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Bowie and Berlin

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Image Credits Alexas_Fotos, CC0

If you know David Bowie, God rest his beautifully creative soul, you will most probably know of his “Berlin years”. This is arguably the most important time for Bowie’s career as it produced three of his most highly acclaimed albums – Heroes, Low and Lodger.

The Berlin years were between 1976 and 1979, when this legendary artist took himself to West Berlin in order to beat his drug addiction. Little did Bowie know, but his choice of destination would also reignite his passion and creativity. The time that he visited was one of division, war and loss intertwined into the country’s historic art culture; the perfect inspiration for the three subsequent albums with a New Romantic flavour.

References In Bowie’s Music Past and Present

His inspiration is clear with references made to Checkpoint Charlie, Potzdamer Platz and other iconic places in the war-torn city; the places and feelings are made even more prominent when repeated on the track, ‘Where Are We Now?’ on his 2013 album entitled, ‘The Next Day’. This continuation of theme so many years later simply proves the effect that the time in Berlin had on him. With hunger, violence and brutality all around him and graffiti artists literally dying for their art, there is no wonder that the visit had a profound effect upon Bowie.

David Bowie’s German Muses

As always, Bowie set the precedent with his music created in and because of Berlin. Bowie was no doubt unequivocally drawn to the sex and art culture of the divided country. With the Berlin Wall standing strong and separating the East and West sides of Germany, the New Romantic era flourished; bands like Kraftwerk and Neu! made sure that the seeds of music invention were sewn into the heart of Bowie and his great friend Iggy Pop during their elongated visits. Soaking up every ounce of war, art and passion that oozed from every pore at the time, Bowie would indulge in musical sessions with Iggy Pop at clubs including Dschungel and SO36 to create his music.

The Berlin Years: A Very Important Turning Point For Music

David Bowie was far more than a musician – he would constantly reinvent himself to keep both the interests of his fans and himself at the forefront. Bowie was just as much a teacher and a procrastinator as a musician; his words could heal, relate and explain things that simple conversation would not achieve. Nevertheless, the Berlin Years really were Bowie’s defining time for reinvention and some would even say that they paved the way for him to become the legend that he still is today, and will remain beyond his untimely death.

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