Heroes was released as a single in September 1977. It only reached No.24 in the UK, and didn’t chart at all in the US. But the emotional power of the song would continue to resonate, as it became one of Bowie’s theme songs, along with the likes of Space Oddity and Changes. Its most memorable moment would come 10 years later, when he performed it live at the Platz der Republik Festival, right across from the studio in Berlin where it was conceived.
“I’ll never forget that,” he recalled. “It was one of the most emotional performances I’ve ever done. I was in tears. They’d backed up the stage to the Wall itself so that it was acting as our backdrop. We kind of heard that a few of the East Berliners might actually get the chance to hear the thing, but we didn’t realise in what numbers they would. And there were thousands on the other side that had come close to the wall. So it was like a double concert, where the Wall was the division. And we would hear them cheering and singing along from the other side. God, even now I get choked up. It was breaking my heart. I’d never done anything like that in my life. And I guess I never will again.
“When we did Heroes it really felt anthemic, almost like a prayer,” Bowie continued. “I’ve never felt it like that again. However well we did it later, it was almost like walking through it compared to that night because it meant so much more. That’s the town where it was written, and that’s the particular situation that it was written about. It was just extraordinary.
“In 2002 we did it in Berlin again. This time, what was so fantastic – it was in the Max Schmeling Hall, which holds about ten to fifteen thousand – is that half the audience had been in East Berlin that time way before. So now I was face-to-face with the people I had been singing it to all those years ago. And we were all singing it together. Again, it was powerful. Things like that really give you a sense of what a song and performance can do.”
read the whole darn thing at Source: Heroes by David Bowie: The Story Behind The Song | Louder