In 1992, David Bowie performed at an AIDS benefit concert in memory of the late Freddie Mercury of the band Queen, with whom Bowie had a history of collaboration.
The concert was sold out, with more than 72,000 fans filling London’s Wembley Stadium. During his set, after performing his song “Heroes”, Bowie did something unexpected for a rock concert, and something that even surprised the other musicians on stage. He knelt and recited the “Our Father” for both Mercury and another friend who was ill with AIDS at the time. Brian May, guitarist of Queen, was surprised and said afterward, “He didn’t do that during rehearsals.”
In an interview, Bowie spoke about why he prayed in front of 72,000 people: I decided to do it about five minutes before I went on stage. Coco [Schwab, Bowie’s long-term personal assistant] and I had a friend called Craig who was dying of AIDS. He was just dropping into a coma that day. And just before I went on stage something just told me to say the Lord’s Prayer. The great irony is that he died two days after the show.
“I decided to do it about five minutes before I went on stage. Coco [Schwab, Bowie’s long-term personal assistant] and I had a friend called Craig who was dying of AIDS. He was just dropping into a coma that day. And just before I went on stage something just told me to say the Lord’s Prayer.”
“….In rock music, especially in the performance arena, there is no room for prayer, but I think that so many of the songs people write are prayers. A lot of my songs seem to be prayers for unity within myself. On a personal level, I have an undying belief in God’s existence. For me it is unquestionable.”
“….Looking at what I have done in my life, in retrospect so much of what I thought was adventurism was searching for my tenuous connection with God. I was always investigating, always looking into why religions worked and what it was people found in them. And I was always fluctuating from one set of beliefs to another until a very low point in the mid-Seventies where I developed a fascination with black magic… And although I’m sure there was a satanic lead pulling me towards it, it wasn’t a search for evil. It was in the hope that the signs might lead me somewhere.”
Bowie died after a battle with cancer on January 10, 2016, just two days after his 69th birthday. The last words his wife Iman tweeted before his death were: “The struggle is real, but so is God.”