Frequently Asked Questions

Why did David Bowie choose to live in Berlin?

David Bowie chose to live in Berlin pri­mar­i­ly to escape the excess­es of fame and his per­son­al strug­gles with sub­stance abuse in the Unit­ed States. Berlin offered him a more afford­able and low-key lifestyle, which allowed him to focus on his music and per­son­al recov­ery. Addi­tion­al­ly, the city’s avant-garde art scene and the influ­ence of elec­tron­ic and exper­i­men­tal music were appeal­ing to Bowie, influ­enc­ing his cre­ative direc­tion and pro­vid­ing him with the artis­tic inspi­ra­tion he need­ed at that time in his life.

For many years Berlin had appealed to me as a sort of sanc­tu­ary-like sit­u­a­tion. It was one of the few cities where I could move around in vir­tu­al anonymi­ty. I was going broke; it was cheap to live. For some rea­son, Berlin­ers just didn’t care. Well, not about an Eng­lish rock singer, any­way.”

David Bowie, Uncut, 1999

When did David Bowie move to Berlin?

David Bowie moved to Berlin in Sep­tem­ber 1976. He remained in Berlin until July 1979 and spent approx­i­mate­ly three years in the city.

Where did David Bowie live in Berlin?

Ini­tial­ly, Bowie stayed at the Hotel Ger­hus, which is now known as the Schlosshotel im Grunewald. How­ev­er, he soon moved to the live­li­er neigh­bor­hood of Schöneberg. In Schöneberg, he rent­ed an apart­ment in an old­er art nou­veau-style apart­ment block at Haupt­straße 155, 10827 Berlin.

What albums did David Bowie produce during his time in Berlin?

David Bowie pro­duced two of his albums dur­ing his time in Berlin:

  1. Low (1977): Released in Jan­u­ary 1977, “Low” marked the begin­ning of Bowie’s Berlin peri­od. It fea­tures a com­bi­na­tion of elec­tron­ic and ambi­ent sounds, influ­enced by the Berlin music scene and his col­lab­o­ra­tion with Bri­an Eno.
  2. “Heroes” (1977): Released in Octo­ber 1977, “Heroes” con­tin­ued Bowie’s explo­ration of elec­tron­ic and exper­i­men­tal music.

While Lodger is com­mon­ly regard­ed as the con­clud­ing install­ment of the “Berlin Tril­o­gy”, it was large­ly record­ed at Moun­tain Stu­dios in Mon­treux, Switzer­land. The album was then com­plet­ed with addi­tion­al record­ing ses­sions at the Record Plant in New York City.

Dur­ing his time in Berlin, David Bowie also col­lab­o­rat­ed with Iggy Pop, pro­duc­ing two of Iggy’s albums that are often asso­ci­at­ed with the Berlin era: “The Idiot” (1977), which marked Iggy Pop’s depar­ture from punk rock with Bowie’s sig­nif­i­cant pro­duc­tion influ­ence, and “Lust for Life” (1977), known for its raw ener­gy and the icon­ic title track.

Who did David Bowie collaborate with in Berlin?

David Bowie’s col­lab­o­ra­tions in Berlin dur­ing the late 1970s includ­ed Tony Vis­con­ti, who served as a pro­duc­er, help­ing Bowie exper­i­ment with sound and pro­duc­tion tech­niques. Bri­an Eno, a pio­neer of ambi­ent music, played a key role in push­ing Bowie to explore elec­tron­ic and avant-garde ele­ments in his music. Addi­tion­al­ly, Bowie’s part­ner­ship with Iggy Pop result­ed in the co-writ­ing and pro­duc­tion of two of Iggy’s albums, show­cas­ing their com­bined cre­ative syn­er­gy and influ­ence on the era’s music scene.

Did David Bowie learn to speak German?

Yes, David Bowie made an effort to grasp enough Ger­man to engage in basic com­mu­ni­ca­tion dur­ing his time in Berlin. His moti­va­tion was to bet­ter inte­grate into the Berlin music scene and con­nect with the city’s peo­ple and cul­ture. Over the years, there have been sev­er­al occa­sions where he demon­strat­ed his abil­i­ty to engage in brief con­ver­sa­tions in the Ger­man lan­guage.

What are the must-visit Bowie locations in Berlin?

Hansa Stu­dios played a sig­nif­i­cant role in David Bowie’s career dur­ing the late 1970s. Bowie record­ed some of his most icon­ic albums there, includ­ing “Heroes” and “Low”. Fans from around the world vis­it this his­toric record­ing stu­dio to pay homage to Bowie’s cre­ative genius. There are occa­sion­al tours of Hansa Stu­dios. For more details, vis­it this web­site.

Just a few kilo­me­tres away lies Haupt­straße 155, the for­mer res­i­dence of Bowie dur­ing his stay in Berlin. While the build­ing itself is a pri­vate res­i­dence, fans often come to the neigh­bor­hood to get a glimpse of the place where Bowie once lived. Next door to Bowie’s for­mer res­i­dence, you’ll find the Neues Ufer. Bowie was a reg­u­lar patron of this cozy café, and it con­tin­ues to wel­come vis­i­tors today.

There are sev­er­al oth­er loca­tions in Berlin that remain open to vis­i­tors to this day. Among them is the Brücke Muse­um, renowned for its exten­sive col­lec­tion of Expres­sion­ist art. Just a stone’s throw away, nes­tled with­in the serene Grunewald for­est, lies the Forsthaus Pauls­born, where Bowie and Iggy Pop occa­sion­al­ly enjoyed meals in a tran­quil set­ting.

The Kaufhaus des West­ens, or “KaDeWe” (Ger­man for ‘Depart­ment Store of the West’), one of Europe’s largest and most pres­ti­gious depart­ment stores, offers a glimpse into the upscale shop­ping expe­ri­ence Bowie enjoyed dur­ing his Berlin days. Just a short dis­tance from KaDeWe, locat­ed by the Savignyplatz—a charm­ing square sur­round­ed by a pletho­ra of cafes, restau­rants, bou­tiques, and art gal­leries, lies the Paris Bar, a cher­ished hang­out fre­quent­ed by Bowie and his com­pan­ions.

Did Bowie write an autobiography about his time in Berlin?

While Bowie did not write a ded­i­cat­ed auto­bi­og­ra­phy, there are books about him that explore his life and career dur­ing his time in Berlin. Some of these books include “David Bowie: A Life” (2017) by Dylan Jones, “Bowie in Berlin: A New Career in a New Town” (2008) by Thomas Jerome Seabrook, and “Heroes: David Bowie and Berlin” (2008) by Tobias Rüther.