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Bowie’s Piano Man: The Life of Mike Garson (Backbeat Books)

3 July 2018

Clifford Slapper

The story of how a $5 a night piano player in New York went on to become David Bowie’s most frequently used musician is a fascinating tale that spans over 30 years, endless tours and over 20 albums. Mike Garson was trying to support his family doing small gigs in New York when he got a call from Tony Defries, Bowie’s manager, asking him to meet up at a New York studio in 20 minutes. It was there he met Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust band, including Trevor Bolder, Woody Woodmansey, guitarist Mick Ronson and Bowie himself, although Garson had no inkling of who the musicians were. Ronson and Garson sat down at a piano to run thru “Changes” and the rest, as they say, is history.

Garson went onto tour and record with Bowie for 30 years, as well as performing with Nine Inch Nails and Smashing Pumpkins, among others. Garson is a classically training pianist, and this background seemingly appealed to Bowie, who drew on all genres and styles in his work. This book, originally out in 2014, has been updated with new material and interviews, and a new chapter on Bowie’s untimely death in 2016. Garson wasn’t your standard backing musician, and this book gives an insight into Bowie’s way of making music that will be invaluable for fans and fellow musicians alike.