Singaporeans remember David Bowie fondly, as well as his 1980s documentary in which the Southeast Asian city-state appeared.
As the world still grieves the passing of David Bowie and celebrates the debut of his final record on US record chart Billboard at number one, small facts and interesting anecdotes have started to emerge about the legendary, eccentric rock star, including the lasting impression that Singapore left on him during his time there according to various Singaporean media outlets.
On the Asian leg of his Serious Moonlight World Tour in the 1980s, Bowie took the time to film himself wandering through the cities of Hong Kong, Bangkok and city-state Singapore, and presented the piece as David Bowie: Ricochet, taken from a song off his Let’s Dance album released in 1983.
▼ Here’s a scene paired with the song, featuring Bowie exploring Singapore and riding numerous escalators.
▼ In fact, stairs seemed to be a common theme with Bowie in the 80s.
But for Bowie, the escalators in Singapore held a much deeper meaning, where he introduces the tour by writing,
“I am supposed to say something to the children in the Singapore audience. These children who are doomed to ride the up escalator forever. These American-designed fiber glass light-conducting interested-inscrutable faces. I stand on a beautifully improvised high-tech kitchen-unit stage, and I am shocked at how loose-eyed and shoddy my songs seem in the face of the fact that these green- and red-streaked kids represent a thousand-year-old culture. As if in agreement with the cultural difference, the local authorities have separated me from the kids with a 65-foot ramp between the first row and stage. I do mean kids and I do mean separated!”
Due to the process of reclaiming land in Singapore over the past, many of the places Bowie visited have likely been re-zoned, but you can follow his travels at Singapore filmic history blog, The Hunter, for an in-depth guide to all of the places Bowie visits during the shooting of Ricochet. Even if you’re not much of a Bowie fan and haven’t seen the movie, the tidbits of Singaporean history are worth the click alone.
During his commentary in Ricochet, Bowie also sheds a light on some of the darker practices of Singaporean society before it became the peaceful, modern city it is known as today, including drug-related hangings, overwork, and lack of openness towards music outside of the norm, including rock ‘n’ roll.
However it seems that all the trouble Bowie went through to put on a show there only made the set and turnout that much more memorable, and the artist apparently held the city in high regard up until the end of his days. Considering all the press coverage of Bowie’s passing in the Singaporean media lately, it would seem that for Singaporeans the feeling is more than mutual.
Source: YouTube/Halloweenjack84, Coconuts Singapore
Top/feature image: The Official Carlos Alomar Blog
Insert image: Labyrinth Wikia
Excerpt: Serious Moonlight: The World Tour Book, courtesy of BowieWonderworld.com