Heroes ' ' is a song by English musician David Bowie, written by Bowie and Brian Eno. Produced by Bowie and Tony Visconti, it was recorded in July and August 1977. NME.COM brings you the latest music news and reviews, along with music videos and galleries, plus band features, blogs on your favourite artists, concert tickets.
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The Invention of David Bowie . Up to a point. There is no question that Bowie changed the way many people looked, in the 1. Fashion designers—Alexander Mc. Queen, Yamamoto Kansai, Dries van Noten, Jean Paul Gaultier, et al.—were inspired by him. Bowie’s extraordinary stage costumes, from Kabuki- like bodysuits to Weimar- era drag, are legendary. Young people all over the world tried to dress like him, look like him, move like him—alas, with rather variable results. So it is entirely fitting that the Victoria and Albert Museum should stage a huge exhibition of Bowie’s stage clothes, as well as music videos, handwritten song lyrics, film clips, artworks, scripts, storyboards, and other Bowieana from his personal archive.
Apart from everything else, Bowie’s art is about style, high and low, and style is a serious business for a museum of art and design. One of the characteristics of rock music is that so much of it involves posing, or “role- playing,” as they say in the sex manuals. Rock is above all a theatrical form. English rockers have been particularly good at this, partly because many of them, including Bowie himself, have drawn inspiration from the rich tradition of music hall theater. If Chuck Berry was a godfather of British rock, so was the vaudevillian Max Miller, the “cheeky chappie,” in his daisy- patterned suits. But there is another reason: rock and roll being American in origin, English musicians often started off mimicking Americans.
More than that, in the 1. English boys imitated black Americans. Then there was the matter of class: working- class English kids posing as aristocratic fops, and solidly middle- class young men affecting Cockney accents. And the gender- bending: Mick Jagger wriggling his hips like Tina Turner, Ray Davies of the Kinks camping it up like a pantomime dame, David Bowie dressing like Marlene Dietrich and shrieking like Little Richard.
And none of them was gay, at least not most of the time. Rock, English rock especially, has often seemed like a huge, anarchic dressing- up party. No one took this further, with more imagination and daring, than David Bowie. At a time when American groups would often dress down—affluent suburban kids disguised as Appalachian farmers or Canadian lumberjacks—Bowie quite deliberately dressed up. In his words: “I can’t stand the premise of going out .
I mean, it’s not normal!” Also in his words: “My whole professional life is an act. And many are outrageously beautiful.
The red- and- blue quilted suit and red plastic boots designed by Freddie Burretti for Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust character in 1. Yamamoto Kansai’s kimono- like cape splashed with Bowie’s name in Chinese characters for Aladdin Sane in 1. Natasha Korniloff’s surrealistic cobweb bodysuit with false black- nail- polished hands tickling the nipples for the 1.
Floor Show. Ola Hudson’s black pants and waistcoat for Bowie’s incarnation as the Thin White Duke in 1. And Alexander Mc. Queen’s exquisitely “distressed” Union Jack frock coat from 1. Anglomania” show at the Metropolitan Museum).
Then there is the perverse nautical gear, and the “Tokyo pop” black vinyl bodysuit, the matador cape, the blue turquoise boots, and so on and on. Bowie’s image was as carefully contrived for album covers as for the actual musical performances: Sukita Masayoshi’s black- and- white photograph of Bowie posing like a mannequin doll on the cover of “Heroes” (1. Bowie stretched out on a blue velvet sofa like a Pre- Raphaelite pinup in a long satin dress designed by Mr. Fish for The Man Who Sold the World (1. Guy Peellaert’s lurid drawing of Bowie as a 1. Diamond Dogs (1. 97.
All these images were created by Bowie himself, in collaboration with other artists. He drew his inspiration from anything that happened to catch his fancy: Christopher Isherwood’s Berlin of the 1. Hollywood divas of the 1. Kabuki theater, William Burroughs, English mummers, Jean Cocteau, Andy Warhol, French chansons, Bu. Artists and filmmakers have often created interesting results by refining popular culture into high art. Bowie did the opposite: he would, as he once explained in an interview, plunder high art and take it down to the street; that was his brand of rock- and- roll theater. What has been truly unusual about Bowie, in comparison to other rock acts, is the lightning speed of his costume changes, as it were.
His musical changes reflected this, from the throbbing rhythm of the early Velvet Underground to the harsh dissonances of Kurt Weill, to the disco beat of 1. Philadelphia. The range of his singing voice, aching in some songs, full of bravura in others, but always haunted by a sense of danger, helped him straddle many genres.
To get the excitement of Bowie’s best live performances, one would have had to be there, but the artful videos, made by Bowie with various talented filmmakers, some of which are displayed to great effect at the V& A show, still give a flavor of his theatrical appeal. Two of the most famous videos are “Ashes to Ashes” (1. Boys Keep Swinging” (1. David Mallet. Bowie plays three roles in “Ashes to Ashes”: an astronaut, a man curled up in a padded cell, and a tragic Pierrot tormented by his mother. In “Boys Keep Swinging,” Bowie appears as a late 1.
Hollywood diva drag: two end up whipping their wigs off in a kind of fury; one turns into a rather menacing maternal figure. A common feature in Bowie’s videos, as well as his stage shows, is an obsession with masks and mirrors, sometimes several mirrors at the same time: his characters watch themselves being watched. In his earlier interviews, Bowie spoke often about schizophrenia. Stage roles would spill out into his personal life. As he put it: “I couldn’t decide whether I was writing characters or whether the characters were writing me.”2. So who is David Bowie? He was born in 1.
David Jones in Brixton, South London, but grew up mostly in Bromley, a relatively genteel and deeply dreary suburb.