David Bowie’s Hit Song ‘Heroes’ Was Inspired By a Somali Book Both He and His Wife Iman Loved

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David Bowie was beloved by millions of people around the world for his music as well as his character. The British music icon was married to supermodel Iman for over two decades. And even now, years after his death, their love is still as strong as ever.

David Bowie married Iman in 1992

Iman moved to New York from Somalia in 1975 to pursue modeling. She was a big fish thrown into a small pond, but over the years, Iman rose to become one of the world’s leading supermodels.

In 1990, she met David Bowie on a blind date set up by a friend. They married two years later.

Iman and David Bowie smiling for a photo
Iman and David Bowie | Jim Spellman/WireImage

David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’ is inspired by the Somali book ‘A Grave For a Dolphin’

Bowie, of course, was successful in his own industry when he and Iman married. One of his biggest songs was his 1977 single “Heroes” from the iconic album of the same name. He was reportedly inspired to create the song after watching two lovers kissing next to the Berlin Wall in Germany.

In the foreword to her 2001 memoir I Am Iman, Bowie revealed that the song was inspired by the 1956 book A Grave For a Dolphin by Alberto Denti di Pirajno. “I thought it a magical and beautiful love story and in part it had inspired my song ‘Heroes,’” he said.

Iman reiterated the story in a 2021 interview with Vogue. “This is a very fantastical journey between a girl — and you won’t believe it, but a Somali girl — and a dolphin,” she said. “And this book is really special because, funny enough, way before David and I met, this was one of his favorite books. And actually, he told me that some of the lyrics from his song ‘Heroes’ were actually inspired by this book.

“And then of course, finally when we meet, we can’t believe that we both adore the same book.”

Iman’s love for Bowie lives on today

Bowie died in 2016, and Iman admitted in an interview on The Tamron Hall Showthat she struggled with grief for a number of years after his death. It wasn’t until the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that Iman was forced to stay in their home and confront the grief head-on.

Now, Iman smiles when she thinks about her late husband, and feels his presence in their large house in the Catskills. In fall 2021, she released a signature fragrance that pays homage to the love that the two stars shared. “Love Memoir” comes in an amber bottle — the color of the sunsets that she and Bowie both loved; the hammered-gold cap was inspired by Iman’s African heritage.

“Grief came knocking at the door, and stayed for a while,” she admitted. “And I was grateful to it because now I was on my own, and I was given, like everybody, the time to deal with it, the solitude to deal with it, cry it out, don’t sleep all night, it’s O.K. And then it passed.”