Lost and Found, David Bowie

Berlin

Reflecting on the years he spent in this divided city in the mid seventies, David Bowie said:

Berlin was the first time in years that I had felt a joy of life, and a great feeling of release and healing. It’s a city eight times bigger than Paris, remember, and so easy to ‘get lost’ in and to ‘find’ oneself, too.

Early in 1976 David Bowie was in trouble. He was existing on a diet of milk, Gitanes and ‘astronomic’ quantities of cocaine, while dabbling in White Magic and fascism. He had begun to identify with his latest stage character, the Thin White Duke, a cruel Brechtian nightmare. Bowie’s parade of provocative stage identities starting with Ziggy Stardust, followed by Aladdin Sane, Halloween Jack and now the Duke, had satisfied his love of theatricality. They were also useful in alleviating his performance anxiety (he was shy). But after a while, a persona becomes difficult to shed without losing one’s own skin.

Despite his flair for novelty and reinvention, Bowie’s life had become a rock and roll cliché: the orgies, the dealers, the paranoia. His marriage was in its death throes; he had lost most of his ‘normal’ friends and he was going broke. One journalist noticed that he looked ‘Thin as a stick insect. And corpse pale, as if his lifeblood had all run up into his flaming hair.’

Looking back, he said ‘It was probably one of the worst periods of my life, I was undergoing serious mental health problems…..I needed to completely change my environment and the people I knew’. He decided to shift from LA to a place that was ‘tough’ and ‘foreign’.

Berlin

Bowie had been fascinated by Berlin ever since reading Christopher Isherwood’s Goodbye to Berlin which is set in Weimar Germany between the wars. Its vignettes evoke the unique atmosphere existing in Berlin at that time, a city desperate to reassert itself after the humiliations of the First World War. It was a place where creativity flourished, and sexual deviance and poverty collided. Isherwood portrayed Weimar’s closing chapter: the heady, and frenetic last fling of a city on the precipice of Nazi domination.

Bowie, a painter himself, was also interested in the sophisticated and innovative culture that came to life in Berlin in the twenties: the music of Brecht and Weill; films of Fritz Laing, and most especially the art of German Abstract Expressionism. Combined, they made Berlin:

the artistic and cultural gateway of Europe…virtually anything important that happened in the arts happened there. I wanted to plug into that instead of LA and their seedy magic shops.

He brought with him another legend, Iggy Pop, who also needed to get sober, and his PA Coco Schwab, a lifelong friend and associate.

Hitting Bottom

At first, Bowie and Iggy fell into their usual habits. They haunted the gay bars, beer houses, nightclubs like the Roxy, the Jungle, and a discotheque run by Romy Haag (born Edouard Frans Verbaarsschott), queen of Berlin’s nightlife. Within the black, mirror-lined interior of her club, Romy stole Bowie’s heart for a while.

They were an oddly matched pair, as journalist Chris Hodenfield observed in Berlin at that time. Bowie, who kept his distance from his audience:

moved gracefully, half-hidden, British, almost snobbish, always impressive.

He had an unnerving habit of looking down and away from people as they addressed him and in social situations he often stood awkwardly apart.

Iggy, a man with ‘severe ideas about fun’, who emerged from performances bruised and winded, was:

sullen, graceless, original, willing, street smart, naive, American, seemingly doomed, but resilient, strong as a horse – we’ll get this jalopy fixed up and on the road in no time.

Ironically, they discovered the city in which they had chosen to get clean was Europe’s capital for heroin. Although Bowie was not tempted in that direction, cocaine was still very much a part of his early life there.

One night in a fit of paranoia Bowie, with Iggy in the passenger seat, rammed their dealer’s car over and over again. Later that night he reached what he called a ‘spiritual impasse’ and found himself roaring around a hotel garage in circles at 70mph. A scene from a Kirk Douglas film Ace in the Hole came into his mind, in which Douglas takes his hands off the steering wheel. On a whim, Bowie did the same thing but before the car could ram into the wall, it ran out of gas. This was his lowest point. Things improved after that, he said.

