David Bowie—a.k.a. Ziggy Stardust, the Thin White Duke, Aladdin Sane and Major Tom—is gone but surely not forgotten. Celebrating David Bowie, a tour starring Bowie musicians who worked with him on stage and in the studio, keeps his music alive in concert.
Celebrating David Bowie music director Mike Garson performed more than 1,000 shows with Bowie. During Celebrating Bowie performances, the keyboardist said, “The real joy for me comes from hearing the audience sing every word with us. It’s an incredible, spiritual singalong-on-steroids show—like having a chorus of 2,000 with us.”
For Celebrating David Bowie’s winter tour of North America, Garson joins fellow Bowie band alumni Earl Slick, Gerry Leonard, Carmine Rojas and Mark Plati. The group’s singers include Rolling Stones backup vocalist Bernard Fowler and Grammy nominee Gaby Moreno. Special guests join in throughout the tour.
The 27-date Celebrating David Bowie tour of the United States, Canada and Mexico follows sold-out shows in France and the United Kingdom. “The applause in Europe was as loud as any of the shows I did with David,” Garson marveled. “Of course, we didn’t have David, and I miss that.”
Garson experiences emotional moments at every Celebrating David Bowie performance, he said. “We loved each other deeply and respected each other,” he said. “I try to be professional and not fall apart, but there’s hasn’t been a show where I haven’t gotten emotional at some point. We know life is life, but David’s life was cut short. I would have loved to have done another tour with him.”
During Bowie’s lifetime, Garson received many offers to be in Bowie tribute bands. “Why would I do that when I can play with the real guy?” he asked. “But now that the real guy is somewhere else, I feel good about paying respect to David’s music. With four or five alumni, the band is great. We’re not a tribute band. We played on his albums throughout the different phases of his life.”
Garson’s admiration for Bowie has only grown through the years. “I think he surpassed the Beatles and Bob Dylan. Not only because of his 50 years of singing, producing and writing, but also his acting, sculpting and painting. And he was spiritual leader for his fans. He let them know it was okay to be themselves.
“David wasn’t just a pop star. He was a visionary and Renaissance man. I probably wouldn’t have said this to him when he was alive. Wherever he is now, he’s probably laughing that I’m saying it now, but it’s the truth.”
Monday, March 19