BY Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
David Bowie’s longtime keyboardist, Mike Garson, is preparing for a “monstrous” livestream that will feature at least 31 fellow alumni and 25 singers.
Ian Astbury of The Cult; William Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins; Joe Elliott of Def Leppard; Perry Farrell of Jane’s Addiction; Corey Glover of Living Color; Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails and Gavin Rossdale of Bush are among the guest vocalists who signed on for the Friday, January 8, “Mike Garson’s A Bowie Celebration.”
“Every day, more singers and musicians keep coming on board because it’s an easy ask during the pandemic,” Garson says. “Nobody’s doing anything.”
Bush’s latest album, “The Kingdom: Deluxe Edition,” features a cover of Bowie’s “Heroes” with Garson on piano.
“It began with a track I did for him for MusiCares,” Rossdale says. “He rang me up a couple weeks ago and asked me to perform for the five-year anniversary of David’s death. There are going to be several singers. To play with Bowie’s band again is going to be great. I played with them when David died. I love it. It’s a real honor.”
Garson says his Bowie tribute shows and this livestream are bittersweet.
“I’ve been traveling the last four years doing shows with alumni, playing David’s music,” he says. “I’ve done about 150 shows, and about 100 singers have joined us on these tours.”
“Mike Garson’s A Bowie Celebration” will be available for 24 hours.
“It’s just a lot of work,” Garson says. “I’m sure you can imagine because each person has their song they want to do, and which musicians am I using on which song, who’s recording what and in what studio.”
Singers and performers are recording bits in Switzerland, Canada, Los Angeles, England and New York. Garson creates music for it for about 15 hours a day, seven days a week. The show is slated to be more than three hours. Livestreams, he says, are the new paradigm.
“It’s a new way of doing things,” Garson says. “It could turn out to be a financial disaster or it could turn out to be great or average. Most importantly, I just want 100,000 people to see it because you’re never going to get this many stars in one show.”
The number of participants is really a testament to Bowie’s ability to appeal to musicians and beyond.
“There’s been a lot of great, great artists over the years, but the influence that he’s had on other singers who came after him—in fashion and in acting—is the largest of any artists I’ve ever seen,” Garson says.
“He’s had the widest net. I’ve probably played for over 1,000 singers in my life as a performer and he’s, by far, the best. I hate to compare. He’s just such an artist. I was hired for eight weeks, and I ended up doing 1,000 shows and 20 albums. I obviously liked it.”