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28.02.2023, Words by Billy Ward

50 years of David Bowie's 'Aladdin Sane' album to be celebrated at Southbank Centre

"We’re honoured to pay tribute to David Bowie, who made his debut at the Southbank Centre in 1969..."

David Bowie's 'Aladdin Sane' album is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a series of events at the Southbank Centre

Kicking off on April 6 for two months, 'Aladdin Sane: 50 Years' will explore the iconic artwork behind the record, including the original portrait of Bowie by renowned photographer Brian Duffy as well as a concert featuring acts from Anna Calvi to Scissor Sisters' Jake Shears playing the 1973 record in full.

The exhibition has been curated by Duffy’s son Chris and Geoff Marsh and looks at the photographer's long-term collaboration with the singer who he worked with for subsequent albums including 1979’s critically acclaimed 'Lodger'.

Speaking about the cultural impact of the album, Chris Duffy said: “My father’s image of Bowie is often called the Mona Lisa of Pop. It’s important to remember it was the result of a short studio shoot using film, which then had to be sent out for commercial processing. There were no instant digital images or photoshop then.

“It’s extraordinary how it’s lasted and been endlessly reworked. Wherever I go in the world, it’s always somewhere on a t-shirt.”

Southbank Centre Artistic Director Mark Ball commented on the exhibition: “We’re honoured to pay tribute to David Bowie, who made his debut at the Southbank Centre in 1969.

“The Aladdin Sane album cover portrait is considered to be one of the most influential pop culture images of the past half century, and the music remains fresh and contemporary, so we wanted to recognise this major anniversary and reflect on the album and its artwork’s enduring legacy.

“It’s a work that continues to inspire today’s contemporary artists and the gender fluidity of the images still resonate deeply in queer culture in the UK and across the world.”

Read next: Unseen photos of David Bowie and Freddie Mercury on display at new Denis O'Regan exhibition

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