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david bowie weed drug arrest 1976
Courtesy Instagram / @ewbankauctions

The story behind David Bowie’s weed drug arrest with Iggy Pop

A newly unearthed 1976 mugshot shows the singer being arrested for smoking half a pound of weed

David Bowie and Iggy Pop’s stint in Berlin in the late 1970s has become one of the most iconic periods in modern music history, seeing the pair share an apartment and churn out classic albums such as Low, Heroes, and Lust for Life as they tried to kick their respective drug addictions.

Bowie and Iggy were already good friends before the move to Europe, though, and before peeling themselves away from the drug culture of Los Angeles the rockstars played together on Bowie’s 1976 Station to Station tour. Unsurprisingly, they also partied pretty hard, in what was presumably a drawn-out final bender before their last-ditch attempt at sobriety.

A photo sold in a Ewbank’s auction last week reveals the aftermath of one of their notorious afterparties in the middle of the tour. More specifically, it’s a black and white mugshot of Bowie, taken after he was arrested on drug charges in Rochester, New York, following a show at the Community War Memorial Arena.

Alongside Iggy Pop, the Thin White Duke and two others were charged with marijuana possession after police confiscated “about half a pound” of weed from the Americana Rochester Hotel (surely not the worst they could have found if they looked hard enough). All four were held in custody before being released on bail for $2,000 – almost half of what was paid for the mugshot last week. Charges were dropped after Bowie plead not guilty, but it’s said that he never played in Rochester again.

According to Ewbank’s, the photo landed in the seller’s hands as a wedding present from his cousin’s husband (AKA the police officer who fingerprinted and photographed Bowie). The seller kept it hidden away for 46 years before putting it up for auction on July 15, when it exceeded estimates to rake in £3,800.

Looking back on the 1976 period of drug use that preceded his arrest, in 2004, Bowie would admit that he only remembered “flashes” of producing Station to Station, saying: “I know it was in LA because I’ve read it was.”

Take a look at Bowie’s mugshot below, and find the auction listing here.