David Bowie in his own words

8 January 2021, 20:57 | Updated: 8 January 2021, 22:08

David Bowie starring in the film The Man Who Fell To Earth, 1976
David Bowie starring in the film The Man Who Fell To Earth, 1976. Picture: Archive Photos/Getty Images

For such an enigmatic artist, David Bowie liked to talk. A lot. And some of his quotes were revealing and inspiring.

  1. "I don't know where I'm going from here, but I promise I won't bore you."

    Often misquoted, this was Bowie's announcement at his 50th birthday gig at New York's Madison Square Gardens on 9 January 1997.

  2. "I always had a repulsive sort of need to be something more than human. I felt very very puny as a human. I thought, "F**k that. I want to be a superman."

    To Cameron Crowe during the controversial Rolling Stone interview, February 1976

    David Bowie in 1976
    David Bowie in 1976. Picture: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
  3. "I think fame itself is not a rewarding thing. The most you can say is that it gets you a seat in restaurants."

    To Paul Du Noyer, Q magazine, April 1990

    Iman and David Bowie at the premiere for Gangs Of New York, December 2002
    Iman and David Bowie at the premiere for Gangs Of New York, December 2002. Picture: Richard Corkery/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images
  4. “Make the best of every moment. We’re not evolving. We’re not going anywhere.”

    To Esquire, February 2004

    Bowie backstage at Glastonbury in his Alexander McQueen coat, June 2000
    Bowie backstage at Glastonbury in his Alexander McQueen coat, June 2000. Picture: Dave Hogan/Getty Images
  5. "If I’d been an original thinker, I’d never have been in rock & roll. There’s no new way of saying anything.”

    To Cameron Crowe, Rolling Stone, February 1976

    David Bowie in 1976, as photographed by Tom Kelley for the cover of the compilation ChengesOneBowie
    David Bowie in 1976, as photographed by Tom Kelley for the cover of the compilation ChengesOneBowie. Picture: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
  6. “All my big mistakes are when I try to second-guess or please an audience. My work is always stronger when I get very selfish about it.”

    To Paul Du Noyer, The Word, 2003

    David Bowie performing live in 1978
    David Bowie performing live in 1978. Picture: Wolfgang Kunz/ullstein bild via Getty Images
  7. "As you get older, the questions come down to about two or three. How long? And what do I do with the time I've got left?"

    To Jon Pareles, New York Times, June 2002

    Bowie launches his album hours... in Paris in 1999
    Bowie launches his album hours... in Paris in 1999. Picture: CHARRIAU/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
  8. "Searching for music is like searching for God. They're very similar."

    To 60 Minutes, 2003

    Bowie on the set of Julien Temple's film Absolute Beginners, May 1985
    Bowie on the set of Julien Temple's film Absolute Beginners, May 1985. Picture: Georges De Keerle/Getty Images
  9. "Fame can take interesting men and thrust mediocrity upon them."

    To Esquire, February 2004

    Bowie launches A Reality Tour in Australia, February 2004. He'd retire from live performing four months later after suffering a heart attack
    Bowie launches A Reality Tour in Australia, February 2004. He'd retire from live performing four months later after suffering a heart attack. Picture: Patrick Riviere/Getty Images
  10. "I’m not really concerned with what the general public think of me, or my motives or my actions. I don’t really give a damn, and less and less as I get older."

    To Paul Du Noyer, Q magazine, April 1990

    David Bowie, photographed for the cover of his album Pin-Ups in 1973
    David Bowie, photographed for the cover of his album Pin-Ups in 1973. Picture: Justin de Villeneuve/Getty Images
  11. "Even though I was very shy, I found I could get onstage if I had a new identity."

    To the New York Daily News, June 2002

    Bowie in his Ziggy Stardust outfit in June 1972
    Bowie in his Ziggy Stardust outfit in June 1972. Picture: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
  12. "I had no idea my sexuality would get so widely publicised. It was a very sort of off-the-cuff little remark. Best thing I ever said, I suppose.”

    To Cameron Crowe, Rolling Stone, February 1976

    David Bowie in 1976
    David Bowie in 1976. Picture: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
  13. "Growing up with my son is one of the greatest enjoyments that I have."

    To Angus MacKinnon, NME, 13 September 1980

    Bowie, wife Angela and son Duncan aka Zowie at a press conference in Amsterdam, February 1974
    Bowie, wife Angela and son Duncan aka Zowie at a press conference in Amsterdam, February 1974. Picture: Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns/Getty Images
  14. "I’ve always liked collecting something that nobody else knows about. I always liked everything until everybody else liked it. It’s a very English trait. When somebody else discovers what you like, it’s, Mmm, I’ll move on to something else."

    To Paul Du Noyer, Q magazine, April 1990

    Bowie in Paris, June 1977
    Bowie in Paris, June 1977. Picture: Christian Simonpietri/Sygma/VCG via Getty Images
  15. "I had to resign myself, many years ago, that I'm not too articulate when it comes to explaining how I feel about things. But my music does it for me, it really does."

    To Livewire, June 2002

    David Bowie in Paris, September 2002
    David Bowie in Paris, September 2002. Picture: FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images
  16. "I really don’t have too many regrets. If I was told it was all going to happen again and I was able to retain the memories of what went down last time, I wouldn’t do it because it’s too risky. Knowing what I know now… I wouldn’t do that to myself again.”

    To Paul Du Noyer, The Word, 2003

    David Bowie at the BBC in 2001
    David Bowie at the BBC in 2001. Picture: Dave Hogan/Getty Images
  17. "Music has given me over 40 years of extraordinary experiences. It's been both my doorway of perception and the house that I live in."

    Address to the Berklee College of Music, Boston, 8 May 1999

    Bowie pefforms as part of curating Meltdown in June 2002
    Bowie pefforms as part of curating Meltdown in June 2002. Picture: Dave Benett/Getty Images
  18. "I always thought I was intellectual about what I do, but I've come to the realisation that I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing half the time."

    To Charles Shaar Murray of the NME, 29 September 1984.

    Bowie at the time of Tin Machine, October 1989
    Bowie at the time of Tin Machine, October 1989. Picture: Aaron Rapoport/Corbis/Getty Images
  19. "I'm an instant star. Just add water and stir."

    To Rex Reed in the book Valentines And Vitriol, 1977

    David Bowie in 1972. This image later turned up on a reissue of his album The Man Who Sold The World
    David Bowie in 1972. This image later turned up on a reissue of his album The Man Who Sold The World. Picture: Charlie Gillett Collection/Redferns/Getty Images
  20. "Tomorrow belongs to those who can hear it coming”

    Press ad for Bowie's "Heroes" album, October 1977

    David Bowie as photographed by Masayoshi Sukita for the cover of "Heroes", 1977
    David Bowie as photographed by Masayoshi Sukita for the cover of "Heroes", 1977. Picture: Masayoshi Sukita/RCA/Getty Images