David Bowie may have been an alien rock star, who resided in New York with his Somali wife, who’s famous presence in cold war Germany helped to bring down the Berlin wall, however he was shaped by London.
Bowie’s home-town is an apt metaphor for his professional career, changing and developing relentlessly, throwing aside it’s rich history to create something pioneering and new. Despite these similarities, much of the London that created one of the most unique characters of modern memory still remains, and will remain forever as spiritual shrines to a man that has touched the lives of so many.
His birthplace in South London’s Brixton has already become a sea of flowers following his death, but it was central London’s bustling cultural magnets in the 1960’s that shaped the Bowie we think of today.
Denmark Street, where Bowie spent a great deal of his early years has changed little when compared with much of London. Working next door to Rose Morris in Southern Music, and spending the rest of his time in Giaconda Coffee bar with the likes of Marc Bolan dreaming of stardom. This bustling music hub fanned the flames of Bowie’s love of music and art, dreaming of meeting his early hero Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones who recorded down the road at Regent Street Studios.
Known for its influence on the fashion in the “swinging sixties” Carnaby Street is where a young Bowie and Marc Bolan used to sift through clothing rejects, shaping both stars’ flamboyant stage styling.
Soho’s exuberant night-life has been recreated in Bowie’s music and image countless times, the sexuality, the in your face attitudes and the spectacle we associate with his many incarnations can still be seen in Soho, where he first made a name for himself as a star at the Marquee Club on Wardour Street.
Just down the road at Trident Studios is where “Space Oddity” and his breakthrough record “Ziggy Stardust” were made, and are as synonymous with those records as the likes of “Abbey Road”.
Although Ziggy Stardust as an album was created here, the character came to life in Regent Street, where it was first unveiled among much of his seminal “Hunky Dory” album. This is also where he famously announced to the world “I’m gay and I always have been”.
There is no doubt that Bowie’s influence stretches to every corner of the world, but it is hard to imagine the performer we know without the aspects of him that this fair city helped to shape.