David Bowie • Interview • Hotel de L’Europe • Amsterdam, Holland • 14 October 1977
Here is a new 30-minute version of the interview with David Bowie, at the Hotel de L’Europe in Amsterdam, on the 14th of October 1977.
After recording and mixing the “Heroes” material in July and August 1977, Bowie went on a 2-month promotional tour around Europe. He recorded performances and interviews for TV shows, shot the “Heroes” video and TV Ads, and he met with the press. It was unprecedented for Bowie to do so much promotion, especially since earlier in ‘77, he’d done virtually none for the Low album. The tour started in the UK on September 7th, recording the Marc Bolan TV show.
The final leg of the tour began in Hilversum, Holland on October 13th, with a Gold Disc presentation and a performance of “Heroes” for the TV show TopPop (David Bowie • AVRO TopPop • October 13th 1977 https://vimeo.com/291475113).
The following day, Bowie gave interviews for the Dutch press in Amsterdam. Of all the filmed material from the tour, it is this almost uninterrupted 30-minute interview that gives us the most comprehensive view of the “Heroes” era Bowie. And in fact, it is one of the most substantial filmed Bowie interviews from the ‘70’s.
“This is the first time I’ve done this kind of interview for an album. And I must be quite honest; the reason I’m doing it is because I want to give the album every chance that it can get.”
Elly de Waard, another interviewer on the day, wrote in 1977 (trans. from Dutch):
“David Bowie is sitting on a couch in a suite of Hotel de L’Europe in Amsterdam… (He) is dressed in a pale yellow T-shirt with a Chinese character on the chest, (“It’s Hong Kong Chinese,” he says at a question from me), khaki tapered trousers… and natural leather boots.
It’s ’77, so needless to say, Bowie looks great. The T-shirt he’s wearing, supposedly “borrowed” from John Lennon, has the character 武 (Pron. “Wu”, meaning martial, fierce, valiant). And his footwear is a pair of dark green wooden clogs.
Bowie’s mind is moving fast in the interview. So fast, that he’s sometimes trying to second-guess the questions, and answer them without perhaps having fully understood them. When he talks about the inspiration for the “Heroes” lyrics (we know now) he’s telling an elaborate fiction. He doesn’t seem too happy to be reminded of some of his “half-baked” (Bowie’s own term) philosophies and statements from the past. And he is at times perhaps unnecessarily combatant with the two interviewers. During the interview, Bowie is drinking his favorite L.A. days white fluid, and he quite frequently takes sharp sniffs. So it would not be unreasonable to surmise that he’d had a relapse, and was back on the white powder too. However, Elly de Waard provides us with the likely reason for the aforementioned behavior. Again, from her ’77 article:
“(Bowie) has a fever because he had a typhoid injection the day before…
Because he has a fever, he speaks very quickly and almost constantly… Bowie says his head is like a rubber ball that shrinks and expands with the room and makes him feel like he’s just smoked very strong hashish. “Give me another one!” He calls almost comically to an imaginary person behind his back.
However, he just smokes the Gitanes, which have been part of his image for several years, and he borrows my lighter because his own was pocketed by the previous visitor. Finally, he will keep mine and I gladly grant him that; I consider it a minor remedy for the beautifully embroidered futuristic jacket that I took from him at a meeting in February 1974.”
Elly de Waard famously knicked Bowie’s Freddie Burretti jacket at the 1974 Amsterdam press conference because, she said, she was angered that he wouldn’t grant her an interview. Later, she titled her memoir, Het Jasje van David Bowie (“David Bowie’s Jacket”).
After the press conference that day, Bowie left for Paris and continued his promotional duties there and then in London. On October the 21st he flew to Kenya with his son Zowie (Duncan). He talks of the Kenya trip in his interview with Flo and Eddie in New York a few weeks later.
There is one photo of Bowie in Kenya. He’s with two Masai tribe people, and he is wearing the same green clogs he wore in the Amsterdam interview. He is also wearing them in the June ’77 Hong Kong shot with John Lennon, in which Lennon is wearing the 武 T-shirt.
RKO interview outtakes • 14 October 1977
“Het Pop Gebeuren” • TV broadcast • 6 November 1977
David Bowie KRO Interview • Radio Broadcast • November 1977
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