His relationship with cocaine, the drug he described as his “soul mate”,
proved to be one of the defining loves of his life.
At one point he was “taking so much it would have killed a horse,” according
to record producer Tony Visconti.
Looking back at his decade-long addiction, pop icon David, who died on Sunday
said: “It was easily obtainable and it kept me working . . . I wasn’t really
a recreational guy, I wasn’t really an out-on-the-town guy.
“I was much more, ‘OK, let’s write ten different projects this week and make
four or five sculptures.’
“And I’d just stay up 24 hours a day until most of that was completed. I loved
being involved in that creative moment.”
As with sex, David did not do cocaine in moderation. His transvestite lover
Romy Haag, who first met him in 1976, complained: “He was doing coke at the
time — not lines but bowls of it.”
While David had toyed with drugs as a teenager, they did not become a major
part of his life until his 1972 US tour.
As he later put it: “Ziggy Stardust was actually drug-free, apart from the
occasional pill — amphetamines, speed.
“When we first started doing Ziggy we were really excited and drugs weren’t
necessary. Then I went to America, got introduced to real drugs and it all
He told Rolling Stone magazine in 1976: “I never got into acid. I did it three
or four times and it was colourful, but my own imagination was already
“I never got into grass at all. Hash for a time, but never grass. I guess
drugs have been a part of my life for the past ten years, but never anything
“I’ve had short flirtations with smack and things, but it was only for the
mystery and the enigma. I like fast drugs.”
He certainly did, and cocaine is clearly the fastest of them all. It went on
to dominate his life.
In 1974, David checked into a lavish suite in Manhattan’s Sherry-Netherland
hotel, which would become his New York base for a year.
Here he entertained friends, lovers and fellow rock stars with impromptu jam
sessions — and masses of coke.
His childhood friend, singer Dana Gillespie, recalled: “Everybody did so much
coke that you fell asleep wherever you could.
“David would be strutting around on the guitar and Mick Jagger and I would be
playing duets, and then he and David would be mincing about.”
Playboy model Bebe Buell also hung out with David, his wife Angie and Jagger
at the hotel.
She said: “Mick was worried because David was doing so much cocaine that he
“One time we were in David’s suite and he asked us if we could see the angels
flying outside the window.”
On another occasion, David invited Alice Cooper to the hotel.
Author Steven Gaines, who was ghost-writing Cooper’s autobiography, said:
“David was kind of weird, reserved, and I couldn’t tell if he was stoned or
not. He certainly wasn’t especially clean.
“He had in his suite a colour Xerox machine, which in those days hadn’t been
around long, and he made each of us put our face forward on to the machine
and told us to keep our eyes open while he made portraits of us. He did that
to anybody who came up to the suite.
“I don’t think he and Alice really hit it off. It was really odd.”
David got on better with John Lennon, and they bonded over drugs, music and a
shared quirky sense of humour.
They often spent a night on the town with Tony Visconti, who recalled: “We
stayed up until 10.30am.
“We did mountains of cocaine, it looked like the Matterhorn, obscenely big,
and four open bottles of cognac.”
But David’s most enduring friendship was with Iggy Pop, the troubled singer
with whom he became obsessed.
When Iggy was in a psychiatric hospital in 1975, trying to kick his drug
habit, David came to visit him bearing gifts.