There may have very well been cocaine and debauchery of epic proportions during the session, but according to Bowie, he would not have been part of it. The session took place in '81 and Bowie said the last time he did drugs was in the late '70s around the time his assistant CoCo decided he needed to leave America if he was to survive and persuaded him to move to Berlin.
It's certainly possible that he might have mixed up the years, but my experience is that drug addicts have an excellent memory of when they quit. Depending on whether or not they go cold turkey and suffer through a period of delirium they may not get the exact date right but they generally don't mistake the year. By '81 he would have been off drugs and I believe sober enough to gain custody of his son, Duncan "Zowie" Bowie.
It's interesting because it was around the time that he went off drugs that his career as a Pop Star
exploded. I had been a fan from almost the very beginning and so really didn't appreciate that prior to this time he had more of a cult status than that of mega-star. Personally, I like, for the most part, his earlier work better than the post 1980 material so I don't feel like the drug use was necessarily holding him back: At least not as a composer and performer. It may, though, have made a difference in terms of what is required to get a music label sufficiently behind you. I'm not sure.
Despite the lyrics to "Fame," mega-fame was pretty good to Bowie, but then he wrote "Fame' at pretty much the height of his drug use and from what I understand those were emotionally rough years for him. After the move to Berlin, though, his popularity sky rocketed as well as his bank account. I admit that I became less of a fan during that period, not necessarily because I though he had become too commercial or sold out, but more because what he was doing wasn't smack dab in the middle of my musical taste.
I would think that his appearance on Soul Train in 1975 had to be a highlight of his career. There's a rumor that he was drunk during the show, but if you watch the video clip he doesn't appear to be obviously inebriated, just nervous. Again, this was the zenith of his cocaine glory so if he was high I would think it would have been on blow, not booze. In any case he performed "Fame" and "Golden Years," (lip syncing as was par for the course on that show) and was well received by the Soul Train gang
; especially when he did his dance moves. The guy was cool, no doubt about it and those two songs were pretty in sync with what would have been popular to a black audience at the time. I'm sure it didn't hurt that he was British as there was probably a little less of a sense of cultural misappropriation.
I know if Vanilla Ice ever made to Soul Train, but I suspect that if he did, the audience may not have welcomed him as warmly as they welcomed The Thin White Duke,
In thinking back on all of the photos I found of him with a big dazzling smile on his face, it seems that they were mostly in latter years. He said in an interview that he wished he have never done drugs, but also like a lot of drug addicts this could have been primarily due to the fact that he wished he didn't go through all of the attendant horrors (especially those involved with quitting) I don't know many heavy drug users who ever lamented the feeling of getting high, just all the **** that can go with it. So it might be that life became a lot happier for him after he got off the cocaine et al. Certainly his life became more stable. Not often that you read of a rock star seeking custody of his children. His wife Angela was quite the party girl during their marriage. I really didn't know much about her other than she was party to Bowie's reported drug fueled, bi-sexual orgies and trysts with other Rock stars, but with his passing, I've learned more about her. Apparently she auditioned for the title role in the "Wonder Woman" series and that she, if not a fan of comic books, saw their film potential, purchasing the TV rights to Daredevil and the Black Widow and hoping to star in a series featuring them.
I don't know what the circumstance were around their son Zowie and whether or not it involved a custody battle
, but apparently Bowie wrote the song "Cracked Actor" about her. The song was released in 1973, well before their split in 1980 (coinciding with his quitting drugs), and the lyrics are hardly flattering so maybe they were having trouble long before they divorced. It may not say anything about her but she's currently a participant with the British TV version of "Celebrity Big Brother" and when she learned of Bowie's passing, she decided to stay in "the house." From what I understand the reaction from the British public has not been positive. She was only married to him for 9 years and if "Cracked Actor" is any indication, they may not have been a good 9 years so I'm not sure that her staying in the house is a big deal, except of course to Bowie fans who, in their grief, see it as insensitive. Just being on that show at age 67, though, definitely does say something about her, and nothing good in my opinion.
She was a fairly attractive woman in her early years and was involved with music as well as acting so I don't suppose it's surprising that Bowie took up with her initially. Maybe it was the hard living, but she hasn't aged particularly well and Bowie hit the jackpot with Iman who isn't terribly younger than Angela. She's 61 and is still stunning. By all accounts the marriage to Iman (1992) was a very happy relationship.