David Bowie in Singapore

The rock legend David Bowie died Sunday before last at the age of 69. He will be missed by all his fans, not least those in Singapore. In 1983 Bowie took his Serious Moonlight tour to Singapore, Hong Kong, and Bangkok. His Singapore promotor was none other than Goh Poh Seng, doctor, poet, playwright, novelist, and nightclub owner. Goh’s youngest son, Kagan Goh, wrote about their encounters with the rock icon in a Facebook post. In the post, he remembers how Dr. Goh invited Bowie and his musicians to a classical Chinese concert at his home. When Bowie declined, explaining that he did not “fraternize with concert promoters,” Dr. Goh sent a message to Bowie’s personal assistant, asking him to tell Bowie that “he is only a rock star. I, however, am a poet.” According to Kagan Goh, the musician went to the Gohs’ home and apologized handsomely.

To remember his time in Asia, Bowie asked the then up-and-coming filmmaker Gerry Troyna to direct a film of the tour. Mr Troyna, now 67, told The Straits Times that the experience had the quality of a “whirlwind.” The result was a 78-minute long documentary called Ricochet. The Singapore portion, filmed over three days, lasts about 20 minutes. The video clip below, an excerpt from the film, shows David Bowie chatting with a Singapore taxi driver about the government’s proposed ban on chewing gum (the ban went into effect in 1992) and the death penalty for drug trafficking. After the taxi chat, the film shows a montage of Singapore sights, accompanied by the national anthem “Majulah Singapura.”



Another clip shows Bowie moving endlessly on escalators. The scene was shot in Far East Plaza, a well-known shopping mall in the Orchard district. Lit like an aquarium, the scene has the quality of an Escher drawing.


About Jee Leong Koh

My book of poems Steep Tea (Carcanet) was named a Best Book of 2015 by UK's Financial Times, and a Finalist by Lambda Literary. I also wrote three other books of poems and a book of zuihitsu. My work has been shortlisted for the Singapore Literature Prize, and translated into Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Russian and Latvian. Originally from Singapore, I live in New York City, where I edit the arts blog Singapore Poetry, and run the Second Saturdays Reading Series and the Singapore Literature Festival in NYC.

One comment


    Bowie Me
    O dinamite Angel
    Let me sing Lazarus, Space Oddity…
    Others with You
    You, our High Reverence of the Star
    Swimming in our ears
    Omnibenevolent Lord of Virginity
    Dedicated to the Prettiest One
    In Music and Life
    The uproar of your hand clapping
    Meaning behind Poetry.
    Maybe You are just crazy
    But do not reject these teachings
    As false
    Because we are crazy¡
    King Love
    Sit and dream
    On the floor of my Rainbow
    Love has gotten me into
    All Your Channels. Ecstasy¡

    Everything I have waited for
    –Birth, death, The Next Day
    Is right inside this den
    Of mine.

    -Daniel de Cullá


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