Kur­fürs­ten­damm in 1978
© Her­mann Grub via Wiki­me­dia Com­mons, CC BY-SA 4.0

The Kur­fürs­ten­damm (col­lo­qui­al­ly Ku’­damm) is one of the most famous avenues in the city. The broad, long boule­vard can be con­sid­ered the Champs-Élysées of Berlin and is lined with shops, hous­es, hotels and restau­rants.

In an inter­view with the BBC, Bowie said that his song “Always Crash­ing In The Same Car” was writ­ten about an inci­dent that occurred on Kur­fürs­ten­damm.

I wrote that in Berlin, in the mid to late Sev­en­ties. […] The full sto­ry is rather alarm­ing. I’m not sure if I should tell it or not.

It involved a coke deal­er whose car I saw on the Kur­fürs­ten­damm in Berlin one day, and I’d got it into my mind that he screwed me over a deal. My very good friends Iggy Pop and Coco Schwab had clubbed togeth­er and bought me a real­ly cheap but love­ly Mer­cedes, 1954 I think it was. You know the ones with rab­bit skin around the steer­ing wheel? So delight­ful. It didn’t have a floor! It was all very rust­ed. We were all very broke in those days. It was a bit like a ped­al car, if your feet went through. It was quite dicey.

So I was dri­ving that and I saw this guy, let’s call him Johan, in the car. And I was so crazed I start­ed ram­ming him in the Kur­fürs­ten­damm, in day­light, in, like, 12 o’clock in the day. And I rammed him and I rammed him, and I was ram­ming him, He looked around and I could see he was mor­tal­ly ter­ri­fied for his life. I’m not sur­prised. I rammed him for a good, it must have been a good five to ten min­utes, which is a very long time actu­al­ly. Nobody stopped me. Nobody did any­thing. And I got out of it, ‘What am I doing?’

That night every­thing came to a kind of a spir­i­tu­al impasse, you know? And I real­ly was down in a hotel garage, and I start­ed going round and round, just like a movie I’d seen. I thought, ‘Oh, this is so Kirk Dou­glas in that film [Two Weeks In Anoth­er Town] where he lets go of the steer­ing wheel.’ [laughs] You can tell what kind of con­di­tion I was in. Or what con­di­tion my con­di­tion was in. So I start­ed going round and round, faster and faster. And then I let go. And as I let go I ran out of petrol. I just slow­ly came to a stop! I thought, ‘Oh God, this is the sto­ry of my life.’ As it hap­pens, things picked up after that! [laughs]

– David Bowie, BBC Radio The­atre, 27 June 2000

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