David Bowie Rings Out from One of Europe’s Iconic Church Towers on His Birthday

There’s a starman waiting in the… church bell tower? Maybe not an alien, after all, but someone who is definitely a very big David Bowie fan took to one of the more famous sacred spires in Europe Wednesday to let loose with a little Ziggy, presumably in honor of the late rocker’s Jan. 8 birthday.

A passer-by heard the “bells” ringing out with the strains of “Life on Mars?” and posted video of the performance to Twitter. “Just a 17th century church playing Bowie,” wrote Peter Gibbs, along with a clip of the “Hunky Dory” tune resounding beautifully (albeit in a not immediately recognizable key) from the tower of the Zuiderkerk, a Protestant church in Amsterdam that dates back almost 400 years.

“It was a lovely, unexpected experience,” Gibbs added, in response to queries from curious and delighted tweeters. “It was a bit surreal.”

Had he lived, Bowie would have been turning 73 Wednesday. He died four years ago this Friday.

The sound was neither “bells,” exactly, nor the computer program that some cynics suspected. As Gibbs explained, it’s actually a carillon, “played by bashing a wooden keyboard connected to the clappers by strings!” The carillon was installed in 1656, about 40 years after the tower was completed.

If patrons of the arts find the tower familiar but can’t place it, it was the subject of a painting by Monet, among other things.

Lest anyone suppose an incredibly hep man or woman of the cloth was pulling the strings: The Zuiderkerk, Amsterdam’s first Protestant house of worship, no longer functions as a church. After falling into disrepair, it was renovated and transformed into a municipal information center in the 1980s.


More Music

  • Rihanna

    Rihanna Pleads for Equality at NAACP Image Awards: 'Tell Your Friends to Pull Up'

    Rihanna was the recipient of the NAACP President’s Award. The honor is bestowed on an entertainer whose commitment to philanthropy is unparalleled. Rihanna, whose chosen charities include the Clara Lionel Foundation, Raising Malawi and UNICEF and was honored as Harvard’s Humanitarian of the Year in 2017, was in attendance for the NAACP Image Awards show, [...]

  • Lizzo51st Annual NAACP Image Awards, Arrivals,

    NAACP Winners 2020: The Complete List

    The 51st annual NAACP Awards took place Saturday night in Los Angeles with Lizzo being named Entertainer of the Year. Warner Bros.’ legal drama “Just Mercy” nearly swept the top film awards, taking home best motion picture, ensemble, best actor (Michael B. Jordan) and supporting actor (Jamie Foxx). Lupita N’yongo won the best actress prize [...]

  • Yung Gravy

    Rapper Yung Gravy Brings 'Minnesota Nice' to Twin Cities: Concert Review

    There has always been a place for humor in rap, with a lineage reaching back to the Beastie Boys’ debut album or 2 Live Crew’s raunchy records in the eighties. The caveat for “funny” rap being that if you go the humorous route, you need to have your bars land right, and to do so [...]

  • BTS

    BTS Opens Up About the Past, Creativity and Inspiration for 'Map of the Soul: 7' (Watch)

    With a reported four million copies in worldwide pre-orders and their stars shining brighter than ever thanks to chart-topping albums and playing the world’s biggest stages, BTS’ just-released “Map of the Soul: 7” was sure to be a success no matter what it sounded like. But instead of resting on starpower, the record-breaking group decided [...]

  • Naim McNair Named Def Jam Senior

    Naim McNair Named Def Jam Senior VP of A&R

    In what may be the first signal of the next era of Def Jam Recordings, Naim McNair has been named senior VP of A&R at the company. The move comes just hours after it was confirmed that Paul Rosenberg, chairman and CEO of the label since January of 2018, is leaving his post at the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content