Coco

The unsung hero of Bowie’s Berlin story was his devoted PA Corinne Schwab, known as Coco. Recognising Bowie needed space and stability, she found them a first-floor apartment in a nondescript hundred-year-old building on Hauptstraße in the West Berlin District of Schöneberg. Isherwood once lived nearby and it was close to the Bucherhalle, a cavernous antiquarian bookstore, perfect for Bowie, the bibliophile. At the time it was a Turkish area, run down, leafy, cheap, a bit hip. Behind the ordinary façade was a divided mansion and their part was a seven-room dark, wood panelled retreat.

Having been pampered, right down to having toothpaste squeezed onto his brush for him, Bowie was so completely undomesticated that when Coco went away on a trip he was unable to cope. His producer Tony Visconti was so appalled at the state of the apartment that he moved in to look after him until Coco returned.

Coco had the apartment painted white to show off Bowie’s collection of dark paintings. She ordered canvases and tubes of oil paint for him. Beneath his portrait of Yukio Mishima, which hung in his bedroom, she read him Nietzsche. She went along with him to the Brücke Museum to see the works of Kirchner, Schiele and Kollwitz that he had admired as a teen. He was drawn to a woodcut there by Erich Heckel, Roquairol, a tortured pose of madness that he used as inspiration for the album cover of ‘Heroes’.

Gradually, Bowie began to withdraw from the excesses of his LA life, recovering from his cocaine psychosis and easing into a more sedate existence. Iggy met a girlfriend, Esther Friedman the daughter of a diplomat, and they moved into the apartment next door. Often the three of them would take off in Esther’s Volkswagen to the flat, wooded lakelands surrounding Berlin. Or they would drive through East Germany to reach the Black Forest. Bowie said Iggy was fascinated by the

rinky-dink villages full of strange old German people. We used to get lost. I like to go out and get lost and be in places made of wood, just to wash every shred of America off. Taking a walk was like taking a shower.

Ordinary Life

This was the perfect city for a superstar who wished to remain anonymous, as Berliners were not especially impressed by celebrity. Dressed as a proletariat in baggy trousers and dowdy shirt, with newly cropped hair, Bowie relished not being recognised. One night on a whim he stood up in a cabaret and performed some Frank Sinatra songs, and was politely asked by the audience to stop; they had come for another act.

Bowie often reminisced about the expansive sense of freedom he experienced here. He and Iggy could lead a low-key existence, and enter fully into the life of the city whenever they wanted. It was a novelty to do ordinary things like catch trains, shop for food and visit museums.

Iggy later described a typical day:

Get up in the morning on bread and cheese and eat. Then walk over the city, which hasn’t changed since 1910: organ grinders who still had monkeys, quality transvestite shows. A different world.

By evening, I’d go have dinner with Bowie, see a film, or watch Starsky and Hutch – that was our big thing.

Away from the limelight, Bowie started writing songs, painting again, and listening to music. Kraftwerk – ‘folk music of the factories’ as he called it, and his German friend Edgar Froese’s album Epsilon in Malaysian Pale (1975) were his soundtracks to these days.

A City Divided

The Berlin they inhabited for three years from the late summer of 1976 was broken and divided. Snipers from the watchtowers on the Eastern side of the Wall would shoot anyone who tried to make their way across the ‘death zone’ that ran adjacent to the Wall. According to John Cale people were ‘living on the edge…it was a fiery place to be. There was a lot of distrust near the border, but West Berlin was partying twenty-four/seven.’

One of Bowie’s guitarists, Ricky Gardiner, remembers driving down the heavily guarded corridor through East Germany,

The autobahn was just as Hitler had built it. It had not had any repairs. The broken concrete slabs had taken on a tectonic plate-like life of their own and we bounced from slab to slab. The autobahn was occasionally crossed by overhead walkways. Here, small groups of people would gather to watch the affluent West exercising freedom they could only dream about. Their dress was drab and colourless. They had the demeanour of inmates of some restrictive institution.

