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BowieTalk
   >> Read It in the Tea Leaves
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SoulLoveChild
(beyond the yoga zone)
12/28/08 11:49 PM
Re: Fresh new [re: EJ]  

Thanks for the review EJ. This is the second time I have heard this story about Michael Rother this month;

Michael Rother, the guitarist in Harmonia (and original Kraftwerk) was personally phoned by Bowie to join the Low and Heroes sessions with him and Eno (who had made an, unreleased, album with Harmonia in '75). However, Michael later got another call from Bowie's management saying Bowie no longer wanted him. Years later the two met up and discovered that this was a management plot to stop Bowie getting too uncommercial. Bowie didn't know about the call and just thought Michael had stood him up.

I am seeing Rother with Harmonia next weekend on an Australian alpine mountain top (Sat 10th Jan), am really looking forward to it!

my face is finished, my body's gone and i can't help but think,
standin' up here in all this applause and gazin' down at all the young and the beautiful with their questioning eyes,
that i must above all things love myself


globule2
(cracked actor)
12/29/08 10:29 AM
Re: Fresh new [re: SoulLoveChild]  

My thanks for your review as well, EJ.



Adam
(cricket menace)
01/01/09 00:04 AM
I can remember, standing, standing by the wall new [re: EJ]  

Thanks EJ and happy new year to all. I found this related article with the huge title / claim:

DID BOWIE BRING DOWN THE BERLIN WALL?
By James Woodall
Dec 15, 2008



You're a 29-year-old megastar with a string of hits behind you. Recklessly enjoying pop's loucher rewards, you're also a drug addict. What do you do? Head for rehab? A monastery? Die?

In 1976, if you're David Bowie, you vanish to West Berlin. For Bowie, Berlin meant German Expressionism, the art movement that exploded there in the early 20th century. That would be his cure. No star of his stature has ever done anything so extraordinary.

His health was extremely fragile. Trashed on cocaine, he'd been living in Los Angeles for 18 months and was obsessed with the occult. Behind him were world-beating albums such as Ziggy Stardust and Diamond Dogs, but his marriage to Angie Barnett was in tatters and he was facing musical burn-out.

And so he took himself not to Marrakesh or Moscow but to Berlin, city of spies and, in its eastern sector, state-sanctioned murder. When Bowie arrived in early '76, just over 13 years before the Berlin Wall came down, escaping East Germans were still being shot on the "death strip" in the heart of the city. John Le Carre's evocation of fevered espionage in Berlin's dark corners was no fiction.

Bowie went from sexually ambiguous glam-rocker to introverted art musician

Britain's edgiest rock star obviously clicked with Berlin's spooky incompleteness, as well as with its danger. He spent, on and off, three years in the city, recording moody and experimental music at the Hansa studios for a trilogy of albums - Low, the better-known Heroes and Lodger - that marked his transition from sexually ambiguous glam-rocker to introverted, ambitious art musician.

The famous title track of Heroes says it all: a tender, anthemic single, its lovers stood "By the wall/And the guns/Shot above our heads".

Now, 30 years after Bowie left Berlin and his Cold War self-rehabilitation, Tobias Ruther, a pop journalist for Germany's heavyweight daily, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, has written a book about the period.

Helden - it means 'heroes' - catches the moment when the divided and isolated city finally shrugged off its post-war neurosis. "Lots of people went there to find something," says Ruther, "mainly about themselves. That's what Bowie did. Berlin changed him. He left behind him all those personae of the early albums, Ziggy Stardust and so on, and - apart from the music - he painted. He was totally inspired by Berlin as an art city."

“Berlin is at the centre of everything that is happening and will happen in Europe.”

With him throughout the three years was Iggy Pop, who also benefitted from the city's spirit of creativity - Bowie produced The Idiot and Lust for Life at Hansa, widely seen as Iggy's two finest albums.

Together they hung out in racy nightclubs such as Chez Romy Haag, with whose eponymous transvestite owner Bowie allegedly had an affair. He drank and smoked heavily, but kicked cocaine.

"I hold the same opinion as Gunter Grass," Bowie told Vogue magazine at the time. "That Berlin is at the centre of everything that is happening and will happen in Europe over the next few years."

Another collaborator was Brian Eno who wrote six songs for Bowie and played on all three albums but did not - contrary to popular myth - produce them.

In 1987, nearly a decade after he left, Bowie returned to West Berlin to give a concert close to the Wall - and spoke German. Riots erupted on the other side. "The demos were really violent," says Ruther. "And guess what? A week later in Berlin, Ronald Reagan told Gorbachev to 'Tear down this wall'."

Ruther says these East Berlin demonstrations were the first in a long line of riots that led to the epoch-making events of November 1989, but stops short of suggesting Bowie had anything to do with the Wall's collapse.

On the other hand, he was one of the biggest stars on the planet, he spoke a little German and he knew as well as anyone the power of pop. Is it so absurd to conclude that David Bowie, ex-Berliner, agitator of - and loved by - millions, helped blast the Wall apart?

'Helden: David Bowie und Berlin' by Tobias Ruther is published in Germany by Rogner & Bernhard.

Bowie Downunder

Chinchilla
(kook)
01/01/09 09:51 AM
Re: I can remember, standing, standing by the wall new [re: Adam]  

Does anyone know what he said to the crowd in German that day?




