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11 Rock legends in Berlin

On the tracks of David Bowie and Berlin's music scene

David Bowie Ausstellung in Berlin 2014
© Getty Images, Foto: Christian Marquardt

Berlin is always a bit louder, wilder, faster - or at least still wants to be. In the 1970s and 1980s the then-divided city was certainly a magnet for underground culture, for punk, for rock. West-Berlin sent its call to all those who somehow wanted to live out their creativity and excess energy. Of course Berlin still has a reputation as a place for creative freedom. And even if it's not quite as crackling anymore, the longing remains. That's why we've selected some spots and shops to present here 11 rock legends in Berlin. Rock your visit to the capital!

Please show responsibility, wear your masks and follow the hygiene rules of the organizers. Don't be shy, but show your love for Berlin with d i s t a n c e - in support of everyones safety.

Tip 1: David Bowie and Iggy Pop

David Bowies Haustür in Schöneberg
David Bowie Haustür in Schöneberg © wikimedia, Foto: Dirk Ingo Franke

"We can be heroes, just for one day." In 1976 David Bowie moved to Berlin to escape the Los Angeles alcohol and drug scene and his own heroin addiction. He lived with Iggy Pop for three years in the same five-story apartment building at 155 Hauptstrasse in Schöneberg. At first they lived together in the front building, then Bowie threw his friend out and Iggy moved into the building in the backyard.

Both visited clubs like Anderes Ufer (today: Neues Ufer)SO36, the Paris Bar, and the legendary Hansa Studios. It was here that Bowie wrote his hit "Heroes", recorded the album of the same name as well as "Low" and supported Iggy Pop in the recordings of "The Idiot" and "Lust for Life". Bowie's time in Berlin is often credited with the three albums "Low", "Heroes" and "Lodger", which went down in music history as the Berlin Triology. However, "Lodger" was recorded in Switzerland and New York with colaborator Brian Eno and produced by Tony Visconti. In 1981 Bowie returned to the Hansa Studios and worked on the Bertolt Brecht EP "Baal".

Where: Hauptstrasse 155, Schöneberg

Hommage to David Bowie

Tip: On the occasion of David Bowie's 75th birthday on 8 January 2022, the CAMERA WORK Virtual Gallery presents a homage to the artist. You will see portraits, some of which have never been shown before, for example together with his wife Iman or supermodel Kate Moss.

Camera Work Virtual Gallery: David Bowie

Tip 2: Hansa Studios

David Bowie Ausstellung in Berlin 2014
David Bowie Ausstellung in Berlin © Getty Images, Foto: Christian Marquardt

In addition to David Bowie and Iggy Pop, Depeche Mode produced various albums in Berlin, for example "Construction Time Again" (1983), U2 "Achtung Baby" (1991), Nick Cave - with and without The Bad Seeds, Marillion "Misplaced Childhood" (1985), Real Life "Send Me An Angel" (1983), Falco and many other internationally successful rock and pop stars produced in the studios. Operas and film music compositions were also recorded here. The legendary Hansa Studios with the impressive Meistersaal and the Marble Room clad with Italian marble can still be booked for recordings today. 

Where: Köthener Straße 38, Kreuzberg

Concerts in Berlin

Tip 3: Das Wasteland Records

Sunset Tempelhofer Feld
Sunset Tempelhofer Feld © visumate

Berlin Calling! The times are a-changin', but the city's reputation is still attracting the young at heart. Here, everyone is allowed to live out their individual freedom, to turn the nights into day and use the days to experiment with live and unique projects. British music photographer - and part-time guitarist - Martyn Goodacre simply turned his inspiration into a music sampler. The debut album of his Berlin label Das Wasteland Records unites Berlin expat underground at its finest. From spoken word to gritty punk, sometimes brilliant, sometimes crazy and sometimes still construction site. You can't get more Berlin than that. 

You can find the record "Das Wasteland" and plenty of other great music pressed on vinyl at Soultrade Berlin.

Where: Sanderstraße 29, Schöneberg

Das Wasteland Records

Tip 4: Ramones Museum

Ramones Museum
Ramones Museum Berlin © RAMONES MUSEUM BERLIN, Foto: Erik Weiss

"Hey Ho, let's go". This museum is a must for all Ramones fans: Since he attended his first concert in 1990, museum founder Flo Hayler has fallen for the punk band. He started collecting tickets, posters, t-shirts, even clothes of the band members. At the moment, you can't visit the museum's collection of over 500 cult objects from the Ramones' era on site, but the museum's website has plenty of stories about the punk rock band from Queens, New York. Also, tune into  the Nerdcast, a video podcast with Ramones Museum founder Flo Hayler and CJ Ramone.

Where: new rooms are currently being sought for the museum.

Ramones Museum

Tip 5: Nico - Chelsea Girl

Sängerin Nico
Sängerin Nico © wikimedia, Foto: GanMed64

"And what costume shall the poor girl wear to all tomorrow's parties?" She became famous in the USA. But originally, Andy Warhol's Chelsea Girl with the dark aura came from Berlin. Before Nico, whose real name was Christa Päffgen, became an icon with her deep voice as the singer of Velvet Underground, she sold lingerie in the department store of the West KaDeWe and modelled on the side. She died on 18 July 1988 on Ibiza from a heart attack during a bicycle tour. Nico is buried in the Grunewald-Forst cemetery, at the very back of the penultimate row next to her mother, grave number 82.

