David Bowie, the influential and eclectic singer-songwriter who died of cancer Sunday at 69, was no stranger to the Maryland area. As Baltimore artists found ways to mourn the loss of a rock 'n' roll great on Monday, we opened the archives to remember Bowie's local appearances throughout his career, which spanned nearly five decades.
In November 1974, Bowie, along with collaborator Mike Garson and his band, headlined the Capital Centre in Largo. The Baltimore Sun's review by Bob Goald begins, "In this day and age of sagging economies, it seems that Great Britain's most lucrative export item to this country is rock 'n' roll. Witness the 8,000 persons last Monday night paying upward of $8.50 a ticket to listen to the English rock superstar, David Bowie, at the Capital Centre in Largo, Md."
Nearly a decade later, Bowie returned to the Capital Centre for two dates in August 1983 for his "Serious Moonlight" tour.
In July 1990, Bowie spoke to The Sun as a preview to his two Merriweather Post Pavilion shows that month. A week before the show, pavilion seats had sold out, but lawn tickets, priced at $18.50, were still available. From a Philadelphia hotel room, Bowie explained why he was distancing himself from earlier hits such as “Space Oddity” and “Fame.”
“[I]t’s not really been a big thing with me to try and please audiences that much. I don’t feel much like an audience-pleaser. I much prefer it if they want to come along and see what I’m doing right now — and either like it or shove it,” Bowie told The Sun.
Bowie also gave an interview to The Sun from London in November 1991. He would be at Washington’s Citadel Center in less than a week with his band Tin Machine. The band, which featured the sons of entertainer Soupy Sales, played a more aggressive style of rock ‘n’ roll than Bowie fans were used to at the time.
“We knew we weren't making puff pastries," Bowie told The Sun. "This is not music to get up and have breakfast to by any means. And we're not the most comfortable band in the world to watch. If you're looking for a dance band, we ain't it."
[Jan. 13 update: A reader points out Bowie brought his "A Reality Tour" to the Patriot Center in Fairfax, Va., on May 16, 2004.]
In October 1995, Bowie and Nine Inch Nails co-headlined a tour that brought the popular acts to Nissan Pavilion at Stone Ridge (now Jiffy Lube Live) in Bristow, Va.
He would return to the D.C. area twice more in the coming years. In September 1996, Bowie performed at Washington's Capitol Ballroom as part of a four-date mini “ballroom” tour.
The following year in October, Bowie returned to the same venue for a headlining show in support of his album “Earthling.” (The Sun spoke to Bowie before that show for a piece that can be read fully here.)
As Bowie’s death shocked artists and fans around the world Monday, members of the local arts community responded in various ways.
WTMD-FM, Towson University’s public radio station, is playing Bowie music throughout the day as a tribute.
Baltimore artist Alex Fine caught wind of WTMD’s tribute, and announced on his Facebook page that he would send a high-resolution, print-ready file of a Bowie/Ziggy Stardust illustration he created a few years ago to anyone who donates to WTMD. In the replies, Fine clarified that the deal was “completely unsolicited from WTMD. I just wanted to support them!”
On social media, Baltimore musicians expressed condolences for Bowie.
Bond St. District’s DDm posted a black-and-white Bowie image on Instagram with the caption “RIP KING. HUGS TO IMAN. #DAVIDBOWIE.”
On Facebook, Ed Schrader of Ed Schrader's Music Beat called Bowie "my hero." He included a link to his 2014 essay on the documentary "David Bowie Is" for the website the Talkhouse. Today, the Talkhouse published thoughts on Bowie from Drew Daniel, the Baltimore musician in Matmos and the Johns Hopkins University professor.
Bowie's death comes two days after the artist released "Blackstar," his 25th album. Chicago Tribune critic Greg Kot gave the record 3.5 stars out of 4.
"['Blackstar'] makes no attempt to echo the singer's past. Instead, it suggests that at age 69, Bowie remained focused on the future and all its uncertainty," Kot wrote.
Looking forward, a Bowie-related concert this week now has added significance. Already scheduled for Thursday, Holy Holy — a band featuring Bowie collaborators Woody Woodmansey and Tony Visconti — will perform Bowie's album “The Man Who Sold the World” in its entirety at The Birchmere in Alexandria, Va. Woodmansey and Visconti both played on the 1970 album. Tickets are available here.
UPDATE: Another show, "An American Musicians Fund for Musicians Tribute to David Bowie," was just announced for Jan. 20 at Annapolis' Rams Head on Stage. Doors open at 6 p.m. 21+. Tickets are available here.