With the usual hype beginning to emerge people seem to forget that Bowie had such a deep sense of musical discrimination, allowing his musicians to get on with it, one of the most notable cases being that of jazz musician Mike Garson (Bowie’s Piano Man) who brilliantly lifted what was, by Bowie’s standards, a rather middling effort (and not just with hindsight). Here’s Mike:
I had told Bowie about the avant-garde thing. When I was recording the “Aladdin Sane” track for Bowie, it was just two chords, an A and a G chord, and the band was playing very simple English rock and roll. And Bowie said: ‘play a solo on this.’ I had just met him, so I played a blues solo, but then he said: ‘No, that’s not what I want.’ And then I played a latin solo. Again, Bowie said: ‘No no, that’s not what I want.’ He then continued: ‘You told me you play that avant-garde music. Play that stuff!’ And I said: ‘Are you sure? ‘Cause you might not be working anymore!’. So I did the solo that everybody knows today, in one take. And to this day, I still receive emails about it. Every day. I always tell people that Bowie is the best producer I ever met, because he lets me do my thing.
As Mike rightly says Mick Ronson is another musician who added so much to Bowie’s music — someone I’ve been meaning to write about for some time. I didn’t know that it was Ronson who auditioned Garson — good to know that given the high esteem I have for Ronson — and really good advice from Mick to Mike:
Here is the famous Aladdin Sane piece: