Fans of the late David Bowie, who passed away in January, gathered in Berlin on Monday to honour the singer’s memory and to commemorate his time in the city.
At the event, Berlin Mayor Michael Muller unveiled a porcelain plaque on the building Bowie called home when he lived in the city between 1976 and 1978.
Normally an honour like this requires a waiting period of about five years after someone dies but the Senate signed off on the installation of the plaque almost immediately. The mayor said it wasn’t necessary to wait.
“With David Bowie we are quite certain,” of his historical significance to Berlin, Muller said.
In his speech to the crowd, Muller also noted that Bowie was an important figure in Berlin’s history and helped contribute to the city as a haven for creativity and openness.
“David Bowie belongs to Berlin, David Bowie belongs to us,” said Muller.
Bowie moved to Berlin in 1976 and took up residence in a non-descript apartment building in a Western district of the city known as Schoneberg.
He reportedly said that he could move around Berlin in “virtual anonymity,” saying that “for some reason, Berliners just didn’t care.”
The number of fans who showed up for the unveiling today shows that almost 40 years later Berliners do care.
The people that came out spanned generations, from Bowie’s own generation to teenagers. Two teen girls decked out in Bowie T-shirts and jean jackets emblazoned with his name came to pay tribute to the singer saying they just loved his music.
Another young German fan in her twenties named Chiara, said she too loved his music and just wanted to be part of the festivities celebrating him and his music.
Others came with photos, and candles, placing them on the doorstep of the building while singing along to some of his most famous hits coming from the loud speakers set up for the event.
The plaque unveiled on Monday reads, “This time gave rise to the albums Low, Heroes and Lodger. They enter music history as the ‘Berlin Trilogy.’”
All three of these albums were produced at the renowned Hansa Studios, where other world famous artists like U2, Depeche Mode and R.E.M have all recorded albums over the years. Although smaller than it once was the studio still exists today.
Melanie de Klerk is an assignment editor at Global National. She is currently living in Berlin as one of the 2016 Arthur F. Burns Journalism Fellows.