David and Angela Bowie travelled to Cyprus on 17 July 1972 for a two-week holiday.
They were joined by Bowie’s bassist Trevor Bolder and drummer Mick ‘Woody’ Woodmansey. Guitarist Mick Ronson was in Canada recording with Pure Prairie League.
They stayed in a villa in Kyrenia. David and Angie’s son Zowie remained at Haddon Hall in Beckenham.
During the holiday Bowie was involved in a collision with another car while driving just outside Kyrenia. His rental car was written off and he was shaken by the incident. He was charged with dangerous driving but the charges were dropped after he paid for the other driver’s damages.
We were all knackered, and Bowie especially needed a break, so he, Angie, Trevor and I jumped on a plane. Zowie stayed back at Haddon Hall with his nanny, and Mick had a production job to do in Canada with a band called Pure Prairie League, so it was just the four of us.
A friend of Angie’s lent us a house which was sparsely furnished but comfortable and someone Angie knew came in and cooked for us. We had a bedroom each, and it took us a while to get used to having lizards crawling on the ceilings in the rooms. The house also had a private beach – or at least I hope it was private, because I walked around naked some of the time. I got up earlier than everybody else, so I could take my clothes off without feeling embarrassed, and go for a swim. Being in Bowie’s band must have been making an impact on me: I never would have done that a couple of years before.
Cyprus was a beautiful place. The island was completely unspoiled, and it was a couple of years before it was split into Turkish and Greek territories, so you could go anywhere. There weren’t many other tourists there. I hired a car, although I’d never passed my driving test. I’d previously had lessons from my dad and so had a provisional licence, but, guess what, the lessons didn’t go very well. The car hire place was next to the police station and the two policemen knew I didn’t have a proper licence and they were fine with that. There wasn’t much in the way of traffic in the area where we were staying, though some of the roads had a steep 200-foot drop to the sea below. After one look over the edge, Trevor said, ‘Fuck off, Woods, let me drive this bit.’
We visited the markets and bought fabrics for clothes, as well as going snorkelling and taking out high-powered speedboats, which belonged to some of Angie’s friends. We drank the local ouzo and retsina and went out to eat in the evenings, smashing the plates afterwards in typical Greek style. It was a great holiday.
The whole time we were there Bowie was writing new songs; he didn’t rest that much. I never heard some of those songs again, ever, which is a shame because I thought they were really good. He was a pretty normal guy in a relaxed environment like this, although he wouldn’t talk about football, or cars, or politics, or any of that casual stuff that most people chat about; he liked to talk with a purpose. He was a good listener, too.
Spider From Mars: My Life With Bowie
The holiday ended with a turbulent flight back to London on 30 July.
Also on this day...
- 1974: Live: Bushnell Performing Arts Center, Hartford
- 1974: Recording, mixing: David Live
- 1973: Recording: Pin Ups
- 1969: Recording: Janine, An Occasional Dream
- 1966: Live: David Bowie and the Buzz, Playboy Club, London
- 1965: Live: Davie Jones and the Lower Third, Witch Doctor, St Leonards-on-Sea
Want more? Visit the David Bowie history section.