Saturday marks the 40th anniversary of David Bowie‘s 1976 masterpiece, Station to Station. Recorded in Los Angeles during vampire hours, the wildly experimental album caught Bowie as he was evolving at a breakneck pace. “Young Americans” and “Fame” were still all over the radio when the sessions began, but this time around, he was embracing German electronic acts like Kraftwerk — and indulging in truly insane amounts of cocaine. He later claimed this was the single worst time in his life and that he couldn’t even remember most of it, but somehow or another, he created an album that sounds bold and innovative even four decades later.
Bowie wasn’t doing many interviews at this time, but Cameron Crowe managed to shadow him for a few crazy days as he recorded Station to Station, attempted to cut an album with Iggy Pop, hung out with Ron Wood and delivered biting rants about any topic imaginable. Reading the article today almost gives you the sensation of doing coke yourself. Here are seven wild quotes from the piece, which you can read in full right here.
He liked “fast drugs”
“I never got into acid either. I did it three or four times and it was colorful, but my own imagination was already richer. I never got into grass at all. Hash for a time, but never grass. I guess drugs have been a part of my life for the past 10 years, but never anything very heavy … I’ve had short flirtations with smack and things, but it was only for the mystery and the enigma. I like fast drugs. I hate anything that slows me down.”
He would have been a “bloody good Hitler”
“I fell for Ziggy too. It was quite easy to become obsessed night and day with the character. I became Ziggy Stardust. David Bowie went totally out the window. Everybody was convincing me that I was a messiah, especially on that first American tour. I got hopelessly lost in the fantasy. I could have been Hitler in England. Wouldn’t have been hard. Concerts alone got so enormously frightening that even the papers were saying, ‘This ain’t rock music, this is bloody Hitler! Something must be done!’ And they were right. It was awesome. Actually, I wonder … I think I might have been a bloody good Hitler. I’d be an excellent dictator. Very eccentric and quite mad.”
The Spiders From Mars “bored” him
“I gave them more life than I intended. And I was also getting honestly bored. There’s only so much you can do with that kind of a band. I wanted no more to do with that loud thing. Hurt my ears. Wasn’t pleasing my mind too much either. Since then, poor Mick [Ronson] has completely missed his vocation. From his faulty solo career right on down. I’ve been disappointed. He could have been amazing. I just don’t know. Christ, I haven’t spoken properly with him in years. I wonder if he’s changed.”
He felt that rock & roll was “the devil’s music”
“Rock & roll has been really bringing me down lately. It’s in great danger of becoming an immobile, sterile fascist that constantly spews its propaganda on every arm of the media. It rules and dictates a level of thought and clarity of intelligence that you’ll never raise above. You don’t have a fucking chance to hear Beethoven on any radio station anymore. You’ve got to listen to the O’Jays. I mean, disco music is great. I used disco to get my first Number One single [“Fame”] but it’s an escapist’s way out. It’s musical soma. Rock & roll too — it will occupy and destroy you that way. It lets in lower elements and shadows that I don’t think are necessary. Rock has always been the devil’s music. You can’t convince me that it isn’t.”
Admitting he was bisexual was a career move
“I remember the first time it got out. Somebody asked me in an interview if I ever had a gay experience and I said, ‘Yes, of course, I am a bisexual.’ The guy didn’t know what I meant. He gave me this horrified look of ‘Oh, my God, that means he’s got a cock and a cunt.’ I had no idea my sexuality would get so widely publicized. It was just a very sort of off-the-cuff little remark. Best thing I ever said, I suppose.”
He viewed Mick Jagger as “harmless” and “bourgeois”
“[Mick’s] not unlike Elton John, who represents the token queen — like Liberace used to. … He represents the sort of harmless, bourgeois kind of evil that one can accept with a shrug.”
He thought he was “finished” with rock music
“It’s interesting how this all started. At the time I did Aladdin Sane, all I had was a small cult audience in England from Hunky Dory. I think it was out of curiosity that I began wondering what it would be like to be a rock & roll star. So basically, I wrote a script and played it out as Ziggy Stardust onstage and on record. I mean it when I say I didn’t like all those albums — Aladdin Sane, Pin Ups, Diamond Dogs, David Live. It wasn’t a matter of liking them, it was ‘Did they work or not?’ Yes, they worked. They kept the trip going. Now. I’m all through with rock & roll. Finished. I’ve rocked my roll. It was great fun while it lasted but I won’t do it again.”