12th December 1996
Rock & roll legend David Bowie is having a birthday bash, and a few special friends have been extended an invite. Bowie — one of Britain’s most influential and original rock gods — is turning 50, and a mega concert featuring several special guests is in the works to help celebrate the golden years.
The gala affair is scheduled for New York’s Madison Square Garden on Jan.9, 1997. (Bowie’s actual birthday is on Jan. 8.) According to New York-based promoters Delsner/Slater, the special guests include Lou Reed, Foo Fighters, Sonic Youth, Frank Black and Robert Smith of the Cure. Each artist will join Bowie on stage at various points throughout the show. Opening the show will be the London-based trio Placebo, who received a personal invitation from Bowie to kick off the festivities.
Placebo, who’s self-titled debut has been lighting up the British charts throughout 1996, originally toured with Bowie last summer in Europe when another British rock god, Morrissey, dropped out, reportedly due to depression. “Morrissey gave us one of our best breaks ever when he pulled out of the David Bowie tour,” says Placebo’s frontman Brian Molko.
As irony would have it, Placebo recently finished up a track on a Smiths tribute record, “The Smiths is Dead,” and missed out on the Bowie tribute that came out earlier this year. “I was very sad to find out that there has already been a Bowie tribute record,” says Molko. “From being on tour with Bowie, we grew to really love ‘Spaceboy’ as a song but there will always be songs that are really important to me like ‘Andy Warhol,’ ‘Quicksand,’– the farther back you go, the better — ‘Breaking Glass in Your Room Again,’ ‘Always Crashing in Somebody Else’s Car’; I just thought, ‘Oh fuck, we should have been on that.'”
The always avant-garde Bowie first emerged with “The World of David Bowie” in 1967, but it wasn’t until 1972’s “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars” that Bowie’s flair for glam-inspired space rock and androgynous theatrics became his staple. Molko, like Bowie, shares the belief that the art of rock & roll is an influential and dramatic vehicle. “Being in a band allows you to take parts of your personality which you like and bring them to the forefront or make them larger for dramatic effect” says Molko. “It also gives you the freedom to be whatever the hell you want to be.” Bowie, the ultimate chameleon, would certainly concur, as he heads into his second half-century.