Belew and Bowie

"I walked over to David Bowie and shook his hand and said, ‘Thank you for the music, I love what you do,’ and he said, ‘Great, how’d you like to be in my band?”

January 19, 2016 21:39
1 minute read.
David Bowie

David Bowie.. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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One of Adrian Belew’s career highlights was his tenure with David Bowie, who died earlier this month at age 69.

Frequent Bowie collaborator Brian Eno brought Belew’s extraordinary guitar work with Frank Zappa to the Thin White Duke’s attention in 1978, and Bowie attended a Zappa show.

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“There was a part in the show where Frank played an extended guitar solo, and some of his band members would leave the stage, myself included,” Belew told Newsweek magazine.

“As I was leaving, I looked over at the sound board and saw David Bowie and Iggy Pop standing there. And I walked over to David Bowie and shook his hand and said, ‘Thank you for the music, I love what you do,’ and he said, ‘Great, how’d you like to be in my band?” Within a few months Belew was on the road with Bowie and later played an integral role in his 1979 album Lodger, the third and final entry of Bowie’s Berlin triology following Heroes and Low.

“The first thing that Brian [Eno] and David said to me was ‘We think we’re calling this record Planned Accidents, and we want to get your accidental responses to the music,’” Belew said, explaining that the pair had him listen and play along to tracks he had never heard before and didn’t even know the key of.

“I would try to figure out as it’s going,” Belew said. “I would get maybe two or three tries. But usually by the third try I would know something. That’s not what they were listening for. Then they would take their tracks, and they would make a composite of their favorite moments of me trying to figure out how to play along with the song.”

Belew continued teaming up with Bowie, acting as musical director for his 1990 Sound+Vision tour.

“It was pretty unexplainable to be on tour with David Bowie,” he told Newsweek. “He’s such a superstar, and yet you have a personal relationship with him where you’re eating with him, laughing and talking every day.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

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