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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

David Bowie in the USSR

While the photos of singer David Bowie in the capital of the Soviet Union are cool enough, the story of how Bowie got to Moscow is really interesting.

Bowie was touring Japan in 1973 and got this idea that he wanted to cross over to Vladivostok and take the famed Trans-Siberian train across the country. With his friend and back-up singer Geoff MacCormack he arrived in Vladivostok unannounced.

The Soviet authorities had no idea who he was, but after a few talks decided to allow him in and handed them both a leaflet on Leninism and a guide to what they were allowed to do and photograph while in the country. There is a story, likely apocryphal that Bowie played a few songs on a Vladivostok street before the train left.

He took the trip across the country and was amazed by the huge expanses of wilderness he saw along the way. At one stop the pair almost got left behind while buying some food on the station platform.

Finally arriving in Moscow he visited and photographed the various sights and eventually went to Leningrad as well.

The Soviet authorities never really realized just how famous he was in the west so he wandered around like an ordinary tourist.

You can find many other photos of the trip online and well as some quotes he wrote for a UK teen magazine like: “I could never have imagined such expanses of unspoilt, natural country without actually seeing it myself, it was like a glimpse into another age, another world, and it made a very strong impression on me. It was strange to be sitting in a train, which is the product of technology – the invention of mankind, and travelling through land so untouched and unspoilt by man and his inventions.”


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