Where: Havelchausse 92 b, Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf

Friedhof Grunewald-Forst

Tip 6: ufaFabrik

UFA-Fabrik
UFA-Fabrik: Café © visitBerlin, Foto: Angela Kröll

Today the ufaFabrik sees itself as an ecological cultural oasis. In addition to various stages and rooms that are used for concerts and theatre performances, as well as workshops and leisure and educational activities, you will find a children's farm, overnight accommodation, an LPG shop and the nice Café Olé. Exciting are the projects for ecological building, such as the green roofs. In the past, various bands, including Tangerine Dream, practiced on the grounds of the old UFA film studios until the buildings were cleared by the district office in 1978. Shortly afterwards, alternative cultural and rock groups occupied the ufa site and turned it into a factory for culture, sports and handicrafts.

Where: Viktoriastraße 10-18, Tempelhof

ufaFabrik

Tip 7: Metropol

DJ Mixer
DJ Mixer © Getty Images, Foto: 123ducu

The Metropol on Nollendorfplatz has been a spot for parties and culture for over 100 years now. It was a theatre, a club, a cinema and later also the hippest disco in Germany. Here Westbam fired up Berlin's reputation as a techno club legend with 130 beats per minute. In the 1980s, however, rock legends such as David Bowie and Nina Hagen, die Ärzte or the Einstürzende Neubauten also played behind the facades of the Art Nouveau building on Nollendorfplatz.

Tip 8: Paul's Boutique

Pauls Boutique
Paul's Boutique © Foto: Nady El-Tounsy

If you are looking for the right clothes to rock your Berlin visit, then Paul's Boutique is the place to be. Founded in 2000 as an experiment, the concept of the vintage shop named after the Beastie Boys album has proven so successful that the founders opened further second-hand boutiques. Each shop has its own concept. In the original Paul's Boutique you can find jeans, t-shirts and sneakers - of course only the coolest kind.

Where: Oderberger Straße 47, Mitte

Paul's Boutique

Tip 9: Dodo Beach East

Rock conzert
Rock conzert © Getty Images, Foto: PeopleImages

Known as Vopo Records until 2018, today Dodo Beach makes the hearts of vinyl fans beat faster. The focus is on 60ies beats, jazz classics, punk, hardcore and metal. Fans of very hard music get their money's worth in the Metal Dungeon of the Schöneberger Laden. Again and again there are also instore gigs. At the moment it is a bit quieter. Just have a look at the shop website.

Where: Danziger Straße 31, Prenzlauer Berg and Vorbergstraße 8, Schöneberg

Tip 10: Nina Hagen

Nina Hagen
Nina Hagen © wikimedia, Foto: Dirk Herbert

„Auf m Bahnhof Zoo, im Damen-Klo“. In her songs, Nina Hagen described the attitude to life in Berlin in the 1970s and 1980s. The "Godmother of Punk" is an integral part of this period. She recorded two albums with the musicians of the legendary political rock band "Lokomotive Kreuzberg". The second record, "Unbehagen", the musicians and "diva" Hagen already recorded separated in space and time. The four musicians later made a career as Spliff. Hagen continued to sing solo, acted, lived in the USA for a while and now regularly comments on Facebook about social matters.

Bahnhof Zoo

Tip 11: Rio Reiser

Rauch-Haus
Rauch-Haus © wikimedia, Foto: Libertinus Yomango

„Macht kaputt, was euch kaputt macht.“ ("Destroy what destroys you.") sang Rio Reiser, the voice of the squatters and left-wing rebels in Berlin: in 1967 the then 17-year-old came to Berlin and became, first with his band Ton Steine Scherben, then as a solo artist, one of the first system-critical German-language lyricists and singers. He sang about the BVG, Mariannenplatz, experienced the student revolts of the 1960s, the murder of Benno Ohnesorg, wrote texts for a fairer world and expressed his anger at the establishment behind the microphone.

Reiser died in 1996 in Fresenhagen in North Frisia. You can actually rent his house there as a holiday apartment. In Berlin, his fans pay their last respects to him at the Old St.-Matthäus-Kirchhof. 

Where:  Großgörschenstraße 12-14, Schöneberg

Alter St. Matthäus-Kirchhof

Josefine Köhn-Haskins

Josefine

ist in München aufgewachsen, hat dort studiert und bei der SZ volontiert. Auf der Suche nach neuen Abenteuern entdeckte sie erst New York, dann Miami und berichtete als Trendscout und Korrespondentin für verschiedene Publikationen. Ihr Zuhause fand sie dann aber in Berlin. Fasziniert von den vielen Facetten der Stadt ist sie kreuz und quer in den Kiezen unterwegs und beschäftigt sich gerne mit Zukunftsideen und Smart City Konzepten für ein innovatives Berlin.