Just before we went to Berlin I signed up for a Berlin Music Tour. On Wednesday morning I met the guide, Thilo, outside the Adlon Kemplinski hotel in Unter Den Linden, just by the Brandenburg Gate. The area was being prepared for the World Athletic games and several concert stages were being set up. While meeting the other guests, Thilo pointed out the Adlon window from which Michael Jackson had dangled his baby (since parodied in a dozen videos, some from the same window). Thilo is a radio DJ who has worked as a sound man on the Berlin scene for years; he’d met Jackson a few times and obviously had some sympathy and affection for him. The first stop on the tour was the one I’d anticipated most eagerly, Hansa studios.
Unfortunately, while it’s still a studio, the room where Bowie recorded Heroes is now a function suite and the control room is the bar.
Here’s the room musicians called ‘the big room by the Wall’ as it is now, and as it was when Heroes was being recorded:
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We then went to the control room which, unusually, was quite separate from the recording room and connected by a video link. A full account of the recording is here, but Thilo also reported a story from the engineer, who, said how when they started at Hansa for Iggy’s album The Idiot, it was dark. The engineer went into the control room and indicated the East German border guards with their guns just over the wall. The engineer then flashed the control room lights, and Bowie and Iggy immediately ducked behind the furniture, thinking they were going to be shot at.
The control room (with Thilo) – now the bar – and the window, now and then (photo of a photo, sorry). The guards tower is the little grey box above the central building.
That was Hansa. More to come from Berlin.