David Bowie Only Found Relaxation Through Work: ‘The Only Thing to Do Was to Try to Go Through Life as Superman’

From the moment David Bowie landed in the London music scene in the 1960s, he was a workaholic. He didn’t stop. He constantly wrote songs and flexed his artistic muscles in virtually every area he could. Bowie wanted to “go through life as Superman.”

So, if he was superhuman, then he didn’t need relaxation. He only needed his work, not a vacation somewhere in the Bahamas.

David Bowie performing in a suit at Live Aid, London, 1985.
David Bowie | Georges De Keerle/Getty Images

David Bowie never stopped working

In the late 1970s, Bowie spoke with Playboy about his work. During the interview, Playboy pointed out that Bowie claimed he liked to work all the time, yet he released only one album a year. Playboy was curious what Bowie did in between recording sessions.

Apparently, Bowie kept himself extremely busy doing something in art, even in between recording.

Bowie answered, “I write songs and screenplays and poems, I paint, I do Kurlien photography, I manage myself, I act, I produce, I record, sometimes I tour. I could give you five new and unreleased David Bowie albums right now. I could just hand them over. I’ve got an incredible backlog of material. Work, work, work…”

Still, working around the clock, Bowie wanted nothing more than to be challenged. Throughout his career, he loved friction and adored a sense of competition.

Bowie only found relaxation in work

Later, Crowe asked Bowie if he ever relaxed. Let’s just say that he didn’t have time to go on any fancy vacations in those days.

“If you’re asking whether or not I take vacations, the answer is no,” Bowie said. “I find all my relaxation within the context of work; I’m very serious about that. I’ve always thought the only thing to do was to try to go through life as Superman, right from the word go.

“I felt far too insignificant as just another person. I couldn’t exist thinking all that was important was to be a good person,” Bowie continued.

The “Let’s Dance” singer didn’t want to be like everyone else. “I thought, F*** that; I don’t want to be just another honest Joe,” he said.

Ultimately, Bowie had big plans. “I want to be a supersuperbeing and improve all the equipment that I’ve been given to where it works 300 percent better, I find that it’s possible to do it.”


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What Bowie didn’t have time for — except a vacation

While Bowie was working up a storm and making a legacy for himself, he realized he couldn’t do one thing. There was one work-related outlet that Bowie didn’t have time to revolutionize; starting a record label. If Bowie wanted to be Superman, then that was his kryptonite.

“It did come up, it did come up,” Bowie told Count Down about starting a record label, “but you see, again, I’d love to, but if I did that, I’d have to be-for something like that; we did investigate the idea of doing it. Because there were several acts that I wanted to really get involved in something like that. Mainly Sonic Youth, Pixies, Glenn Branca.

“Those were the top three I wanted to get involved with, but you know you’d have to be looking after something like that 24 hours a day; otherwise, somebody else will run with the ball and change the whole animal and become something else.

“It’s so time-consuming. I wouldn’t act as an artist anymore; I would have to become some kind of record executive. And it’s no good me just fronting a record label and then leaving it up to other people to run because I wouldn’t be able to keep its integrity.”

So, it seems as if Bowie couldn’t be completely superhuman. Along with vacations, Bowie didn’t have time to start a record label, which would have taken him to the next level of stardom. Even though Bowie didn’t get around to doing some of the things he wanted to do, he still made a huge impact on music and pop culture.