all headings Moscow Bowie

Over the last 25 years, Moscow has been visited by many world music stars – perhaps it is easier to name those musicians who have not yet visited the Holy See. But only a few foreign artists got acquainted with the life of Moscow during the Soviet years – the iron curtain was impeded, some decided on a long and fascinating journey.

David Bowie on the train rides the Trans-Siberian Railway, 1973
David Bowie on the train rides the Trans-Siberian Railway, 1973

Nevertheless, there were musicians who visited the Soviet Moscow. One of them is the legend of rock music David Bowie. He visited the Holy See three times, and the first two times – at the time of the USSR. The actor walked a lot in Moscow, photographed, communicated with ordinary Soviet citizens – there were many memories of these trips, both from Bowie himself and his entourage.

The first visit “the man fell to the ground” was held in Moscow in April 1973. Japanese part of the tour in support of the album “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust” ended, the musicians had two weeks of vacation. While all members of the group quickly departed for the United Kingdom by plane, Bowie chose one to go home much more sophisticated. The fact is that in those days, David categorically refused to fly on planes, and one of the best ways to get to London without the use of planes was a trip to the Trans-Siberian to Moscow, where the actor went on the train to Berlin.

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PASSERBY REACTED WITH AMAZEMENT TO THE RED-HAIRED MUSICIAN, AND KGB OFFICERS TIRELESSLY CONTROLLED BOWIE’S ACTIONS

In Moscow, Bowie arrived on April 30, 1973 at the Yaroslavsky station, built in 1904 by some of the best architects of pre-revolutionary Russia – Fedor Shekhtel and Lev Kekushev. Installed the artist on Gorky Street (in 1990 he was returned to his historical name – Tverskaya) in a newly built hotel “Intourist”, overlooking the Manege Square. David lived on one of the upper floors and his windows overlooked the historical museum of today and the hotel “Moscow”, built by the architect Alexey Shchousev in 1932-1935. It should be noted that from the beginning, the Intourist was perceived by many Muscovites as hostile, people called it a “rotten tooth” – the building was highly disconcerted by the historical development of the neighborhood. For the construction of a multi-storey building designed by architect Yuri Sheverdiaev in 1965, the three-storey building of the former “France” hotel, located here during the tsarist era, was demolished. “Intourist” at this location for a long time did not exist – by the end of 2002 the building was completely dismantled, and in its place the hotel “Ritz-Carlton” was soon erected.

Certainly, a small extension to the hotel “National” since the time of “Intourist” has always remained. David liked going out to smoke from the hotel down the street – the weather at the time was cool, but not bad. On the first day, he wandered down Gorky Street and on May 1st he participated with great interest in a festive event on Red Square. Passersby reacted with amazement to the red-haired musician, and KGB officers tirelessly controlled Bowie’s actions – far from sin. But the British eccentric, despite his extravagant appearance, was quite strict and reserved, although he admired the architecture of Moscow. After the parade, Bowie went for a walk along the Okhotny Ryad, along the surviving fragment of the Kitaygorod Wall and the National Hotel. A few days later, David left Moscow, but he was sure he would definitely return to this incredible city.

The comeback came exactly three years later – Bowie decided to make his friend Iggy Pop a truly exotic birthday present and called him after a tour to rest in Moscow. This time, the young people preferred to stay at the legendary child of Kekushev – the Metropol hotel, which was very predictable – both musicians were interested in history.

David Bowie and Iggy Pop stroll around Moscow, 1976
David Bowie and Iggy Pop stroll around Moscow, 1976

They arrived at the Belorussian station and spent a few hours at the Grand Georgian – photos of each other in kiosks and street lamps with newspapers, walking on two streets of Brest, in a word, they did not hurry to the hotel. After registration at the hotel Bowie organized a short tour of Moscow for Popu- the musicians walked along the street 25 anniversary of October (now – Nicholas), came to Red Square, Vasilyevsky downhill and reached the hotel “Russia” – one of the most important at that time, the hotels in the world. The Iggy Pop birthday, the company famous in the restaurant of the hotel “Metropol” – on stage playing the Soviet set, so that the evening to the heroes of Western rock music was more exotic. After a few days exploring the Moscow Soviet, the happy musicians left the USSR.

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THE GUARDS SET EVERYONE WHO TRIED TO GET UP AND DANCE

The next and, alas, Bowie’s last visit to the capital took place exactly twenty years later – in the summer of 1996. This time the musician is here in the capital with a concert. And this visit, unlike the previous two, was not too happy with Bowie. From the beginning, the actor did not like the gangster type bodyguards and the fact that the organizers have concocted the artist’s cultural program, without even being interested in his opinion. The concert, however, did not go well at all – there were safe spectators in the stalls, far from Bowie’s creativity; the main fans settled either on the other side of the balcony, or they could not afford expensive tickets. The guards sat everyone who tried to get up and dance – this discouraged the artiste. When, after unpleasant events, it turned out that Bowie had organized a dinner with representatives of Russian show business without his knowledge, the musician did not burst himself and went nowhere. Instead, he asked his assistants to go down to Bolshaya Gruzinskaya Street (Bowie was living at the Palace Hotel, which still works) and invite all the fans to come to the hotel. So suddenly for all, there was an impromptu “meet & greet” of Moscow fans and a British artist – Bowie was willingly photographed with girls and young people, generously given autographs, told interesting stories of life and shared his impressions of Moscow.

David Bowie in Moscow gives a concert, 1996
David Bowie in Moscow gives a concert, 1996

On this trip, David visited the Moscow Kremlin, but did not share his impressions. The third trip to Moscow disappointed Bowie. Nevertheless, until the end of his life, the musician always remembers with warmth and surprise this non-similar city, where he once photographed a demonstration and bought Soviet illustrated books in a stall.

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