This week, the world lost the icon David Bowie, a legendary musician, creative force, and true global citizen passed away at the age of 69 from cancer. Bowie — known for hits such as Changes, Ashes To Ashes and Starman — left a legacy created by the pioneering musicianship and ground-breaking lyrics dating back almost half a century.
To honor the singer, Architectural Digest revisits the David Bowie’s Indonesian-style refuge on Mustique, which appeared in the September 1992 issue. And The Most Expensive Homes will share this great content with you. Come remember with us!
One of the cruising guides to the Grenadines sports a hand-drawn map of the island of Mustique that shows its various points of interest. Here is “Princess Margaret’s ho.” There’s “Mick Jagger’s ho.” And up here, high on a hillside, is “David Bowie’s ho.” And one heck of a ho it is, five years and more than fourteen cargo containers in the making, culminating in an Indonesian-style pavilion that horseshoes around two koi-filled ponds that descend burbling toward the setting sun into a sort of trompe-l’eau sluice from which dark water appears to emerge magically pristine as it pours into the swimming pool.
Indonesia in the Caribbean? But of course. No architecture is out of context on Mustique, an island of follies and Taj Mahals and Kyoto gardens. “It’s a whim personified,” says David Bowie. “I love a good cliché, and this house for me is just the most delightful cliché.”
Bowie, his mismatched eyes sparkle with intelligence, wit, mimicry and a distinctly sexual energy, drags on the umpteenth Marlboro of the morning. At forty-five, he is ascetically lean and fit, almost gaunt. He was twenty-two when he became famous with the song “Space Oddity,” a soulful dirge about an alienated astronaut named Major Tom.
He released it to coincide with Apollo 11, and when BBCTV played it moments after Neil Armstrong planted his feet on lunar soil, Bowie too was launched. He brought to rock his own theater of the absurd with a succession of extremely dramatic personae—Major Tom, the androgynous Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, the Mephistophelian Thin White Duke.
In 1990, he made the gutsy, artistic move of announcing that he would perform his greatest hits one more time on tour and then never again, in order to force himself to produce a new repertoire. His current band is Tin Machine, which plays to mixed but, given his exalted status, respectful reviews; two of its members are sons of the sixties comedian Soupy Sales. He is newly married to Iman Abdulmajid, a.k.a. Iman, the painfully beautiful (but not as tall as you thought) Somalian model and now an actress.Jagger, he explains, came to Mustique via Princess Margaret. “
Jagger, he explains, came to Mustique via Princess Margaret. “Mick had been with that crowd for quite some time. He knew them all through the sixties. The Stones were, of course, the house band for all the coming-out parties in the sixties. ‘Let’s get the Rolling Stones! Daddy, can we have the Rolling Stones?’ ‘Well, tell them to wash before they come.’ That sort of thing. So he moved in those circles at a very young age.” Jagger’s house, like Hasselqvist’s, is Japanese style, with a great croquet lawn.
So Bowie bought the land in 1986, and the house was ready, except for finishing touches, by Christmas 1989, an accomplishment that deservedly swells the chest of New York designer Robert J. Litwiller, who coordinated the disparate contributions of Hasselqvist, and designer Linda Garland and landscape architect Michael White, both of whom live half world away on Bali.
In October 1990, a mutual friend brought Bowie together with Iman. “I’d just come out of one relationship and I was really completely uninterested in forming a new one. And then we had dinner in Los Angeles, and it was over. Or rather, it began. She’d just been there a year. She’d quit modeling to endeavor to create a new career for herself, acting, a very brave thing to do. She was very hard-line about modeling: ‘That’s it, I’m at the top, I’ll stop.’ She just did Star Wars this year. Not Star Wars, what’s that other space thing? Star Trek. Star Trek 39. And she did House Party 2. She did a television movie called Lies of the Twins, and for the first year in Hollywood, that’s pretty good.”
Bowie has called himself an entertainer, not a musician. “Oh yeah, absolutely. I’ve been lucky with the songs. I can’t play anything well.” This is an amusing admission from a multiplatinum rock aristocrat. “I play what is politely called ‘composer’s piano,’ which means I know enough chords to be able to find my way around a song but not enough to sit down on stage, like Elton John, for instance, who’s a wizard pianist. I’ll have a go at anything and get a screech or an oink out of it, and then think, Well, that’s kind of nice, play it three times and it’ll sound like an arrangement.” He adds, “I think that’s the secret to half of my success as a composer.” He says that Philip Glass, the American composer, will debut a symphonic piece at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in October consisting of a cycle of Bowie’s seventies Berlin trilogy—Low, Heroes, and Lodger, his favorite compositions. “I rollick in it because Glass was a huge influence on me in the seventies, so the cycle has sort of come full circle.”
His house overlooking Lake Geneva is where he works and writes. But David Bowie’s heart seems to be in Colin Tennant’s “strange netherworld—nutty, potty” Mustique, this semi-sceptered isle, this rhinestone set in a turquoise sea, “this storehouse of anecdotes, none of which will pass my lips,” he laughs. “My ambition is to make music so incredibly uncompromised that I will have absolutely no audience left whatsoever and then I’ll be able to spend the entire year on the island.”
Source: Architectural Digest