Recording

Bowie used to cycle to the Hansa Studio in the Kreuzberg area and hunker down in its Studio 2, which he nicknamed the ‘Big Hall by the Wall’. It had served as a ballroom for Nazi dinner dances; now it stood almost completely alone, in an overgrown field full of rubble and ruins, just five hundred yards from the Wall. In the stark lighting of the recording studio, they knew they were being watched. Tony Visconti said,

Every afternoon I’d sit down at the desk and see three Russian Red Guards looking at us with binoculars with their Sten guns over their shoulders and the barbed wire. I knew that there were mines buried in that wall and the atmosphere was so provocative, so stimulating and so frightening that the band played with so much energy. 

Hunt Sales, whom they recruited for ‘Heroes’, added: ‘You had all these people within the Wall. That’s gotta do something to people’s psyche….Being trapped in this place. I think it found its way into the records.’

Brian Eno assisted on all three of the albums that mark Bowie’s Berlin period: Low (1977) ‘Heroes’ (1977) and Lodger (1979) and was hugely influential. In an interview with Stuart Grundy (1977) Bowie said he had been feeling spent and stale about his music. Unable to look at himself properly, he was in need of help to discover future directions and he felt fortunate that he had chosen the highly empathetic Eno to work with.

Eno introduced Bowie to a different approach to song writing and fired him with new inspiration. They devised the idea of planned accidents: two statements put together would inevitably produce a third piece of information. The third piece was what they listened for and worked with. He helped Bowie to realise it was unnecessary to adopt characters to sing his songs for him, he could do just as well on his own. And whenever he felt timid about the work, Eno would remind him: ‘in music, you can crash your plane and walk away from it. Art really isn’t that full of life-threatening situations.’

The Berlin Trilogy, as the albums became known, were stylistically prescient. While others were making prog rock in the mid-seventies, Bowie reached musical heights with a fresh mix of ambient and experimental electro-pop. These albums were innovative, raw-edged and hugely influential. Bowie was back on his game, intuiting a new musical direction well ahead of anyone else. He said:

If I never made another album it really wouldn’t matter now, my complete being is within those three. They are my DNA.

‘Heroes’, the Making of a Song

As Tony Visconti explains here in detail, every song on ‘Heroes’ began with a backing track. The title track originated from a fragment of a song that Bowie had planned for Iggy, but which had been rejected. Bowie had a strong band of musicians behind him with whom he had worked for a number of years: Dennis Davis (drums), Carlos Alomar (guitars) and George Murray (bass). For a few hours, they would keep overlaying powerful sounds with no melody, form or structure. Brian Eno came up with spacious sounds on his synthesiser, Bowie played piano. Later, Robert Fripp came and laid down three tracks, adding a ‘celestial Fripp sound’. When Bowie wanted a cowbell, Visconti simulated it by using the metal reel of a tape which he hit with a drumstick. Bowie and Visconti manipulated and edited everything they had, tweaking the rhythm tracks. ‘Before we knew it, we had a sound no-one had ever heard before’, said Visconti.

A few weeks later Bowie wrote the lyrics in one sitting, line by line, while listening to playback. He tended to be impatient with technicalities and orthodox ways of recording and delighted in improvising. After each line he would get his vocal on tape, then Visconti would rewind the playback, ready for the next line.

Bowie took as his source a German Expressionist painting by Otto Mueller in Die Brücke Museum, Liebespaar Zwischen Gartenmauern (Lovers Between Garden Walls) which had been painted towards the end of the First World War.

He transplanted the lovers to the Wall he could see each day from the studio window and it was while gazing out the window that Bowie spied the married Visconti stealing a kiss with backing singer Antonia Maass, on a bench beneath a guard turret by the Wall. This immediately provided him with a narrative hook: illicit love and bravery set against the bleak concrete bunker madness of the Cold War.

