Celebrating the music of David Bowie


“It’s a really good mixture of songs that are lesser-known songs (and) more overt songs that everyone’s hoping for, like ‘Heroes’ and ‘Life On Mars’ and ‘Space Oddity,’” Belew, 72, said in a late-September phone interview. “There are things from ‘Ziggy (Stardust),’ there are things from ‘Young Americans,’ there are things from all facets of his career, the later career as well.

“It’s going to give you a great overview of the artist himself,” the singer/guitarist said. “I think if David saw this show, he’d be really happy.”

Belew is qualified to offer an opinion about how Bowie would view the tour, given the friendship that grew between the two, particularly on the “Sound + Vision” tour. Belew was offered the slot by Bowie on his 1978/79 tour on the recommendation of producer Brian Eno, who had witnessed Belew’s unconventional and singular guitar style at a Frank Zappa concert in Cologne, Germany, in 1977, when Belew was part of Zappa’s touring band.

Bowie’s offer created a dilemma.

“Well, I didn’t want to leave Frank. I really hoped to continue with Frank. But who can turn down David Bowie?” Belew said, noting that Zappa had told his band they’d soon have a four-month break from touring while he edited the film “Baby Snakes.” “David, when he approached me, said it would be a four-month tour. So I went to Frank after I found out it was a real offer, I remember I was in the back of the bus sitting there with him and I said ‘What do you think I should do?’ He said ‘I think you should go do the David Bowie show and then come back.’ We shook hands on that, but it didn’t work out that way. He started a new band and the Bowie tour went a year and a half long.”

Belew, who remained good friends with Zappa, went on to play on Bowie’s 1979 Eno-produced “Lodger” album. By then, Bowie was known for his shape-shifting music, moving from pop-rock early in his career to the glam sounds of “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust” and “Aladdin Sane” albums, into the soul-inflected “Young Americans” before incorporating ambient styles and Krautrock into his music on “Low,” “Heroes,” and, to a lesser extent, “Lodger.”

Having completed his time with Bowie, Belew soon started working with the Talking Heads, adding guitar to the groundbreaking African-influenced 1980 album “Remain In Light” and playing on the late-1980 and 1981 Talking Heads tours.

Belew’s next adventure was joining forces with Robert Fripp in what became a new edition of King Crimson. Belew was lead singer, guitarist and a main songwriting contributor in the various incarnations of that band from 1981 to 2009.

In between Crimson projects, Belew started what has become a prolific solo career that, with the release of his latest studio effort, “Elevator,” now numbers 25 albums. He also played in the excellent pop band the Bears and did numerous recording sessions (including on Paul Simon’s “Graceland,” Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors” and a pair of Laurie Anderson albums).

Then, of course, came a second stint with Bowie, this time for the epic “Sound + Vision” tour. It was a whole different experience for Belew than on the “Isolar II” tour.

“In the ‘78 and ‘79 band, David, I think, was going through a troubled part of his life. I wouldn’t know too much about it, but there was a pretty good buffer around him. So it wasn’t easy to cuddle up and be friends,” Belew said. “On the 1990 tour, it was totally the opposite for me. I was the music director, so he had a lot of time spent with me to get the arrangements and get the music he wanted done. And then the tour went for so long, 27 countries, we had Lee Iacocca’s jet, and there were so many other things going on, that I had a very close time with David. That was a big reward of that tour for me was the fact that we had days to spend going to museums and doing things together, eating at restaurants. Getting to know each other as people was so wonderful. He was such an amazing person.”


Celebrating David Bowie with Adrian Belew, Todd Rundgren and more

8 p.m. Nov. 3. $40-$99.50. The Eastern at The Dairies Complex, 777 Memorial Drive SE, Atlanta. easternatl.com.

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