Tag Archives: David Bowie

Bowie and Beyond: A Music Fan’s Guide to Berlin (BBC Radio 6 Music)

Brandenburger Tor - Brandenburg Gate at Night

Danny Robins’s programme for BBC Radio 6 Music’s Easter Weekend celebration of David Bowie is called Bowie and Beyond: A Music Fan’s Guide to Berlin but he goes all the way back to the Weimar era in his quest to understand why Berlin has made such a significant contribution to music.

This is about more than music though.  In this one hour radio documentary Robins also looks at the social and economic factors that shaped the city’s history.

Travelling to Berlin, through interviews with artists and producers, he tries to find out if Berlin attracts a certain kind of musician or if the city affects the music that those who are drawn to it create.

The usual suspects get airtime – David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Depeche Mode and U2 – but there is also an attempt to see beyond these artists to the contribution of seminal German bands like Die Toten Hosen and new artists such as Prinz Pi and Berlin-based Canadian, Peaches.

Click here to listen: Bowie and Beyond: A Music Fan’s Guide to Berlin

Famous Berliners: David Bowie

David Bowie - Where Are We Now? (screenshot from the Official Video)

Almost three weeks ago now, on his 66th birthday, David Bowie surprised everyone by releasing a new song – Where Are We Now? – a melancholy tune that reflects on his time living in Berlin in the 1970s.

Following the new single’s release my social media feeds were abuzz with (mainly positive) reactions and Berlin talked of its adoptive son, Bowie.

The feeling that history was made (good and bad) in its streets and the sense of following in the footsteps of others is one of the things that intrigues me about the city and hearing this song prompted me to go out and explore Bowie’s Berlin, something I’d been meaning to do since I arrived more than a year ago.

Many of the buildings where Bowie spent his time are, as you can imagine, non-descript, and some venues have changed name, appearance or no longer exist, but it was interesting to walk where he would have walked all the same.

Bowie’s Flat on Hauptstrasse

Bowie's Flat (Hauptstrasse 155) in Berlin

When David Bowie moved to Berlin in 1976 he found a flat in an Altbau at Hauptstrasse 155 in Schöneberg, which he shared with Iggy Pop.

Neues Ufer (formerly Anderes Ufer)

Neues Ufer (Anderes Ufer) - a Bowie haunt in Berlin

Next door to his former flat, at Hauptstrasse 157, is a café, Neues Ufer, which was known as Anderes Ufer in the days when Bowie and Iggy Pop would spend time there.

Chez Romy Haag

Chez Romy Haag, a nightclub run by the Dutch transsexual born Edouard Frans Verbaarsschott, was at the crossroads of Welserstrasse and Fuggerstrasse.  I haven’t been able to find a precise address so I could only guess which corner having visited.

Hansa Studios

Hansa Studios in Berlin - where David Bowie recorded Low and Heroes

Not far from Potsdamer Platz (written as Potzdamer Platz in the Where Are We Now? video) at Köthener Strasse 38 is Hansa Studios.

It was here in 1977 that Bowie, with Brian Eno, recorded Low and Heroes, two of the albums in what has become known as his Berlin Trilogy (though the third, Lodger was recorded in Switzerland).

It wasn’t until I read the many articles about his new single that I knew that one of his most celebrated songs, Heroes, is about a couple who kiss in the shadow of the Berlin Wall.

SO36

Bowie was apparently a fan of SO36, the legendary punk club on Kreuzberg’s Oranienstrasse.

Café Exil

Another former Bowie haunt that I visited but didn’t photograph was the Café Exil (now the restaurant Horváth) which had scaffolding erected for renovations.

Paris Bar

Paris Bar - a Bowie haunt in Berlin

Bowie liked to go to Paris Bar, the restaurant at Kantstrasse 152, when he was feeling extravagant and was in the mood to celebrate.

Dschungel

Ellington Hotel - where the Dschungel - a Bowie haunt in Berlin - was

It was presumably after a visit to Dschungel, another of his favourite hangouts and mentioned in his new song, that Bowie became ‘a man lost in time near KaDeWe’.

Dschungel was around the corner from Berlin’s luxury department store on Nürnberger Strasse (referred to as Nurnberger Strasse in the song) in the basement of what is now the Ellington Hotel, a building with a rich musical history.

The Brücke Museum

Bowie would visit this small museum on the edge of the Grunewald and admire the works of the expressionist painters housed here that provided the inspiration for the cover of Heroes.

I plan to visit the Brücke Museum later this week.

Bowie Events in Berlin

If you’re a Bowie fan and will be in Berlin in February you might want to get yourself along to a couple of events organised by avid fan, Mike T West.

There is a Feeling Gloomy Berlin Bowie Special at Roter Salon on 2 February – see the Facebook event page for more details.

Also Mike will be doing a Bowie Walk in Berlin on 16 February – see Gidsy for more info.

If by any chance you haven’t heard the song or reading about Bowie’s time in Berlin means you want to listen again, here it is:

David Bowie – Where Are We Now?