I, I can remember (I remember)
Standing, by the wall (by the wall)
And the guns, shot above our heads (over our heads)
And we kissed, as though nothing could fall (nothing could fall)
And the shame, was on the other side
Oh we can beat them, for ever and ever
Then we could be Heroes, just for one day

Bowie later explained that Visconti had been approaching the end of his marriage to Welsh singer Mary Hopkin, ‘it was very touching because I could see that Tony was very much in love with this girl, and it was that relationship that motivated the song.’ He wondered at their choice to kiss underneath the guard turret:

I presumed that they were feeling somewhat guilty about this affair and so they had imposed this restriction on themselves, thereby giving themselves an excuse for their heroic act. I used this as a basis… therefore it is ironic.

Which accounts for the inverted commas of ‘Heroes’. Bowie later conceded that the song was just as much about himself: ‘I’d got over the majority of my emotional decline, and felt like I was coming back to who I should have been…’ Part of it was him telling himself: ‘We can get out of this, I’ll be okay.’

The lyrics can also be construed as a sort of Cold War Romeo and Juliet story: one lover from the East, the other from the West, they meet fleetingly on an assignation by the Wall. Under constant fear of death or, at the very least, arrest, they find redemption together ‘just for one day’.

In ‘Heroes’, Bowie delivers the lyrics of yearning in a searing, impassioned croon over pulsing synths and screaming guitars, that build for six minutes (it is worth watching the unedited version here). ‘Heroes’ captures the ache and loneliness of a divided city, its citizens separated from loved ones by means of violence and intimidation. It resonated with hundreds of thousands who longed for reunification and an end to the Cold War. Bowie and Eno recognised immediately that the song was one of his strongest yet.

Coming Back

Bowie had arrived in Berlin with more than a passing interest in Nazi history and some of his flattering comments about Hitler had risked derailing his career. But he quickly changed his mind. He was horrified by the orthodontist in his own building who kept reproduction skulls of Hitler’s cabinet members, using them to argue the dental merits of ‘Nordic blood’. And confronting talks with friends about their fathers who had been SS officers made him reconsider, recant, and embrace a more humane way of thinking.

In 1977 Bowie starred in Just a Gigolo, a film celebrating Weimar, with Marlene Dietrich in a supporting role (the film flopped). He struck up a friendship with the assistant director, Rory MacLean, who spent many evenings in Bowie’s Hauptstraße apartment. MacLean had heard the gossip about the Thin White Duke, the fascism, his paranoia and dealings with the occult. But during the time they worked together, he said,

I saw only a gentle, articulate, warm and affable man, filled with self-effacing good humour, on the cusp of finding his own true self.

During these years Bowie developed warmer relationships with family members from whom he had been estranged, particularly his mother. He was granted full time custody of his son and they grew close. He even overcame his fear of flying. Just before attending the London premiere of Just a Gigolo, Bowie told journalist Jean Rook:

Now I look at other people. I even go into shops and, if someone talks to me, I chat back. Three years ago I could have no more done that than fly – literally. They couldn’t drag me on an aeroplane screaming, at one time. Now, every day, I get up more nerve and try to be more normal and less insulated against real people.

These few years rescued Bowie from ‘that dull greeny-grey limelight of American rock’n’roll and its repercussions’ and may well have saved his life. He called Berlin his ‘clinic’, as it revived him on every level: emotionally, physically, psychologically, spiritually, and musically.

Ten Years Later

In 1987, just after his fortieth birthday, Bowie returned to Berlin on his Glass Spider Tour, where he joined the bill for a three-day rock festival in front of the Reichstag in the Platz der Republik. They were performing very close to the Wall in what was probably an act of deliberate provocation on behalf of the organisers. Guards on the Eastern side were on the alert as rock music was viewed by the authorities as a threat that could destabilise the East and provoke civil unrest. It was never confirmed whether the speakers were deliberately pointed towards East Berlin, but many people on the other side of the Wall could hear Bowie loud and clear that day. He said:

We kind of heard that a few of the East Berliners might actually get the chance to hear the thing, but we didn’t realise in what numbers they would. And there were thousands on the other side that had come close to the wall.

