Nina Simone’s beloved influence on David Bowie
Nina Simone and David Bowie were complex souls. They both faced brutal battles, understood each other’s struggles, and were there for each other when they formed an unlikely bond during the 1970s. His friendship and artistry were a source. inspiration for Bowie and vice versa.
Their paths collided in 1974 under strange circumstances, it was purely accidental, but it was like fate for it to happen when it happened. Coincidentally, it was a week after Simone was a member of the audience with her daughter at Bowie’s concert at Madison Square Garden. Then, luckily, they were both in the same membership club, and a friendship was born.
As she left the room, Bowie invited her to sit down and exchange her phone numbers. That same evening, at 3 a.m., he called her and she spoke about the issues she was battling. Remembering later, “He said, ‘The first thing I want you to know is that you’re not crazy, don’t let nobody tell you you’re crazy, because where you come from, there are very few of us. the low’.”
Simone was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder and had been taking medication in secret since the 60s. She was used to going through dark episodes in which her behavior would drastically change and the condition would take over the real Nina. For the next 30 days, Bowie would make sure to watch Simone every night and the two would talk through the night. Later, Bowie finally visited him. “He looked like Charlie Chaplin, a clown costume, a big black hat. He told me he was not a talented singer and he knew it, “she recalls.
“He said, ‘What’s wrong with you is that you’re good, you have to play. Your genius overshadows the money, and you don’t know what to do to get your money, when I was not a genius, but I planned, I wanted to be a rock and roll singer and I just got the right formula ‘. “
Adding: “He has more common sense than anyone I have ever known,” she added. “It’s not human, David is not from here.
While Bowie’s influence had a personal impact on Simone, he drew inspiration from her in equal measure. In 1976, he paid tribute to their friendship by recording a version of ‘Wild Is The Wind’ on Station to Station.
It was the only track he didn’t write on the whole album, and while Simone didn’t originally record the song either, ‘Wild Is The Wind’ is definitely his song. She first recorded it in 1959, before releasing it as the title song of a compilation album in 1966, a version Bowie cherished. He later remarked that his decision to place him on Station to Station was simple, explaining that Simone’s take on the track “really affected me,” he said, before adding, “I recorded it as a tribute to Nina.”
Simone’s career was going through a lull at this point, and Bowie’s words of praise about her were just what she needed to hear. Although she remembers her as one of the most successful singers America has produced, even icons can go through times of flux, but that friendship, and knowing how much she meant both in as an artist and, more importantly, as a human for ‘The Thin White Duke’ that mattered most.