David Bowie is rightly remembered as an incredible musician, a gifted songwriter and a fashion icon—but, somewhat bizarrely, he was also a pioneer in the establishment of the Internet as we know it today. It may sound a bit farfetched, but The Thin White Duke’s evolution alongside the online world throughout the latter part of his career was incredibly influential.
Acting as a bit of proof to that claim is this wonderful performance of ‘Wild Is the Wind’, the song made famous by Nina Simone and then championed by Bowie in the late seventies. In the clip below, Bowie sings the track as he collects two ‘Yahoo! Internet Awards’.
We’ve all seen the clip of David Bowie predicting the peaks and troughs of the Internet back in 1999. Sitting across from an obtuse and somewhat obnoxious Jeremy Paxman, Bowie makes some rather large claims about the freedom of the online world and how it will change the world. “The potential of what the Internet is going to do to society, both good and bad, is unimaginable,” he said with a wry smile.
The singer had been connecting with his fans directly using the internet for a few years when on July 31st, 2000, his website was awarded ‘Best Artist Site of the Year’ at the Yahoo! Internet Music Awards. The Starman would go on to attend the awards show at Studio 54 on behalf of BowieNet.
Bowie accepted the award, presented by Sandra Bernhard, with all the amused grace of someone with perfect vision for the future, someone who could see the prominence of the award show he was attending. As proof of such 20/20 foresight, the Starman was also awarded the prize for 2000 Online Pioneer Honoree, presented by Public Enemy’s Chuck D.
It’s always nice to hear Bowie accept awards. The singer is always graceful and poised with a hefty dose of charm, leaving a bundle of laughs, wrapping up a nugget of truth. But where he really shines is when the spotlight hits his face and he stands on the stage with a song to sing and an audience awaiting his next breath. Bowie with a mic—nothing could be better.
In 2000, after years of rejecting his ‘legend’ status, Bowie had once again decided to bring out the hits for special occasions. Perhaps beginning to accept his place as a legacy act, the singer had reneged on his pledge from the 1990s to avoid the greatest hits, and even at an awards show, like the Yahoo! Internet Music Awards, he would break out classic tunes like ‘Life On Mars’.
He wasn’t constricted to a certain setlist though as he picks one of his lesser-known songs to sing alongside it, the brilliant ‘Wild Is The Wind’. Bowie recorded the song originally for his 1976 Station to Station album and picked it back up in 1981 as a tribute to the track’s most iconic singer, Nina Simone. The only track on the record no written by Bowie, the singer admitted Simone’s version had “really affected me… I recorded it as a homage to Nina.”
By 2000, the track had started to slip off the setlists but he would change that during his mini-tour in the summer of that year. Bowie would not disappoint when he sang it for the audience in Studio 54 that night. What follows is a powerful rendition of the track and his romantic vocal is as clear and thrusting as it was back in 1976.
Watch David Bowie pay homage to Nina Simone with his performance of ‘Wild Is The Wind’ back in 2000.