Mike Garson, the longest-serving member of David Bowie’s group, worked 15 hours, seven days a week during his forties, to bring together more than 30 world-famous superstars for A Bowie Celebration: Just For One Day!, worldwide streaming “cinematic experience ”that embodies Bowie’s theatrical spirit on January 8 to rival Live Aid and Woodstock in the digital age. From Duran Duran to Peter Frampton, music legends who have worked closely with Bowie or who see him as a primary and required influence, will perform a wide range of covers of Bowie that exemplify the breadth of more than five decades of art that forever transformed musical innovation and counter-culture.
“His music is obviously deeper than a simple rock musician. Let’s face it. He has magic. A friend of mine had a dream he said it looked like the guy had three limbs, not two. He said that spiritually (Bowie) had an extra gift that we don’t have … and that’s right. And I saw him in 1,000 performances that I did with him. And I saw it in 20 albums. And I saw him as a friend. … I saw him on his last album. And I’ve seen it all my life.
The phenomenal roster of talent is testament to Bowie, who has consistently featured his band on stage, endlessly credited his mentors and muses, and relentlessly promoted the careers of emerging artists he admired. Without Garson, Bowie might never have reached his epitome of fame, becoming the Michelangelo who embodied his own. David.
Garson’s impact on Bowie’s legacy is profound and indispensable. It is impossible to imagine someone else putting together and tirelessly perfecting programming. Performers include Gail Ann Dorsey, Carlos Alomar, Tony Visconti, Earl Slick, Trent Reznor, Perry Farrell, Adam Lambert, YUNGBLUD, Andra Day, Michael C. Hall, Ian Hunter, Anna Calvi, Atticus Ross, David Sanborn, Rick Wakeman, Mott the Hoople, Kind Heaven Orchestra, Etty Lau Farrell, Ian Astbury, Billy Corgan, Gary Oldman, Boy George, Gavin Rossdale Joe Elliott, Macy Gray, Lzzy Hale, Bernard Fowler, Corey Glover, Judith Hill, Charlie Sexton, Everett Bradley, Matt Chamberlain, Ava Cherry, Richard Cottle, Greg Errico, Mark Guiliana, Taylor Momsen, Henry Hey, Emir Ksasan, Tony Levin, Geoff MacCormack, Andy Newmark, Pablo Rosario, Sterling Campbell, Gerry Leonard, Catherine Russell, Zack Alford, Kevin Armstrong , Alan Childs, Robin Clark, Emm Gryner, Omar Hakim, Clare Hirst, Erdal Kızılçay, Tim Lefebvre, Martha Mooke, Holly Palmer, Mark Plati, Carmine Rojas, Nandi Bushell, Mr Hudson, Gaby Moreno, Joe Sumner, Simon Westbrook and The Section quartet.
Duran Duran announced on January 7 that he will be releasing his new cover of Bowie’s Five years at midnight ET at launch the group’s 40e anniversary and offer a first tribute.
“My teenage life was all about David Bowie. He’s the reason I started to write songs. Part of me still can’t believe his death five years ago, but that ‘maybe it’s because there’s a part of me where he’s still alive and always will be. “When we had the Ziggy Stardust LP and put the needle in the groove, our first taste of its perfection was the song Five Years. I can’t begin to explain how honored I feel for Duran Duran to have the opportunity to play this icon, and to place our name alongside Bowie’s for this commemoration of his music. “
Garson gave in to my adoration for his inimitable artistry and amazing breakthroughs across genres in an almost 90-minute Zoom conversation from his home studio on Tuesday, taking me on a decades-long trip to the Bowieverse as resident and key colleague, deepening philosophy, faith, human nature and culture far beyond music. As we chatted, he blew me away, playing the piano to demonstrate the nuances that define his collaborations with Bowie, sharing his own unparalleled classical music improvisations with Liszt and Stravinsky, and surprises that await to explode from the event. January 8. The three-hour livestream is sure to delight any Bowie fan with renditions of songs that could only be arranged by Garson.
Best known for having been on stage with Bowie from 1972 until the last live performance in 2006, Brooklyn-born Garson, who “grew up with Bach and Beethoven” is the classical and jazz backbone of Bowie’s styles who challenge and transcend categorization. and put the two artists on a non-linear timeline that exists in its own galaxy.
Still preferring a quiet personal life, married for 52 years and a grandfather of seven children at 75, Garson retains his youthful exuberance as he prefers to perfect his craft rather than the vices. An essential part of The rise and fall of Ziggy Stardust and the spiders of Mars, on album, on stage, and as a sober influencer, Garson never fell prey to the abundance of drugs and the lustful lifestyle that fueled Bowie’s early years.
Even as the ultimate Bowiesphere Insider, Garson kicked off the Bowie chapter of his career as an alien, alien, into stellar glam rock extravagance.
“I was sneaking into the audience on the Spiders From Mars, Ziggy Stardust tours, I didn’t play all the songs. I play the piano on 10 songs and sit in the front row. They didn’t see me, and I watched the show when I wasn’t playing. And I thought, this guy is good, because I didn’t know him, ”Garson recalls. “I am also a jazz musician in the classical world. So when I got the call, I was intrigued, but I didn’t know him. While everyone I’ve spoken to (has said) it’s the soundtrack of their lives. So I learn about him through the interviews, through the fans.
From his humble roots playing in the Catskills, making ends meet at weddings and bar mitzvahs, Garson was truly from a different planet than Bowie. Yet the wacky red-haired rock god in the daring quilted two-piece suit Freddie Burretti knew how to look to a very different creature to achieve his lofty and singular artistic goals. Speaking openly to Garson, it’s obvious that as a voracious scholar of literature, religion, and philosophy, Bowie needed a core strength that allowed him to break musical boundaries as well.
Garson admitted to turning down gigs with big names like Nelson Riddle, Buddy Rich and Sarah Vaughan, “but I didn’t turn down David”.
“I think about it, you know,” he recalls fondly. “I knew something about him as an artist. But, uh, you know, I don’t even know how I got here. I was hired for eight weeks. And I ended up doing over 1,000 concerts with him and 20 albums. And we (had) totally different lifestyles … I mean, it doesn’t make sense, but, on the creative flow, we’re the same person.
Like Bowie, who has embraced all the arts, high and low, and borrowed the vast and unrecognized edges of the cultural fabric, Garson said before going on tour with the Spiders: “I was immersed in music, eight hours a day. day. Classic jazz, pop, rock, gospel, fusion. All I heard I was an absorbent sponge, inhabiting the music.
“And he, being the ultimate casting director, saw that in me, I knew I could add something to his music that now makes him different from the Rolling Stones or Bob Dylan and The Beatles, because he was ready to tolerate a very avant-garde solo on Aladdin Sané, or stride piano, you know, all that stuff, ”said Garson, whose conversation is as fluid and captivating as his music. “And who in rock music even knew what he understood?” We were talking about Charlie Mingus, Stan Kenton and Benjamin Britten.
Two dollars each ticket for the livestream will benefit Save the Children, a major charity for Bowie and the recipient of funds raised during his sold-out concert for his 50th birthday in 1997 at Madison Square Garden featuring numerous artists performing on January 8 .
Garson and I envisioned the rebirth of the performing arts scene once we are all vaccinated and public health is restored.
“It will be interesting to see, you know, how the live experience turns out after the pandemic, because obviously there will be a clamor for anything,” Garson said. “Will it just make a product easier?” Or garbage? Or will it create a need to really find … a new path for you, it’s cathartic? I think both. “