David Bowie, Ziggy Stardust, Iggy Pop and Max's Kansas City


Before ever setting foot in America, Max's Kansas City played a vital role in creating the buzz around David Bowie.

His manager Tony DeFries, along with Max's mainstays Cherry Vanilla, Leee Black Childers and Tony Zinetta, set up a management office called MainMan on E 58th St, and heavily publicized Bowie's first appearance in the Back Room at Max's.

The team worked tirelessly to secure U.S. concert dates, hire tour personnel and create a media blitz, but they knew that Bowie's performance at Max's would ultimately be his most important show in the States.

David Bowie's now-famous androgyny, hints of bisexuality and outlandish stage persona all fit perfectly with Max's reputation for fostering the avant-garde. Bowie's US premiere in the Back Room was a milestone for his illustrious career and the start of a long anticipated second incarnation for Max's Kansas City.


When he wasn't performing, David Bowie would frequent the Back Room to get inspiration. Here's what David Bowie had to say about the first time he saw Bruce Springsteen:

"So this guy is sitting up there with an acoustic guitar doing a complete Dylan thing. My friend and I were about to leave when he started introducing a band who were joining him on stage."

"The moment they kicked in he was another performer. All the Dylanesque stuff dropped off him and he rocked. I became a major fan that night and picked up Asbury Park immediately."

Inspired by Bruce Springsteen's performance, David Bowie recorded a batch of Springsteen covers when he returned to London.

Two years later, the two would come together in a recording studio in Philadelphia for David Bowie's cover of the Bruce Springsteen classic "Saint In The City". When asked what other American artists Bowie wanted to cover he answered, "There are none."

This early Bruce Springsteen video is the influential performance that David Bowie witnessed at Max's.


Even before he was someone who Andy Warhol would have spent time with, David Bowie was a huge fan of Warhol.

"David Bowie was always saying, ‘Larissa, Larissa, where is Andy, where is Andy?'" recalled Larissa Jarzambeck. "He always wanted to know where Andy was, and this was before anybody knew who he was. And then the weirdest thing is, he was totally fascinated with Andy and then he ends up playing Andy Warhol in the Basquiat movie. It's such an incredible circle."

This David Bowie video shows him playing his tribute to Warhol.


Since first meeting each other at Max's Kansas City in 1971, Iggy Pop and David Bowie started a collaboration that was short on time, but undeniable for the impact it made on Rock and Roll history.

David Bowie's admiration for Iggy Pop dated back to the first Stooges album, which is why he invited Iggy to be his traveling companion while Bowie toured America. At that time, Bowie used his influence with RCA to negotiate a recording contract for Iggy.

In 1976, the pair travelled to France to record Iggy's album "The Idiot" with Bowie co-writing the tracks, creating the arrangements and producing the album. The pair even recorded the same material, as is the case with "China Girl". The song became a hit single for Bowie, but most fans consider Iggy's version superior.

In 1977, David Bowie and Iggy Pop went on tour together to promote "The Idiot" in both Europe and the U.S and took a short break in Berlin to record "Lust For Life", Iggy's most personal album. When it came time to tour the album, Bowie joined the backing band for his friend, but took a low profile playing keyboards.

Clearly the bond that was started in The Back Room at Max's was made a lasting impression on their careers and the history of Rock.

Check out this Iggy Pop and David Bowie video of the two playing Iggy Pop's "Fun Time".


"Act like a star, be treated like a star" is a tenet David Bowie lives by. Strangely enough, this meant digging through trash cans on London's Carnaby St for a not-yet-famous Bowie.

"The very best young designers were down there... if any of the shirts had a button off or anything like that, it would go into the dustbin," Bowie told Playboy in a 1976 interview.

Not surprisingly, in 2004, GQ named Bowie the fourth best-dressed man of all time. Bowie and his wife, supermodel Iman, quite frequently grace the pages of Vogue and Esquire.

Early in his career, Bowie learned a valuable lesson from Andy Warhol: There is nothing wrong with being a dilettante.

"He was very much in Warhol's mode, simply to the extent that Warhol showed that, instead of taking the view that all art is immutable and the values of art last forever, he took the view that art values could change with the times," says Thomas Sokolowski, director of the Andy Warhol Museum.

Bowie's look was transformed by Max's. What he brought in the form of androgynous glam Max's encouraged. "It was reminiscent of our drag queens and our lovely Candy Darling," said Bebe Buell. "I think Jayne County had alot to do with David cultivating his look."

As the years passed and his celebrity became a reality, his multiple personas — Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, Thin White Duke, etc. — all found their way into one mega-persona: David Bowie.

— Excerpted and referenced from "Bowie has proven himself a fashion chameleon"
by William Loeffler TRIBUNE-REVIEW 14 May 2004


Some people may say that the connection between William S. Burroughs and David Bowie does not go beyond the LSD-induced strobe lights typical to a Ziggy Stardust show, but after crossing paths at Max's, David Bowie put Williams S. Burroughs on the rock map when Rolling Stone published the mind altering 1974 interview "Bowie on Burroughs on Bowie."

After shooting his wife and running off to Tangiers to write his epic "Naked Lunch", William S. Burroughs returned to the US to hook up with Max's mainstays Patti Smith, Lou Reed and Andy Warhol, who he referred to as "a very alien thing, completely and totally unemotional. He's really a science fiction character."

David Bowie's encounter with William S. Burroughs greatly influenced his lyrical style. Songs like "Life On Mars" borrow Burroughs' "cut-up" technique which involved chopping up text and piecing it back together randomly. John Lennon and Bob Dylan also joined Bowie in co-opting William S. Burrough's technique.