So it was like a double concert where the wall was the division. And we would hear them cheering and singing along from the other side. God, even now I get choked up. It was breaking my heart. I’d never done anything like that in my life, and I guess I never will again.

An East Berliner who had been there as a fifteen-year-old fan said, ‘The mood was one of enjoying forbidden fruit. We knew that this was somehow being done for our benefit.’ Midway through the concert, Bowie called out in German,

We send our best wishes to all of our friends who are on the other side of the wall.

It was his message that the next song, ‘Heroes’, was for them and masses of people on the Eastern side tried to charge the Wall, only to be beaten back. Bowie said that singing ‘Heroes’ that day felt extraordinary, ‘anthemic, almost like a prayer’. ‘It was one of the most emotional performances I’ve ever done. I was in tears.’

Two days later, the festival triggered a heavy-handed response from police in the East. When thousands of young people moved closer to the Wall to listen to Genesis perform, they were attacked with water cannons, beaten and arrested. Berliners on both sides were outraged at the way a peaceful concert had been turned into such a vicious event. It is widely believed the crackdown brought about a crucial shift in public mood and opinion that, two years later, helped bring down the Wall. Many have credited Bowie for his role in that.

Bowie often ended his concerts with ‘Heroes’ and it was the last song in his set at the at the Hurricane Festival in Scheeßel, Germany’s Lower Saxony, on 25 June 2004. After singing a few more standards as encores, he collapsed backstage, having suffered a heart attack. This was the last time he would be seen in concert.

Final Act

On Bowie’s 66th birthday (8 January 2013) he gifted to the world his song Where Are We Now? as a free download. It was his first single in ten years and he announced that a new album was on its way.

His life had taken another surprising turn. The hard drinker who once confessed to Morrissey, ‘You know, I’ve had so much sex and drugs that I can’t believe I’m still alive’, was sober. He had been happily married for twenty years to Iman Abdulmajid, whose level headedness he deeply prized, and they had largely managed to keep their relationship private. Intimacy and fulfilment had made the difference:

I no longer need attention. I wanted the adoration of the masses, the audience, because I was incapable of one-to-one communication. I used to feel nothing without my work.

Where Are We Now?, the fragile and moving song that came out of the blue after a long silence, contained another surprise: the forward thinking artist had broken his own rule by looking back. The song is full of longing for the Berlin of the seventies, the ‘irreplaceable, unmissable experience’ which he said had probably been the happiest time of his life up to that point. Here he is, wandering the streets, visiting the old Berlin places:

Had to get the train
From Potsdamer Platz
You never knew that
That I could do that
Just walking the dead

Sitting in the Dschungel
On Nürnberger Strasse
A man lost in time
Near KaDeWe
Just walking the dead

Where are we now?
Where are we now?

And musing about the way inspiration can strike at any time: ‘as long as there’s fire … the moment you know, you know.’

It was Bowie’s strong connection to Berlin, the impact of his music on its people and their lives lived in the shadow of the Wall, that was acknowledged on his death three years later, by this tweet from the German Foreign Office:

Good-bye, David Bowie. You are now among Heroes. Thank you for helping to bring down the wall.

