Bowie on Hitler, Dylan, Dean, Drugs & Love
(From Cameron Crowe’s infamous Playboy interview with David Bowie, circa September 1976.)
BOWIE ON HITLER
BOWIE: Rock stars are fascists. Adolf Hitler was one of the first rock stars.
PLAYBOY: How so?
BOWIE: Think about it. Look at some of his films and see how he moved. I think he was quite as good as Jagger. It’s astounding. And boy, when he hit that stage, he worked an audience. Good God! He was no politician. He was a media artist. He used politics and theatrics and created this thing that governed and controlled the show for 12 years. The world will never see his like again. He staged a country [...] People aren’t very bright, you know? They say they want freedom, but when they get the chance, they pass up Nietzsche and choose Hitler because he would march into a room to speak and music and lights would come on at strategic moments. It was rather like a rock ‘n roll concert. The kids would get very excited – girls got hot and sweaty and guys wished it was them up there. That, for me, is the rock ‘n roll experience.
BOWIE ON LOVE
BOWIE: “Never been in love, to speak of. I was in love once, maybe, and it was an awful experience. It rotted me, drained me, and it was a disease. Hateful thing, it was. Being in love is something that breeds brute anger and jealousy, everything but love, it seems. It’s a bit like Christianity…”
BOWIE ON DYLAN
PLAYBOY: You’re not noted for cordial relationships with other artists. Yet there was the rumor that you flew to Europe to spend a sabbatical with Bob Dylan. What about it?
BOWIE: That’s a beaut. I haven’t even left this bloody country in years. I saw Dylan in New York seven, eight months ago. We don’t have a lot to talk about. We’re not great friends. Actually, I think he hates me.
PLAYBOY: Under what circumstances did you meet?
BOWIE: Very bad ones. We went back to somebody’s house after some gig at a club. We had all gone to see someone. I can’t remember who, and Dylan was there. I was in a very, sort of…verbose frame of mind. And I just talked at him for hours and hours and hours, and whether I amused him or scared him or repulsed him, I really don’t know. I didn’t wait for any answers. I just went on and on about everything. And then I said goodnight. He never phoned me.
PLAYBOY: Did he impress you?
BOWIE: Not really. I’d just like to know what the young chap thought of me. I was quite convinced that what I had to say was important, which I seem to feel all the time. It’s been quite awhile since someone really impressed me.
PLAYBOY: Could another musician impress you?
BOWIE: Ricky Ricardo, maybe.
BOWIE ON DRUGS
PLAYBOY: How about drugs?
BOWIE: What years it is not? 1976? I suppose I’ve been knocking on heavens door now for about 11 years, with one sort of high or another. The only kind of drugs I use, though, are ones that keep me working for longer periods of time. I haven’t gotten involved in anything heavy since ’68. I had a silly flirtation with smack then, but it was only for the mystery and enigma of trying it. I never really enjoyed doing it at all. I like fast drugs. I’ve said that many times. I hate falling out, where I can’t stand up and such. It seems like such a waste of time. I hate downs and slow drugs like grass…
PLAYBOY: How much have drugs affected your music?
BOWIE: The music is just an extension of me, so the question really is, What have drugs done to me? They’ve fucked me up, I think. Fucked me up nicely and I’ve quite enjoyed seeing what it was like being fucked up.
BOWIE ON DEAN
BOWIE: Dean was probably very much like me. Elizabeth Taylor told me that once. Dean was calculating. He wasn’t careless. He was not the rebel he portrayed so successfully. He didn’t want to die. But he did believe in the premise of taking yourself to extremes, just to add a deeper cut to one’s personality. James Dean epitomized the very thing that is so campily respectable today – the male hustler. It was part of his incredible magnetism…I admire him immensely – that should take care of any questions you have about whether or not I have any heroes.
(This is one of my favorite Bowie interviews, and I encourage you to read the full interview by clicking HERE.)