In 1974, Daivd Bowie reinvented himself yet again, with the release of Diamond Dogs. Out went the make-up and stockings, in came the fitted suits and elaborate stage shows with huge sets, choreographed by Toni Basil. There was a sense of cabaret from Berlin circa the 1920’s and 30’s, with avant-garde touches that created a mood that was like a modern film noir.
During one scene, while singing at the top of an office tower, Bowie was lowered in a cherry picker that extended out into the audience about 40 feet from stage. This was the first time a cherry picker had ever been used on stage, hidden through lighting, except for the red office chair Bowie was sitting in. This gave him the illusion of floating through space. Dress in elegant suits, he sang to the audience. He also sang to a sunglass adorned skull that was on stage, with red suit jacket hanging off his shoulder, and a white dress shirt with ruffles on the collar.
Bowie had gotten away from androgyny and had begun a new form of cabaret, which influenced the direction his career was heading in the 1980’s. Due to years of over-spending to show off his glam rock star look, and all the elaborate stage shows, he was broke by the end of the Diamond Dogs tour.
Bowie’s first acting role was in ‘Man who fell to Earth’ by Nicola Roeg. The director claims that Bowie took aspects of the character and brought him into his life. Bowie remembers taking the clothes and using it for stage shows during his Station tour.
For ‘Back to basics’, Bowie left L.A. and moved to Berlin to get a new focus and direction. He moved from his Bel Air mansion, leaving behind its contents and most of his entourage, paring down to just a handful of people. Bowie encouraged Iggy Pop to move to Berlin at the same time, because he also needed a change.
They shared an apartment in Schöneberg. Heroes was made in a studio near a gun turret, which created the atmosphere that brought a new sound and tension to the album. Bowie was involved in co-writing and also played on Iggy Pop’s first two albums, ‘Lust for life’ and ‘The Idiot’. He also acted in “Just a Gigalo”.
In the 1980’s, he released “Ashes to Ashes” which charted #1. Bowie revisited the character Major Tom from “Space Oddity”. He involved the New Romantic movement that was emerging in London, and attracted a worldwide audience. Steve Strange, who was involved in running The Blitz club and had a huge influence on the London music scene, styled Bowie for the video “Ashes to Ashes” and acted in it as well.
Acting credits in the 1980’s included starring in Broadway’s “Elephant Man”, in “Christine F” as himself, and in “The Hunger” as a vampire. In “Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence” he was a prisoner in an internment camp, and he had a cameo in “Yellow Beard”. He was asked to play a villain in “View to a Kill” but turned it down. Bowie was also in the rock musical “Absolute Beginners” and although the movie did not do well, the title track he created for the film hit #2 in the U.K.
The same year , he starred in “Labyrinth” as King of the goblins, and wrote 5 songs. He released “Never Let Me Down” during ‘The Glass Spider Tour’, which was a combination of his current songs as well as older classic ones. This was a theatrical tour which involved dancers and visuals that suited the stadium rock trend. After the tour, he portrayed Pontius Pilate in “The Last Temptation of Christ”.
Part 3 coming soon…