Connection

Like David Bowie, Christopher Isherwood (cousin to Graham Greene) came to Berlin to escape – in his case from his very English, prudish upbringing. Isherwood was gay and he came for the boys and the freer climate, as did thousands of others who sought sanctuary from the homophobic values of their home countries. While working as an English teacher, he thoroughly explored his sexuality, joined a group of other rebellious exiles including poets WH Auden and Stephen Spender, and met Jean Ross, whom he immortalised as the divinely decadent and unforgettable Sally Bowles in his most famous book, Goodbye to Berlin (1939):

Her fingernails were painted an emerald green, a colour unfortunately chosen, for it called attention to her hands which were much stained by cigarette smoking and as dirty as a little girl’s …  She sang badly, without any expression, her hands hanging down at her sides – yet her performance was, in its own way, effective because of her startling appearance and her air of not caring a curse what people thought of her. ‘That’s the man I slept with last night,’ she announced. ‘He makes love marvellously. He’s an absolute genius at business and he’s terribly rich—

The role was played by Liza Minnelli in the Oscar winning film adaptation of the novel Cabaret (1972), and there have been countless other film and stage incarnations. In Berlin, Isherwood met his first great love Heinz Neddermeyer, with whom he fled the Nazis in 1933. Isherwood never permanently returned to England, and eventually settled in California. It is widely believed that his novel A Single Man (1964) was his greatest achievement. It is a moving portrayal of middle age, on which the 2009 film of the same name was based.

One of the most famous lines in Goodbye to Berlin (1939) is: ‘I am a camera’, which describes the way the narrator (Isherwood himself) tries to deliver pure reportage, remaining detached from the scene he was so precisely describing.  Bowie commandeered and tweaked the term, calling himself a photostatter to describe the way he gleefully thieved ideas from others.

Meeting Isherwood backstage at one of his concerts in LA in 1976, Bowie asked about his memories of Berlin, the decadence of Weimar, the rise of Nazism. Isherwood encouraged him to try the city out for himself and added somewhat ruefully: ‘Young Bowie, people forget that I’m a very good fiction writer.’

Notes

Berlin was experiencing a heatwave when we arrived in late summer. Temperatures nudged 40 Celsius most days, which curbed our sightseeing plans somewhat. My beautiful, grave girlfriend was newly in love, full of butterflies and nervous anticipation and we secreted ourselves in shady parts of the Tiergarten, talking about this new, surprising development in her life. In the evenings the beer gardens next to the river slowly filled with Berliners dropping by for relaxed drinks with friends.

Berlin is a large, intriguing city, difficult to get to know in a short time. Vast sections of the city were razed to the ground during the Second World War and huge tracts of wasteland full of broken concrete remain, like scars. When the Berlin Wall was constructed, thousands more buildings were demolished on the Eastern side to create a no man’s land along the Wall’s circumference. So when the Wall came down in November 1989, there was a vast wasteland extending from the Brandenburg Gate to Potsdamer Platz and Leipziger Platz. Some people consider these voids to be wounds representing the violence and loss experienced by the city’s citizens. They fight for them to be left alone as repositories for memory, as much a part of Berlin’s identity as the buildings that remain.

Potsdamer Platz is around the corner from Hansa Studios where Bowie recorded ‘Heroes’. In the twenties and thirties, it was the Piccadilly Circus of Berlin, the centre for the wildest nightlife in Europe, but it was obliterated by allied bombing. Afterwards the Wall was built around it and it too became a no man’s land. It has now been filled with modern buildings in a collaborative effort by some of the world’s finest architects, becoming a showcase of urban renewal. But many see it as evidence of a senseless rush to obliterate the past. Apart from the gratuitous bits of the Wall on display, it is a place that could be anywhere.

The images of the mannequins come from the wonderful Museum of Things in Kreuzberg, the area where Bowie rode his bike on his way to the studio. I thought of him as we wandered the fascinating streets of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, taking in the busy cafes, art spaces and communal gardens. Really, Berlin turned out to be the scene of Bowie’s greatest reinvention: the shift from despair to ‘joy’, from addiction to ‘release and healing’. He was lucky to have Coco. But what helped pull him back from the brink were his enthusiasms, the depth and breadth of his interests; his love of books, art, and music, his love of learning. In the blackest of times, they could still tempt him. And they saved him.

