Forty years after he briefly lived in the city and was inspired to make his famous ‘Berlin trilogy’ of albums in the late ‘70s, the German capital has unveiled a new commemorative plaque outside the home he shared with fellow star Iggy Pop.
On Monday (August 22nd), traffic was at a standstill on Hauptstrasse 155 in West Berlin’s Schöneberg district as the plaque was revealed outside the flat where Bowie and Iggy lived between late 1976 and 1978.
Costing a reported £2,900 and made of bone china, the memorial quotes Bowie’s iconic hit “Heroes”, the song inspired by the couple kissing by the Berlin Wall that Bowie spied from a window at the Hansa recording studio in Kreuzberg. The decision to place the memorial was made by the senate, notable because it usually requires a five-year waiting period to make sure the deceased figure being memorialised is truly historically significant.
According to Berlin’s mayor, Social Democrat politicians Michael Müller, Bowie played a key role in giving the city a “sense of being a city of culture, creativity and openness… David Bowie belongs to Berlin, David Bowie belongs to us.”
Bowie recorded his 1977 album “Heroes” in the city, the second of three studio albums that became loosely banded together as a trilogy recorded with the legendary Brian Eno and in some part inspired by Berlin.
The others were Low (actually recorded in France) and Lodger (actually recorded in Switzerland), and all three were radically different to the glam-rock and soul-influenced records Bowie had released earlier in the decade.
Bowie moved to the city in order to escape the drug-fuelled Los Angeles scene, and viewed Berlin as a period of rehabilitation and re-adjusting to normality, revelling in the relative anonymity he found there. Müller admitted he was slightly confused by this decision, as Berlin was notorious in the 1970s as having a drug problems of its own. “Maybe he didn’t know our city very well when he made that decision.”