Remembering David Bowie and his D.C. detainment
David Bowie was detained by immigration police at Dulles Airport in 1971.
News of glam rock star David Bowie’s Jan. 10 death filled the pages of Twitter this morning. The D.C. Council posted a tweet earlier that said the artist’s first ever U.S. concert took place in D.C. However, several books about the famous singer display the inaccuracies of the Council’s statement. When Bowie arrived in the District to perform, he was detained and prohibited from playing at any venue.
— Council of DC (@councilofdc) January 11, 2016
After losing to an 18 month battle with cancer, Bowie died two days after he turned 69 years old and released his last album “Blackstar.” Although Bowie’s career spans several decades and has a fanbase across the United States, Major Tom’s (a name Bowie adopted) first American visit was at Washington Dulles International Airport. Flying by himself on Jan. 27, 1971, the still unknown Bowie touched down at Dulles Airport.
Once on the ground, the musician was detained by immigration police for his supposed strange appearance and long wild hair. According to the book David Bowie: Starman, Bowie is quoted recalling his detainment saying, “For some reason, they seemed to think I looked strange.”
Once released, Bowie’s intention to perform in D.C. would be hindered due to the absence of a work visa. Without the ability to perform, Bowie would spend his limited visit in D.C. partying and answering questions from journalists. After his slight brush with American immigration, Bowie would soon develop a fear of flying, according to the book Bowie: A Biography.
Although Bowie’s visit to D.C. would be uneventful he would come back to take America by storm under such alter aliases as Ziggy Stardust, The Thin White Duke, and Aladdin Sane.
Correction: A previous version of this article misspelled one of David Bowie's nicknames. He often went by the name "The Think White Duke."