Happy Birthday Bowie – relive his most awesome party, attended by Smashing Pumpkins, Foo Fighters and more

Bowie knew how to celebrate in style

If you went down to New York’s Madison Square Garden on David Bowie’s birthday in 1997, you’d have witnessed a spectacular sight – The Thin White Duke himself on stage. But if you went only to night two, you would have been treated to something even more incredible – Bowie’s very own birthday party, complete with a host of A-list guests.

And just who showed up to help celebrate one of the music world’s biggest legends as he hit the big 5-0? Um, only Pixies’ Frank Black, The Cure’s Robert Smith, Foo Fighters, Sonic Youth, Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan, and one of his best pals, Lou Reed. No big deal!

David Bowie Robert Smith 50th birthday
Robert Smith and David Bowie CREDIT: KMazur/WireImage


Throughout the night, those special guests joined him one-by-one to deliver covers, obscurities, and hits perfect for “getting partyfied” (as the birthday boy himself put it). Many of Bowie’s biggest songs were missing from the setlist (no ‘Ziggy Stardust’, no ‘Modern Love’, Let’s Dance’, for example), but at least he had the generosity to let those in attendance hear ‘Moonage Daydream’, ‘Space Oddity’, and ‘Heroes’.

David Bowie Lou Reed 50th birthday
Lou Reed and David Bowie CREDIT: KMazur/WireImage

“I wouldn’t have expected to have such an appetite for life at this point,” Bowie told the New York Daily News at the time. “I had assumed, like romantic poetic heroes, that I would burn it all out. But nothing has been quenched. I’m still feeling fiery.” Wouldn’t you, if you could throw a 50th birthday party like that?

David Bowie 50th birthday
Thurston Moore, Kim Gordon, Dave Grohl, Robert Smith, David Bowie, Billy Corgan, Pat Smear, Kim Gordon and guests CREDIT: Kevin Mazur Archive/WireImage

Celebrate what would have been Bowie’s 72nd birthday by rewatching the whole concert below now.

The setlist


‘Little Wonder’
‘The Hearts Filthy Lesson’
‘Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)’ (with Frank Black)
‘Fashion’ (with Frank Black)
‘Telling Lies’
‘Hallo Spaceboy’ (with Foo Fighters)
‘Seven Years In Tibet’ (with Dave Grohl)
‘The Man Who Sold The World
‘The Last Thing You Should Do’ (with Robert Smith)
‘Quicksand’ (with Robert Smith)
‘Battle For Britain (The Letter)’
‘The Voyeur Of Utter Destruction (As Beauty)’
‘I’m Afraid Of Americans’ (with Sonic Youth)
‘Looking For Satellites’
‘Under Pressure’
‘Queen Bitch’ (with Lou Reed)
‘I’m Waiting For The Man’ (with Lou Reed)
‘Dirty Blvd.’ (with Lou Reed)
‘White Light/White Heat’ (with Lou Reed)
‘Moonage Daydream’
‘Happy Birthday To You’ (performed by Gail Ann Dorsey)
‘All The Young Dudes’ (with Billy Corgan)
‘The Jean Genie’ (with Billy Corgan)
‘Space Oddity’