Although it’s probably not very well known, the late rock star David Bowie had a connection to Cyprus in the early seventies as his first wife Mary Angela Barnett was born in Ayios Dhometios in Nicosia on September 25, 1949 of English and Polish descent and with American citizenship.
Angela Barnett’s father was a mining engineer and ran a mill for Cyprus Mines Corporation (CMC). Her mother was Helena Maria Galas. She was educated in Cyprus and Switzerland and the UK. She met David Bowie in London in 1969, at the age of 19 and they were married a year later, and a son a year after that and divorced in 1980.
In 1950, Angie Barnett with her family moved to the US briefly and returned to Cyprus four years later and even after moving to the UK, she was a regular visitor to the island until 1974 and was on one of the last planes out of Nicosia airport during the Turkish invasion. In an article in 2000, entitled ‘Land of Passion, she said: I remember staying at the Ledra Palace hotel waiting for a seat to get out in 1974. I remember making love, it was dusk and then I had to go to the airport. We kissed our childhood goodbye. I have never been back. But now after writing this, I want to go back. I just can’t go as a tourist. I want to see my house and the places where I played. I don’t think they are there any more. So maybe one day, when I am content with lying on the beach, I’ll go visit the jewel of the Med. ‘visit’ not ‘go home’”.
The Bowie’s had holidayed in Xeros and Kyrenia in 1972, according to her account. “My then husband, David Bowie and I rented a villa and vacationed with the band in Kyrenia. David was very taken with the island. The first time I went back to Cyprus with him and our son, he drove me to Lefkara and bought beautiful hand-made lace for our dining room table and for the vanity in the bedroom. He was very sweet.”
Cyprus even featured in Bowie’s song ‘Move On’ in 1979 in which he sings: “Cyprus is my island/ When the going’s rough / I would love to find you / Somewhere in a place like that”.
In a Daily mail article published in 2013 written by Angie Bowie she also recalled a song he wrote for her ‘The Prettiest Star’ dating back to Christmas 1969. “I was staying with my parents in Cyprus when he phoned and sang it down the phone to me. Two days later, I was back in London and our first stop was the recording studio, where Marc Bolan was adding the guitar solo. I was crazy about Aladdin Sane, loved the songs, especially The Prettiest Star. That was the most personal. He wrote it for me,” she said.
In the 2000 article she writes all about her Cypriot childhood, remembering the time of the EOKA struggle, independence and after, the places she visited and the people she knew both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.
She also mentions the Cyprus Mail in the article, saying that in 1956 the British army had bivouacked CMC property. “I heard my folks discussing it at lunch. My dad said, “The British act as if the mine needs protection by them. It sends the wrong signal.”
“My father handed me a piece of the Cyprus Mail, the newspaper and said, “Baby, that article on the jack-ass that got hit by the truck is on page 2!”
Angie Bowie now 66 describes herself as “a Cypriot by disposition”.
“I don’t have a passport or Cypriot nationality but my heart is Cypriot, not Greek or Turkish Cypriot, just Cypriot. I enjoy a passionate love affair with my birthplace. Cyprus is in my heart. It was my home and everything I am: I owe to the magical garden I inhabited as a child.”