Once the weather cooled, we joined a bicycle tour which connected up the discrepant parts of the city for me, giving me a sense of the lay of the land. We saw an extended part of the Wall, bleak on a cool, overcast day.

The pain and distress caused by this Wall was brought home to us by the couple we stayed with, who had been raised on the Eastern side. Our male friend, a former soldier, had received instructions issued by the Stasi, to ‘stop or liquidate’ would-be dissidents.

Do not hesitate to use your firearm, not even when the border is breached in the company of women and children, which is a tactic the traitors have often used.

To be able to live with his conscience, he realised he had to flee his country. It was early in 1989 and conditions were relaxing a little. He and his fiancé  obtained a permit for a short break in the Socialist Republic of Hungary. Hungary had relaxed its policy of illegal border crossing to Austria, providing a transit route for East Europeans to emigrate to the West.

It was a snap decision for the couple, to risk making the border crossing into Austria. They went ahead, not knowing whether they would be shot at, nor whether they would see their families again. Their action made family members in East Berlin potential targets for retribution, and created a rift that has never healed. The fear and pain of their story was palpable, making all hairs on the back of my neck stand up. And what is immeasurably sad is that in this era of displacement and upheaval, their experience is so current.

Weblinks

An interesting interview with Bowie.

And talking about his experience in Berlin with Iggy.

Iggy Pop talks briefly here about what it was like to be in Berlin.

Visconti talks in depth here about the Berlin Trilogy.

Brian Eno discusses David Bowie’s strengths.

Chris O’Learys’s blog Pushing Ahead of the Dame, David Bowie, Song by Song is a wonderful resource for those interested in knowing more about the songs.

David Bowie often polished off a book a day. Here is a list of his top 100 books.

And here is The Bowie Bookclub.

Edmund White writes about Christopher Isherwood.

A clip of a song, Wilkommen, from Bob Foss’s 1972 film Cabaret, based on the novel by Christopher Isherwood, starring Liza Minnelli, Joel Grey and Michael York. One YouTube viewer has observed that the onlooker at 0.28 is modelled on German Expressionist painter Otto Dix’s Portrait of Journalist Sylvia von Harden (1926).

Footage of Potsdamer Platz in the Twenties.

A range of Bike Tours available in Berlin.

Visit Berlin.

Sources:

Bowie by the Book‘, Exberliner, #127, May 2014

Crowe, Cameron. ‘David Bowie: Ground Control to Davy Jones‘, Rolling Stone #206, February 12, 1976

Fisher, Max. ‘David Bowie at the Berlin Wall: the incredible story of a concert and its role in history’, Vox, Jan 11, 2016

Hughes, Rob. ‘David Bowie Remembers Berlin: “I can’t express the feeling of freedom I felt there”’, Uncut, 6 January, 2017

Leigh, Wendy. Bowie: The Biography, 2014, Gallery Books

Sandford, Christopher. Bowie: Loving the Alien, Warner Books, 1997

Spitz, Marc. Bowie: A Biography, Crown, 2009

O’Leary, Chris. Pushing Ahead of the Dame: David Bowie Song by Song, “Heroes

The Christopher Isherwood Foundation

West Brett, Donna. Photography and Place: Seeing and Not Seeing Germany After 1945, Routledge, 2015

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  1. Barbara Cail on

    A wonderful and fascinating story about Bowie. His character combined with the the cultural descriptions of Berlin was a marvellous learning experience.
    Thank you for such a fabulous story.
    Barbara

    Reply
  2. Barbara Cail on

    A wonderful and fascinating story about Bowie. His character combined with the the cultural descriptions of Berlin was a marvellous learning experience for me.
    Thank you for such a fabulous story.
    Barbara

    Reply
  3. Jo Wing on

    Hi Bob. I thought Bowie was magnetic and fascinating. Thanks for reminding me about that film – I always meant to see it. I saw ‘A Single Man’ again last night, the one with Colin Firth based on the Isherwood novel. Well worth seeing if you haven’t already.

    Reply