Off The Record: David Bowie

iHeartPodcasts

Off the Record is a new in-depth music biography series that profiles the extraordinary life of an iconic artist over the course of each season. Music journalist Jordan Runtagh (People, Rolling Stone, EW and VH1) offers a revelatory look at the human behind the hits through rich, dramatic storytelling, extensive research, and interviews with those who knew them best. You know the songs, now meet the legends. read less
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Episodes

Bonus Episode: 'Low' Engineer Edu Meyer Remembers Working with David Bowie During His Berlin Years at Hansa Studios
Apr 1 2021
Bonus Episode: 'Low' Engineer Edu Meyer Remembers Working with David Bowie During His Berlin Years at Hansa Studios
Our last two episodes followed David Bowie in the late ’70s as he recorded ‘Low’ and ‘Heroes,’ the twin pillars of his so-called Berlin Trilogy. (Sorry, ‘Lodger’ fans.) These records are an artistic triumph on nearly ever level, and contain the most innovative music Bowie ever made. In addition to co-producer Tony Visconti and mad musical scientist Brian Eno, another crucial collaborator during the German sessions was Edu Meyer. Edu was an engineer at Hansa Studios — the famous Hall by the Wall that served as David’s creative home during his time in Berlin. Edu helped David put the finishing touches on ‘Low,’ and even played the mournful cello part on “Weeping Wall” — inspired by the symbol of division and oppression looming just outside the studio windows. He also assisted on the album’s David produced for Iggy Pop, ‘The Idiot’ and ‘Lust for Life.’ Their working relationship stretched into the ‘80s, when David would return to Berlin to record the soundtrack to the Bertolt Brecht play ‘Baal’ in 1981, and perform his legendary 1987 concert at the Reichstag. They’d remain friends until the end of David’s life. Edu spoke to Jordan about his memories working alongside Bowie during his most creatively daring period.  Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Chapter Nine: The Thin White Duke (1976)
Mar 22 2021
Chapter Nine: The Thin White Duke (1976)
Today’s chapter is a portrait at The Thin White Duke, the manifestation of megalomania and paranoia that gripped David Bowie at his personal low. Among his most frightening creations, the icy character unveiled on the title track to 1976’s ‘Station to Station’ is the physical embodiment of the drug abuse and psychic darkness that threatened to destroy him following years of mired in the toxic hedonism of Hollywood. Thankfully, he would rescue himself from these dire circumstances and move back in Europe, ultimately settling in Berlin along with his friend (and fellow substance abuser) Iggy Pop. The city would be both his savior and muse, providing the right environment to purge the noxious influences of Los Angeles and foster some of his most daring musical achievements. With help from longtime co-producer Tony Visconti and new friend/synth enthusiast Brian Eno, Bowie abandoned the flashy theatricality of his past and rewrote his musical language — fusing his beloved R&B with the proto-techno sounds of German bands like of Neu! and Kraftwerk. The result, ‘Low,’ would rank among his greatest work, kicking off a stunning string of albums later dubbed ‘The Berlin Trilogy.’ But more impressive than his musical reinvention was his personal one. David curbed his drug use and enjoyed an anonymous life that approached a healthy sense of normalcy. “Berlin was my clinic,” he said years later. “It brought me back in touch with people. It got me back on the streets; not the street where everything is cold and there’s drugs, but the streets where there were young, intelligent people trying to get along.” The city had rescued him from the almost certain oblivion. Not only was Bowie growing leaps and bounds as an artist, but he was also making his first tentative steps towards peace.  Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Bonus Episode: Rock Legend Glenn Hughes Remembers Living with David Bowie During His Wild 'Station to Station' Era in 1975 Hollywood
Mar 17 2021
Bonus Episode: Rock Legend Glenn Hughes Remembers Living with David Bowie During His Wild 'Station to Station' Era in 1975 Hollywood
Our latest chapter of ‘Off The Records’ delves into a dark era for David Bowie: the months spent in Los Angeles in 1975. Famously subsisting on a diet of cocaine, milk and red peppers, he stayed awake for days at a time, driving himself to the brink of sanity through malnutrition and sleep deprivation. “It was a dangerous period for me,” David would later say. “I was at the end of my tether physically and emotionally and had serious doubts about my sanity.” But from the depths of his personal hell, he produced the landmark ‘Station to Station,’ an album that most fans rank among the best work he ever made. For the first few months of his stay, David lived with his friend Glenn Hughes, a rock icon in his own right. Glenn was in the midst of his tenure as the bass player for Deep Purple. They’d met in Hollywood the previous year, when the band was recording their hard rock epic ‘Stormbringer’ and David was in town to perform his Diamond Dogs extravaganza. The pair hit it off and stayed in touch. When David made the move from New York to LA to make his feature film debut in ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth’ a few months later, he decided to stay with Hughes to keep a low profile.The excesses of the period have gone down in rock lore. Witches exorcising pool. Phantom falling bodies. Nazi news reels on loop. Thankfully, both men made it out of the grips of addiction. David decamped to Berlin to push his music boundaries with albums like ‘Low’ and ‘Heroes.’ (But we’ll get to that.) Glenn Hughes continued to enjoy a remarkable run in Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, the supergroup Black Country Communion, and a host of solo projects. Most recently, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famer joined the group the Dead Daisies, who released their latest album ‘Holy Ground’ in January.Jordan spoke to Glenn about his new music and his time as David Bowie’s housemate back in 1975. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Bonus Episode: Ava Cherry Reflects on Her Life as David Bowie's Muse in the Mid '70s ‘Golden Years’
Mar 12 2021
Bonus Episode: Ava Cherry Reflects on Her Life as David Bowie's Muse in the Mid '70s ‘Golden Years’
In our latest chapter, David Bowie went from Starman to Soulman, trading high concept sci-fi tales and glam rock for the music that had enthralled him as a boy — rhythm and blues. David’s renewed love of R&B was stoked by his new girlfriend at the time, a striking young model and burgeoning singer named Ava Cherry. They’d met at a party in early 1973 and quickly hit it off. As she would later say, their romance had all the hallmarks of a fairy tale — strolls in Paris, nights in an elegant castle, cheering crowds, celebrity friends and lots of great songs. Sounds almost like a Disney movie — except for the fact that David was still technically married to his wife, Angie. That part’s a little different.Ava acted as Bowie’s guide through the American soul scene, fulfilling his lifelong dream by bringing him to Harlem’s legendary Apollo Theater. David’s renewed passion for soul led him to Philadelphia to cut the relentlessly funky Young Americans, which featured Ava on backing vocals. She also joined him onstage as part of the so-called ‘Philly Dogs’ tour in late 1974. In addition to her role in helping shape Bowie’s musical legacy, she shared his private life — loving a side of David that few would ever get to see. Ava spoke to Jordan about her time with David, and the memories and music that they shared during those golden years in the mid '70s. Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.comSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.