David Bowie: Recordings in a haunted studio

In 1976, David Bowie had left behind a dark part of his past after living several years in Los Angeles where he dabbled in the occult and became addicted to cocaine. Determined to get clean and start a new chapter of his life, Bowie relocated to Berlin. Choosing a place called Chateau d'Herouville, near Paris, Bowie and his band began writing and recording what would become the classic album entitled "Low."

 

The Chateau was an "opulent mansion hemmed in by high stone walls and heavy iron gates" and was the location of one of Bowie's earlier recordings. The following is an excerpt from an interview with David Bowie from the UK's "Uncut" magazine. The article is entitled "Trans-Europe Excess" and was written by Stephen Dalton and Rob Hughes for the April 2001 edition of the magazine:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::


 

Speaking of spirits, the Low sessions also suffered from supernatural visitations. Chateau d'Herouville contains two studios linked by a covered arcade, each named after former residents Frederic Chopin and George Sand. The ghosts of these doomed lovers are rumoured to patrol its rambling, shadowy corridors. In fact, Bowie declined to sleep in the master bedroom because it seemed haunted.
 
"It was a spooky place," Bowie told us. "I did refuse one bedroom, as it felt impossibly cold in certain areas of it. To my knowledge, though, the place itself had no bearing on the form or tonality of the work (the album "Low"). The studio itself was a joy, ramshackle and comfy-feeling."
 
Tony Visconti (co-producer to Bowie) agrees. "There was certainly some strange energy in that chateau," he says. "The master bedroom had a very dark corner, right next to the window, ironically, that seemed to just suck light into it. It was colder in that corner, too. I took the bedroom because I wanted to test my meditation abilities. I never admitted this before. I had read that Buddhists in Tibet meditated all night in a graveyard to test their level of fear/no fear. It felt like it was haunted as all fuck, but what could Frederic and George really do to me, scare me in French? I loved the look of the room so I decided to spend one night there. If something happened I planned to shout so loud I'd wake up the village. (Brian) Eno claimed he was awakened early in the morning with someone shaking his shoulder. When he opened his eyes, no-one was there."
 
Ricky Gardiner (guitarist) offers a theory about Eno's eerie encounters. "I can confirm that Brian had a bad cough from time to time," he says. "He was staying in the room that Chopin had used. Chopin died of consumption. You may make what you like of that!"
 

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