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First Star Kabbalist David Bowie


The Englishman David Bowie never lost touch with the Jewish world. It was he who overtook Madonna with her passion for Kabbalah by more than 20 years. And it was he who became, perhaps, the only star of this magnitude who sang in Hebrew. In 1996, after a concert in Tel Aviv's Yarkon Park, Bowie admitted that he "had to work very hard to be happier than he is now."


Sometimes, in order to become yourself, you need to be born again. In 2004, Bowie performed in Prague as part of a tour in support of the new Reality album. It was a hot June day. Bowie looked great at 57: fit, with long blond hair and a colorful scarf tied around his neck. He has given up drugs and alcohol and has recently given up smoking. In Reality , released in September 2003, Bowie touched on the themes of mortality and confrontation with reality, parting with illusions. As befits a genius, he hit the nail on the head.

During the performance of the title track of the album, on the words Now my death is more than just a sad song (“Now my death is more than just a sad song.” - Note ed. ), he began to choke. Bowie went so white that the band's bassist thought the light was coming right through him. Sweat streamed from Bowie in a stream, his shirt was completely soaked. The audience, closest to the stage, was pretty excited: for no reason, Bowie stopped singing and looked like another second, and he would faint. At that moment, a security guard ran onto the stage and helped Bowie down.

By some miracle, he returned and brought the concert to the end. A local doctor misdiagnosed a pinched nerve and prescribed muscle relaxers.

Bowie performed at a festival in Germany two days later. After perfecting the entire program, including the closing song Ziggy Stardust, he said goodbye to the fans, stepped down the backstage steps and immediately passed out. At a local hospital, he was urgently operated on, finding a blood clot in his heart. The old Bowie died, making way for the new, David Robert Jones.


World fame came to Bowie in 1969. Space Race, Apollo 11, the Moon landing, Kubrick's Space Odyssey - this series would be incomplete without Space Oddity , a ballad about the era's rock star, Spaceman Major Tom. From here on out, the real (as far as possible) Bowie - David Robert Jones - takes a long break, trying on various personas, reincarnating either as Ziggy Stardust, or as Jareth the Goblin King, or as Halloween Jack, and even as Pierrot. We are most interested in the period of the mid-70s, the time of Bowie's most controversial character - the Gaunt White Duke.

Bowie arrived in the US in 1974, right at the height of the cocaine decade. For rock and roll stars, it served as a cure for sleep, the burdensome need for which interfered with the creative process. Bowie never made a secret of his addiction to the drug during those years - not in a controversial interview with Playboy magazine in 1975, nor in an interview with MOJO magazine in 2002. Bowie, by his own admission, was on a diet of milk, red pepper and cocaine. Which, however, did not affect his musical abilities in any way. As the occultist Aleister Crowley, whose work Bowie studied as well as the Kabbalah, wrote: “Give cocaine to someone who is already wise, and if he really controls himself, he will not be harmed.”

In March 1975, Bowie moved to Los Angeles, where his acting career began. He stars in Nicholas Roeg's The Man Who Fell to Earth as an alien named Thomas Jerome Newton. Filming took place in Albuquerque (a city in the state of New Mexico), named after the Duke de Albuquerque. Name of the city? City of the Duke. Returning to Los Angeles, Bowie begins recording the album Station to Station ("From station to station"), getting used to the role of his character from the movie Rogue, expanding and renaming him the Gaunt White Duke.

Kabbalah served as one of the sources of inspiration. One of the concepts of Kabbalah - sefirot (or, if you like, stations), elements of the Tree of Life, separates Kether, the crown of the universe, from Malkuth, the channel through which divine revelation seeps into the material world. It's hard to tell if it reached Bowie literally going crazy on cocaine, but the following lines eventually found their way into the title track Station to Station , which Bowie performed over 350 times live, including shows in Prague and Germany in the hot June of 2004: Here are we / One magical movement / from Kether to Malkuth / There are you / You drive like a demon / from station to station _ _ _

On the back cover of the album, Bowie is depicted drawing the Tree of Life, which he apparently did frequently during the recording of the record.

It is worth noting, however, that the rushing from one extreme to the other was characteristic of Bowie - the Gaunt White Duke - of that period. He described his new persona as "an emotionless Aryan superman." In the same Playboy interview he referred to Hitler as "one of the first rock stars" and recommended a fascist leader for Britain. During the concert tour, Bowie was detained at the Polish border, having found with him a collection of Nazi symbols; arriving at a meeting with fans at one of the London Underground stations, he greeted them with a Nazi salute ... Much later, Bowie blamed everything on drugs, claiming that he did not remember what was happening to him then, in the mid-70s. One way or another, Bowie's later life convincingly proved that he had never been a Nazi. In 1996, after a concert in Tel Aviv's Yarkon Park, Bowie admitted that "I'm going to have to work very hard to be happier than I am now."

Bowie remained in touch with the Jewish world throughout his career. Rockers with Jewish roots have always been around - whether it's Lou Reed and Bob Dylan (he produced one of the albums of the first, dedicated a song to the second) or the brothers Tony and Hunt Sales, the sons of Jewish comedian Soupi Sales, with whom Bowie performed from 1988 to 1992 .


After the incident in Germany, Bowie practically said goodbye to the world outside his family. He stopped performing, recording albums, and generally seemed to turn into a ghost: he himself took his daughter to school in Manhattan, took a taxi, went to a regular gym. In order not to be recognized, he carried a newspaper in Greek with him, hoping that passers-by would mistake him for a Greek who only looked like David Bowie. With family, daughter Lexi and wife Iman, a model of Somali origin, he was the same David Robert Jones before and after all sorts of stage names, personas, images and incarnations. He finally fell to Earth, and what he found on it was to his liking.

True, he did not become a recluse. Bowie accompanied Iman on public appearances, played Nolan in The Prestige, voiced a character in Lexi's favorite cartoon, SpongeBob SquarePants. And yet, by 2013, he seemed to have convinced everyone that he was done with music once and for all.

It was all the more surprising when, on his 66th birthday, Bowie broke a ten-year silence with a new album. In Bowie's last three years, he returned to doing what he did best: creating. He released two great albums, T he Next Day and Blackstar , directed the musical "Lazarus" based on his songs from different years, including The Man Who Sold the World and Life on Mars? early seventies and, in fact, Lazarus - "Lazarus" from the latest record.

The musical continues the story of Newton who fell to Earth. Aged, he drags out a miserable existence all alone, sipping gin, calling himself "a dead man who cannot die in any way." His salvation comes in the form of the ghost of a 13-year-old girl (Lexi's age at the time) who helps Newton believe that he can still find some semblance of a home.

All this time, the last year and a half of his life, Bowie battled liver cancer, hiding this fact from everyone for as long as he could. A month before his death at the premiere of the musical, Bowie passed out backstage for the second time in a decade. Despite this, he continued to record songs. A week before his death, he informed a close friend that he was going to record another album immediately after Blackstar .

Not surprisingly, the news of his death startled even those few who were aware of his illness. The actors involved in the production of "Lazarus" were not even aware of this. Actor Michael C Hall, who plays the role of Newton and is himself in remission, was so shocked by Bowie's death that in the first production after this tragic event, he could hardly speak.

Bowie passed away on January 10, 2016. Two days before that, he turned 69 years old, at the same time his last album was released.