|David Bowie reciting The Lord’s Prayer, Wembley Stadium, 1992.|
There’s been so much written about David Bowie in the week and a bit since he died, but this piece about him doing the Lord’s Prayer at the Freddie Mercury tribute concert at London’s Wembley Stadium in 1992 is my favourite. For decades it’s been easier for African American stars to swing between the secular and the spiritual – maybe in part because so many of them grew up singing in church – but it’s rare territory for an English rock legend.
More than that, it’s hard to think of anything less cool in the early 90s than for a white English singer to kneel before 72,000 rock fans and start saying, “Our Father, who art in Heaven…”
Though that’s precisely what Bowie did on April 20th, 1992. My own tribute article to David Bowie (published on Monday – click here to read it) tried to analyse what it was that made him so ever-increasingly cool. Only I’d neglected to mention this moment from the Freddie Mercury concert, purely because I’d somehow forgotten all about it.
Part of whatever “cool” is has to be not caring what others think of you. Had it been anybody else performing that day to have done The Lord’s Prayer it may’ve come across as artificial, or even worse, that horror term of derision so often applied by 90s rock fans to anything spiritual: “preachy.”
But David Bowie? In the hands of someone so intelligent, so worldly-wise and so damn cool, The Lord’s Prayer was stripped of all artifice. It was sincere. It also raised some questions, namely, what was it that compelled Bowie to recite it? Did he believe in God himself? Was he religious? All of which is answered in this article – click here – as published by pjmedia.com. Including the fact Bowie only decided to do the prayer five minutes before taking to the stage.
Here’s a particularly revealing quote from Bowie in a 1993 interview with Arena magazine as mentioned in the article:
“Looking at what I have done in my life, in retrospect so much of what I thought was adventurism was searching for my tenuous connection with God. I was always investigating, always looking into why religions worked and what it was people found in them. And I was always fluctuating from one set of beliefs to another until a very low point in the mid-Seventies where I developed a fascination with black magic… And although I’m sure there was a satanic lead pulling me towards it, it wasn’t a search for evil. It was in the hope that the signs might lead me somewhere.”
Enjoy the read. And if you haven’t seen it, here’s David Bowie performing alongside Queen and his longtime guitarist Mick Ronson on Heroes. As the song concludes, Bowie talks of the scourge of AIDS before dropping to his knees.