1990s – part one

David Bowie kicked off the 1990s with another world tour, Sound + Vision, a greatest hits outing after which he hoped to retire some of his best-known songs. It was the next step in a creative renaissance which had begun in 1998 with the formation of Tin Machine.

Sound + Vision opened in Quebec on 4 March 1990, and finished in Buenos Aires on 29 September. It was longer than both Serious Moonlight and Glass Spider, taking in 108 concerts in 27 countries.

Tin Machine regrouped once Bowie came off the road, to complete the Tin Machine II album, which was released in September 1991. They followed it with the It’s My Life Tour, which lasted from October 1991 to February 1992 and resulted in the live album Oy Vey Baby.

In a Rolling Stone interview, published to coincide with the start of the In My Life tour, Bowie spoke about his previous doubts regarding drug use and creativity, and his new resolve to be sober.

Up until the early Eighties, I had absolutely no doubt that I wouldn’t be able to do anything good musically if I stopped doing cocaine. I now think that’s absolute bullshit. It’s the great lie.
David Bowie
Rolling Stone, 31 October 1991

The precise reasons for Tin Machine’s demise have never been fully explained, and were likely a combination of poor sales, critical hostility, and Bowie’s desire to move on to new creative pastures.

I look back on the Tin Machine years with great fondness. They charged me up. I can’t tell you how much. Then personal problems within the band became the reason for its demise. It’s not for me to talk about them, but it became physically impossible for us to carry on. And that was pretty sad really.
David Bowie
Uncut, October 1999

There were persistent whispers of drummer Hunt Sales’ drug problems, although guitarist Reeves Gabrels later downplayed it as an issue.

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I have to say that in the whole time – two tours, two albums – I never saw anything. Tony to this day, from the time of his automobile accident, was strictly teetotal. Hunt was a hobbyist. He would smoke pot or do whatever he wanted in his own time, which everyone is entitled to do. I’m sure there were times when I was aware of things that were going on but it certainly would not have included Tony. Tony’s sobriety is a very precious thing to him.
Reeves Gabrels
Strange Fascination, David Buckley

Carlos Alomar claimed that Bowie was troubled by Hunt Sales’ drug use, citing it as a contributory factor for Tin Machine’s split.

I did find out that David was very unhappy during the Tin Machine stuff. He was very unhappy because of the drug problem they had with one of the band members, Hunt Sales. It’s a terrible blow when you find that one of the band members is lying to you and, more importantly, lying to himself. David was depressed because of his inability to deal with that drug problem. You know, if you get ready to do a show and one of the members is totally out of it, it’s gonna affect you considerably. Particularly when the die is cast and you’ve thrown yourself in with the lot of them. What are you gonna do?
Carlos Alomar
Strange Fascination, David Buckley