Musical Chameleon: Performers come together to celebrate David Bowie

Adrian Belew, the former music director for David Bowie, honors the musician with the Celebrating David Bowie series of concerts. (Submitted)

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

Former David Bowie music director Adrian Belew misses the legendary “thin white duke,” who died in 2016 at age 69.

“He was a super person to be around,” Belew says. 

“There was something about him. He was so knowledgeable about so many subjects and so curious. He was very self-deprecating about being so famous. It was endless with David. Whenever I was with him, I knew some fun thing was going to happen.”

A renowned musician in his own right, Belew is working through grief and honoring Bowie the best way he can — with his series of live shows, Celebrating David Bowie.

“I love playing for David’s audience,” he says. “It’s work and I get paid for it, but I just feel like it’s music that should be kept alive. I don’t know if I’ll be able to do this every year. While we have it and we can do it property, I think we do a really good job at it.”

The jaunt comes to the Linda Ronstadt Music Hall in Tucson on November 12 and the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix on November 13. 

Celebrating David Bowie returns with Todd Rundgren, featured artist Scrote (born Angelo Bundini) and singers Royston Langdon of Spacehog, Angelo Moore of Fishbone, and Jeffrey Gaines. 

They are joined by saxophonist Ron Dziubla, Narada Michael Walden bassist Angeline Saris, and drummer Travis McNabb.

“We have five different singers in the band,” Belew says. “That’s the way we determine what material we can do and what the show can be comprised of. 

“There’s myself, Scrote, Royston, Todd and Angelo. Each one of us does some part of David’s career that works best for us. I do some of the stuff that I worked on with him, ‘Pretty Pink Rose’ and ‘Boys Keep Swinging.’ I also do ‘Fame,’ ‘Sound + Vision’ and ‘Starman.’”

Belew says Bowie recruited him while looking for someone “to go wild on guitar and make a lot of interesting sounds, too.

“That really opened the door to me to not only accommodate that, but for other people to see me doing that. I don’t know that I would have gone on to play with Talking Heads or King Crimson had it not been for that kind of exposure.

“He was so experienced and such a superstar. In the 1990 tour, we had a private jet and every accoutrement that all the rock star people have. Just to do that, to travel to 27 countries, that was such an amazing experience. He enriched my life.”

Bowie challenged Belew’s musical prowess as well, as his music evolved throughout the years. 

“If fans didn’t like the current stage he was in, the next record would be different anyway,” Belew adds. “He was a musical chameleon. That’s another thing that worked in my favor. You could be artful and you could change, and your audience would change with you. 

“A lot of bands do stay in the same place throughout their career. I prefer David’s method.”

“Celebrating David Bowie”

WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday, November 12

WHERE: The Linda Ronstadt Music Hall, formerly Tucson Music Hall, 260 S. Church Avenue, Tucson

COST: Tickets start at $35



WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Sunday, November 13

WHERE: Celebrity Theatre, 440 N. 32nd Street, Phoenix

COST: Tickets start at $40