So I can finally talk now,
It seems like everything to do with David these days is a secret !
I was asked to help put together a fitting tribute to David Bowie for the Brit awards this year.
It was a great honor to get all the members of Davids last touring band back together for one last time. Lorde was chosen as the guest singer and we set to work.
We ended up with an 8 song overture and Lorde sang Life on Mars. We kept it simple and authentic and ended up with an intense and personal piece.
I will paste some press pieces below to tell the story better here as I franticly pack to get home from London
Well, the Brits got something right. Their tribute to Bowie was powerful and affecting, showing up Lady Gaga’s Grammy award extravaganza for the superficial, soulless travesty it was.
Nineteen-year-old New Zealand songstress Lorde delivered a sombre version of one of David Bowie’s greatest songs, Life On Mars, backed by musicians who played with Bowie for decades.
With Mike Garson on piano, Gail Anne Dorsey on bass, Gerry Leonard and Earl Slick on guitars, they delivered a dark, moody rendering of a big, complex song of one of that classic that was all the more emotional for its sense of dignity and restraint.
Lady Gaga at the Grammys last week went so over the top, her ridiculous mash-up of 10 hits turned into a Bowie cabaret medley that was really all about Gaga, putting the focus on costume changes and digital computer effects sponsored by Intel.
At the Brits the focus was all on the song – and on Bowie himself. An awards ceremony that usually likes comedians and models to present awards and cuts off musicians in the middle of acceptance speeches, actually let a couple of people who knew what they were talking about speak at length and in depth about Bowie.
Annie Lennox got words and phrases into her speech that have surely never been heard at a Brits ceremony before. Bowie’s close friend, the actor Gary Oldman picked up an icon gong on his behalf, and told us about how Bowie broke the bad news of terminal cancer to him, but added the good news: “I’ve got my cheekbones back.”
Then an elegantly trouser-suited Lorde got up and sang with a trembling intensity that brought a song written 35 years before she was even born to vivid life. The parting shot of Bowie saluting was heartbreaking.
Both Lady Gaga and Lorde represented interesting choices to pay tribute as artists working in some part of the wide field Bowie made his own. Gaga harks back to the androgyny and sci-fi outlandishness of his glam years, yet is somehow too strenuously pop and eagerly careerist to really represent Bowie’s outsider strangeness.
She is a fascinating pop star but sometimes she just seems to try too hard. Lorde was chosen because Oldman told her Bowie was a big fan and called her “the future of music”. It was easy on this evidence to understand why.
From the outset, the teenager has come at music from her own angle, with a core of arty individuality and internal conviction rarely found in mainstream commercial pop. She sang that wonderful, mysterious song as if it came from somewhere deep inside.
The Brits Awards are often compared unfavourably to the usually more star-studded and spectacular American Grammy awards, but there are some occasions when a little modesty, restraint and seriousness beats any big budget extravaganza.
Earlier this month, America paid tribute to David Bowie with a futuristic Grammy performance by Lady Gaga that utilized all manner of space-age technology. But on Wednesday night in London, the Brit Awards celebrated the life of the Ziggy Stardustperformer via more emotional, stripped-down means—with a medley performance by Lordeand Bowie’s touring band members, who reunited for the first time in over 10 years for the occasion. (To see Lorde’s Bowie tribute, scroll ahead to the 2:24:28 mark in the stream below.)
Before the performance, Bowie’s friend Gary Oldman took the stage to accept an award on Bowie’s behalf and share some moving words about the late legend.
“In recent years, David sparingly spoke about music and his process,” Oldman told the Brit Awards audience. “But in one of these rare instances, he graciously and eloquently expounded, ‘Music has given me over 40 years of extraordinary experiences. I can’t say that life’s pains or more tragic episodes have been diminished because of it, but it has allowed me so many moments of companionship when I have been lonely and a sublime means of communication when I wanted to touch people. It has been both the doorway of my perception, and the house I live in.”
Choking up, the actor added, “David was funny—hilariously so. The laughs were many and massive, and I should miss them. . .David faced his illness with enormous courage, dignity, and customary humor—even in dire circumstances. When he wrote to tell me the bad news, that he had cancer, he added, ‘The good news is I’ve got my cheekbones back.’”
Oldman ended the tribute by saying, “He was the sweetest soul ever. . . David, you were mortal but your potential was superhuman and your remarkable music is living on. We love you and we thank you.”