The Thin White Duke

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This article is about the David Bowie persona. For the electronic music producer who uses this title for remixes, see Stuart Price.
Bowie as the Thin White Duke at Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto 1976
At the O'Keefe Centre.

The Thin White Duke was David Bowie's 1976 persona and character, primarily identified with his album Station to Station (released that year) and mentioned by name in the title track, although the 'Duke' persona had been adopted during the Young Americans tour and promotion. At first glance, the Duke appeared more "normal" than Bowie's previous incarnations, wearing a stylish, cabaret-style wardrobe, but the massive amounts of cocaine he consumed during this period made his personality, or at least the personality he displayed during interviews, more alarming than it had ever been. At this time in his life, he said that he lived on "red peppers, cocaine, and milk".[1]

Impeccably dressed in a white shirt, black trousers and a waistcoat, the Duke was a hollow man who sang songs of romance with an agonised intensity while feeling nothing, "ice masquerading as fire".[2] The persona has been described as "a mad aristocrat",[2] "an amoral zombie",[3] and "an emotionless Aryan superman".[4] For Bowie himself, the Duke was "a nasty character indeed",[5] and later, "an ogre for me".[6]

As his drug habit ate away at his physical and mental health, Bowie decided to move from Los Angeles to Paris and then West Berlin, where he began recording the "Berlin Trilogy" albums (Low, "Heroes", and Lodger) with Brian Eno and Tony Visconti.


  1. ^ Buckley, David (1999). Strange Fascination – David Bowie: The Definitive Story (1st ed.). London: Virgin. pp. 258–75. ISBN 1-8522-7784-X. 
  2. ^ a b Carr, Roy; Murray, Charles Shaar (1981). Bowie: An Illustrated Record. New York: Avon. pp. 78–80. ISBN 0-380-77966-8. 
  3. ^ Buckley, David (2000) [First published 1999]. Strange Fascination – David Bowie: The Definitive Story (2nd ed.). London: Virgin. p. 58. ISBN 0-7535-0457-X. 
  4. ^ Pegg, Nicholas (2004) [2000]. The Complete David Bowie. London: Reynolds & Hearn. pp. 297–300. ISBN 1-903111-73-0. 
  5. ^ Wilcken, Hugo (2005). Low. New York: Continuum. p. 24. ISBN 0-8264-1684-5. 
  6. ^ White, Timothy (February 1978). "Turn and Face The Strange". Crawdaddy. 

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