The Thin White Duke


The Thin White Duke was David Bowie‘s 1976 persona and character. At first glance, the Duke appeared more “normal” than Bowie’s previous incarnations, wearing a stylish, cabaret-style wardrobe, but the massive amounts of cocaine he consumed during this period made his personality, or at least the personality he displayed during interviews, more alarming than it had ever been. At this time in his life, he said that he lived on “red peppers, cocaine and milk“.

Impeccably dressed in white shirt, black trousers and waistcoat, The Duke was a hollow man who sang songs of romance with an agonised intensity while feeling nothing, “ice masquerading as fire”. The persona has been described as “a mad aristocrat”, “an amoral zombie”, and “an emotionless Aryan superman”. For Bowie himself, The Duke was “a nasty character indeed”, and later, “an ogre for me”.

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Station to Station was recorded after he completed shooting Nicolas Roeg’s The Man Who Fell to Earth, and the cover artwork featured a still from the movie. During the sessions Bowie was heavily dependent on drugs, especially cocaine, and recalls almost nothing of the production.
As his drug habit ate away at his physical and mental health, Bowie decided to move from Los Angeles to Paris and then West Berlin, where he began recording the Berlin Trilogy (Low, “Heroes”, and Lodger) with Brian Eno and Tony Visconti.

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