Ashes to ashes: Berlin bids farewell to David Bowie

15th January 2016, Comments 0 comments

Hundreds of David Bowie fans flocked to a memorial event Friday for the pioneering rock artist in the Berlin studio where he recorded three of his landmark albums.

In a bittersweet, emotional atmosphere, they grieved and celebrated the life of Bowie, who succumbed to a secret battle with cancer Sunday, at Hansa Studios next to where the Berlin Wall once divided the city.

On stage in the densely packed, wood-panelled hall stood a large photo of a smiling Bowie framed by white roses, church candles and a message that read "We can be heroes, forever and ever".

It's the refrain of the Cold War anthem "Heroes" which Bowie recorded during the three years he spent in the city, broke and trying to kick cocaine and liquor addictions, with his friend, US rock musician Iggy Pop.

Many fans Friday spoke in awe of Bowie, and said his death at 69 touched them like that of a close friend or family member.

"He did everything and he never stopped. He never stopped challenging himself or his audience, and I think that's incredibly special," said Ruth Bartlett, 33, a Berlin-based designer from London.

"I mean when you look at today's artists, no-one is pushing it like that."

When she learnt of Bowie's death, she and many friends were "completely heartbroken. All of Monday, everyone was just messaging each other, constantly and just really in pieces.

"I've never seen anything like it. It's almost embarrassing. I haven't cried like that in the longest time."

Recording in the studio beside the Wall, Bowie once famously spied a couple locked in a passionate embrace, which inspired a line in Heroes:

"I can remember/Standing by the wall/And the guns shot above our heads/And we kissed, as though nothing could fall."

Two years before the Wall fell in 1989, Bowie performed before the Reichstag building, as fans massed on the other side of the Cold War-era divide shouting "the Wall must go", before they were beaten by truncheon-wielding East German police.

Bowie stunned Berlin again when he released a new single on his 66th birthday, "Where Are We Now?", which featured a video showcasing the Reichstag building, Potsdamer Platz and his old West Berlin flat.

When the world Monday learnt of Bowie's death, Germany's foreign ministry tweeted: "Good-bye David Bowie. You are now among #Heroes. Thank you for helping to bring down the #wall."

© 2016 AFP

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