Adam
(cricket menace)
01/02/09 07:20 PM
Re: New Book, Old Stories new [re: EJ]  

In reply to:

In 1987, nearly a decade after he left, Bowie returned to West Berlin to give a concert close to the Wall - and spoke German. Riots erupted on the other side. "The demos were really violent," says Ruther. "And guess what? A week later in Berlin, Ronald Reagan told Gorbachev to 'Tear down this wall'."

Ruther says these East Berlin demonstrations were the first in a long line of riots that led to the epoch-making events of November 1989, but stops short of suggesting Bowie had anything to do with the Wall's collapse.


So what do you think EJ?

Someone at BWW has answered the original question with "In short, no." but from what you (I think) told me once and the points raised above, it was significant. I believe Coco also quotes Berlin 87 as the greatest Bowie gig - that and the world record breaking Western Springs, Auckland 1983.

Bowie Downunder

EJ
(byroad singer)
01/05/09 11:48 AM
Standing By The Wall new [re: Adam]  

"Wir schicken unsere besten Wünsche an all unsere Freunde, die auf der anderen Seite der Mauer sind.“

(We send our best wishes to all our friends who are on the other side of the Wall)

I was there at the Bowie gig when he sent those words across the Wall, followed by a great version of "Heroes". Enough to make the Wall crumble?

The show was part of the all-year festivities for Berlin's 750th birthday and so it certainly was a very special moment when he sent his greetings across the adjacent Berlin Wall which indeed was only meters away from where Bowie was singing. As close as Bowie was to the Wall, the fans on the other side weren't: that area was sealed off and heavily guarded by the East German authorities. Not only for the show, it always was. So the people Bowie spoke to were pretty far away from him and acoustically things were also hampered by the way the stage was placed: It faced the huge square in front of the Reichstag so the sound was directed away from the Wall. Also the huge Reichstagsbuilding was right behind the stage additionally blocking the way Bowie's words might have taken on the warm summer breeze which blew in the right direction, as far as the legend goes. Consequently it is hard to say if Bowie's words got heared on the other side of the Wall and wether they prompted any reaction of the kind we are speculating about.

What is certain is that the show was live on West-Berlin radio and though it was prohibited in the East to listen to it, it is likely that some kids brought along transistors on their march to the wall. And if they received Bowie's message that may well have lead to further heat behind the iron curtain that night. What we also know is that there was quite some fighting between youngsters and the police, when the truncheon kings tried to stop them to get closer to the forbidden area. Still that wasn't the first time that violence errupted there because of a rock show by the Reichstag. If I remember correctly even a Barclay James Harvest (!!!) free concert there in 1980 led to similar events in East Berlin.

That mentioned Ronald Reagan speech shortly after Bowie's show cannot have anything to do with the events - it can't be more than just a timely coincidence as part of the festivities. Too little were the headlines about the Bowie events back then and I doubt that of all presidents Reagan would have been the one to call Bowie an influence. That Reagan urged Gorbatschow to tear down the wall was bigger a move than Bowie's friendly greeting - and a totally absurd one to me that day. Little did I know.

Summing it up I would say that Bowie made a great gesture to the rock fans in the East of Berlin that night. Nothing more, nothing less. If they picked it up on their radios it may have spurred the fighting that night and it may have strenghtened the will to disobey. But in the end it wasn't so much what he said but the fact that he was there - and that there was a major rock event in town which was a universe away for the kids born on the wrong side of the Wall. That experience of being jailed (which was repeated in daily life on smaller scales) certainly played a major role when two years later the people from East Berlin decided that they'd had enough of being locked up. But in that aspect merits must go to The Eurythmics and Genesis, too, who co-headlined that three day event. Pop culture, its lack and the subsequent longing for it in the East definitely played its part when it came to putting an end to the regime in East Germany. But crediting Bowie and the 1987 Reichstag's gig with igniting what later became the peaceful revolution is going way too far. As I said before: The only weakness of Rüther's book is that in the Bowie-Berlin-relationship he sees an influence on each other in all and everything.

And as he probably forgot: The mass demonstrations which sparked the nationwide unrest didn't begin in East Berlin - they began in the city of Leipzig. Two years later, some 200 kilometers away. And Bowie didn't play.

TW GOD OF FOOTBALL


Chinchilla
(kook)
01/05/09 03:42 PM
Re: Standing By The Wall new [re: EJ]  

Really interesting post EJ. It would be good if someone could speak to people who were on the East side of the wall during that concert, and get their opinion on what happened.



Adam
(cricket menace)
01/07/09 03:22 AM
Re: Standing By The Wall new [re: EJ]  

Thanks EJ.

Any chance you can stalk Hansa for us?

A certain user on Twitter (a social network utility) is making the following claim:


David Bowie

Cheers from a snowy Berlin! Working on some new material!

1:36 PM Jan 5th from web


http://twitter.com/DavidBowie




Bowie Downunder

Diamond Frog
(acolyte)
01/07/09 06:29 PM
Re: Standing By The Wall new [re: Adam]  

This looks genuine to me.

Satie's Faction

EJ
(byroad singer)
01/08/09 05:15 AM
Bowie The Snowman new [re: Diamond Frog]  

In reply to:

This looks genuine to me.


How can you tell?

But I'll try to find out more here.

TW GOD OF FOOTBALL



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