dedicated to his time in the once-divided Cold War city at the end of the 1970s.
Bowie’s Berlin song, “Where Are We Now”, has been given hours of air time on the German capital’s radio stations since its advance release as a single in January.
Today it was being given more wall-to-wall exposure to mark the launch of the song’s parent album, The Next Day.
Berlin’s Inforadio news and current affairs station was one of the many broadcasters to heap praise on the album.
“Bowie fans might have expected this to be the 66-year-old rock star’s last throw. But it’s so fresh it sounds as if he has just picked up where he left off 10 years ago,” it remarked.
“Where Are We Now” recalls Bowie’s stay in West Berlin from 1976 to 1979. The single was released with a moody video showing the artist at the apartment where he once lived, and walking past remnants of the Berlin Wall. It also alludes to the dramatic fall of the Wall on the night of 9 November 1989.
Bowie was a drawn and emaciated 29-year-old who sported an Elvis hair style when he arrived in West Berlin 37 years ago. He was seeking anonymity and trying to kick the drink and cocaine habits he had formed in Los Angeles, which were threatening to turn him into yet another rock’n’roll casualty.
At the time, capitalist West Berlin was a haven of alternative culture and radical protest. It was also a magnet for youngsters, who could avoid compulsory military service by moving to a divided city that was outside the jurisdiction of the West German government, and controlled by the Western Allies and the Soviet Union.
“I never felt freer than I did in Berlin,” Bowie once remarked.
The musician lived with Iggy Pop and Brian Eno in the city’s mostly middle-class Schöneberg district and hung out at one of Europe’s first openly gay bars a few doors down the street. Bowie recorded three of his most highly acclaimed albums, including “Heroes”, at the city’s Hansa studios nearby.
“I spent most of my time with Iggy and basically we tried to get away from the state we were in when we lived in the US,” he said in an interview with the Berlin newspaper Der Tagesspiegel.
The singer eventually settled in New York. But the legend of Bowie’s Berlin lives on and fascinates many of the millions of visitors who have been flocking to the German capital in ever increasing numbers since the fall of the Wall.
Berlin has not yet copied Hamburg, where a Beatles museum celebrates the Fab Four’s time in the city in the early 1960s, but it is moving in that direction with Bowie. The rock star has been given massive media coverage, the city’s clubs have been hosting “Bowie nights” and visitors can even go on Bowie walking tours of the city.
The DJ Mike West who runs “Berlin Bowie Walk” takes visitors to all the places where the “Thin White Duke” lived, sang and hung out. He said there were many reasons why Bowie chose Berlin, including an interest in the history of the Weimar Republic and Krautrock bands such as Kraftwerk. “Berliners are very proud of Bowie and the fact that he created his best music here,” he said.
Yet not all aspects of Bowie’s Berlin legend live up to expectations. The star’s former apartment is now inhabited by a large immigrant family whose members say they have absolutely no interest in David Bowie. And a one-room pub, called “Seventies”, on the ground floor of the building had hoped to cash in on Bowie mythology, but fans stole all its Bowie photographs. The owner has since decided to install gaming machines instead.
- 1 Florida man sentenced to two-and-a-half years for having sex on the beach in front of a child
- 2 Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
- 3 Nick Kyrgios calls former Olympian Dawn Fraser a 'blatant racist' after she tells Wimbledon star to 'go back where their parents came from'
- 4 World learns of app that shows you who unfriended you on Facebook, app promptly crashes
- 5 Chris Moyles reportedly set to make radio comeback with new breakfast show on XFM
Florida man sentenced to two-and-a-half years for having sex on the beach in front of a child
Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
Man who was struck and killed by lightning in Brecon Beacons 'was carrying a selfie stick'
Greece debt crisis as it happened: EU chiefs at loggerheads hours before Alexis Tsipras’s last ditch deal proposals
Bakery sends 'horrific' version of Frozen-themed birthday cake to unsuspecting customer
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Sickness and disability benefits could be reduced by £30 a week as part of £12bn welfare cuts
Greece debt crisis: Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande issue Athens with 24-hour ultimatum to avoid crashing out of the euro
Greece crisis: Referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its lack of genuine legitimacy
£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...
£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...
£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...
£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...