David Bowie: three visits to Moscow

David Bowie has been to Moscow three times. Usually stars of this level came to the capital to perform in front of the Soviet public, but Bowie was in Russia not only with concerts. We recall how it was and what the legendary artist did not like.

All David Bowie's trips to Russia: how it was 

Among Western musicians, arrival in the USSR was considered something like a trip to the North Pole - a heroic step into the cold unknown. The stars came mostly to sing. Although, of course, there were exceptions. David Bowie with full confidence you can attributed to them.

David Bowie
David Bowie

Bowie gave an official concert already in post-Soviet Russia. And before that, he twice visited Moscow as a tourist. Or, given his fascination with dystopias, how researcher.

Nakhodka – Moscow

David Bowie
David Bowie

Bowie's first acquaintance with the USSR took place in 1973. He then returned home after concerts in Japan. Fear of flights, or maybe a craving for the exotic, forced David to sail on a ship from Yokohama to Nakhodka. From here, the musician has already reached Khabarovsk by train to transfer to the train to Moscow.

During eight day trip Bowie took many photographs, although he had never used photographic equipment before the trip. Looking out the window, admiring and marveling like a child at everything that floated outside the window: endless landscapes, colorful Siberians, pictures of Soviet life, the musician could not help but capture it for himself.

Bowie traveled with Jeff McCormack, and this is what he had to say about the train ride with Bowie:

“We often went out at the stations to warm up. Among the passengers on the train was an Englishwoman who jumped rope every time she got off the train. We bought fermented baked milk, eggs and other products, wine, beer. Even on the train, the same music sounded all the time - these were rehashings of the Beatles in bad English. It would be better if there was Russian music. While we were driving, we met Russian soldiers, some of them were quite young. We had drinks with them, and when we asked them what they did, they said they were in the construction battalions. The more we drank - and we drank vodka and beer - the better we understood each other.

David Bowie
David Bowie

Bowie has always been camera. The musician filmed non-stop. According to the recollections of fellow travelers, such activity aroused the suspicion of a certain "man in civilian clothes". The man went to Bowie, who was getting into the car, to select the film, but at that moment the train started to move.

Rumor has it that Bowie got off the train in Kirov. The reason was poisoning with pies bought by one of the fellow travelers at one of the sub-stations. David was taken to the infectious diseases department. But no confirmation this legend does not exist.

The musician stayed in Moscow for about three days. He visited Kremlin, Mausoleum, GUM. Bowie's biggest impression May Day demonstration on Red Square, which he even photographed from the window of his own room.

Jeff McCormack remembered This is true:

“In Moscow, David filmed the May Day parade from a hotel window with his new camera. I remember that there were a lot of French at that May parade and a lot of red flags.”

After that, David and Jeff left for Warsaw and from there to Paris. About McCormack's entire journey spoke out with great regret:

“It’s a pity that we didn’t shoot so much in Moscow. But when you're young, you have this attitude about everything that you think of doing a lot the next time you come back. And then you never come back."

But Bowie will be back, and not even once.

Iggy Pop's 29th birthday

David Bowie and Iggy Pop
David Bowie and Iggy Pop

Three years after traveling along the Trans-Siberian Railway, Bowie again comes to the capital of the USSR. This time in company Iggy Popa. Before that, the musicians visited West Berlin, where they planned to get rid of drug addiction.

The guests settled at the Metropol. In Moscow, Pop and Bowie went through the standard tourist route: Red Square, the Kremlin, GUM. by the most memorable event this visit was the celebration of Iggy's 29th birthday at the Metropol restaurant.

About this trip "grandfather of punk rock" remembered:

“The first thing I remember is how we are approaching the border with the USSR. Suddenly, a strange man in a bowler hat and round Lennon glasses appears from somewhere. The absolute spy from the Cold War movies! He comes up to us and says: “Hello! My name is Sergey, I am your guide from Intourist. Then I think: “Well, it begins!” After all, we didn’t even have visas then: our friends convinced us that we wouldn’t need them, we were transit passengers. So the border guards took a pair of Playboys from Bowie and ripped them into little pieces. David also had a book about Goebbels with him, which was also taken away. Then we were attacked by several overweight, but very energetic elderly men, who immediately began to beg us for American coins: 10 cents, 25 cents.

Bowie's first and only Moscow concert

David Bowie
David Bowie

Bowie arrived in Russia on an official visit in 1996. At first Bowie planned to come to Petersburg, but due to circumstances beyond his control couldn't fly out from Tokyo, and a concert at the festival "White Nights of St. Petersburg" had to be cancelled. But in the same year he performed in the Kremlin Palace and was dissatisfied with the Moscow public.

The musician was irritated by the organization of the concert. The scene of the Palace of Congresses in general didn't fit for such speeches: it would be more suitable for some official speeches of politicians. The organizers also set up tables in the first rows of the stalls for VIP guests and sold tickets to this zone at fabulous prices.

Naturally, "elite" places occupied "new Russians". In the words of one of the organizers of Bowie's visit to Moscow Artemy Troitsky, “behind them (tables) were “chicks” with “daddies”, who at that time were also talking on mobile phones.”

Most of them just came look to the "big star", which at that time were not so many. Some of the spectators did not even understand who was performing in front of them.

David Bowie
David Bowie

True admirers of David got up from the first song and did not sit down until the end of the performance. But that didn't change Bowie's overall impression. He said more will never come to Moscow, and noted that disgusting reception meets the public for the first time. The musician did not appear in Russia again, although after visits in the 70s he retained only positive impression.

The main organizer of that concert, Evgeny Boldin, said in an interview that Bowie's arrival turned out to be unprofitable. Not all tickets were sold out. Therefore, after 1996, no one dared to bring David to Russia.

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