Howard Stern's 60th birthday concert at Hammerstein Ballroom last week was one of the great parties of the year, with incredible performances by John Fogerty, the Black Keys, Dave Grohl and Steven Tyler with surprise guest Slash. That's not even mentioning hilarious appearances by Lena Dunham, Joan Rivers, Robert Downey, Jr., David Letterman, Louis C.K. and too many others to mention.
It got us thinking about his 44th birthday show back in January of 1998, also at Hammerstein Ballroom. It didn't quite have the star power of this one, but it did have a three-song set by David Bowie in addition to performances by Billy Joel and Megadeth. Howard is a lifelong Bowie fan, but until that night he'd never had him on his show. The entire night was a surprise for Stern, and Bowie's performance was the biggest shock of the whole thing. He played "Fame," "Hallo Spaceboy" and "I'm Afraid of Americans."
There wasn't much time for an interview, but in October of 1999 he did book an appearance to promote his new album Hours. Howard was incredibly excited, but Bowie was extremely ill with a stomach bug that week and had to cancel all his appearances. He never rescheduled. Stern still says that Bowie is near the top of his list of dream guests, but it's unlikely that's going to happen anytime soon. Bowie released The Next Day (his first album in a decade) about a year ago, but he didn't promote it with a single interview, concert or promotional appearance.
This article originally appeared on Rolling Stone: Flashback: David Bowie Plays Howard Stern's 44th Birthday Bash in 1998