and Mike Garson discuss "Celebrating David Bowie"
By Naughty Mickie
Los Angeles guitarist and producer Scrote was playing with
bassist Tim Lefebvre and drummer Mark Guiliana in a local jazz club
when the trio received word that David Bowie had died. Lefebvre and
Guiliana had both played on Bowie’s final album, “Blackstar,” but it
was Scrote’s phone that began ringing, as he was known for music
directing special events with high-end players.
“Right away people started contacting me to do some kind of event
just as group therapy, pro players,” Scrote said.
Scrote held off at first, but then relented and, as he began
making calls, he quickly discovered that many in the music industry
wanted to do something. In three weeks he put together a show at The
Roxy in Hollywood with more than 70 musicians, including Gary
Oldman, Seal, actor Ewan McGregor and Angelo Moore (Fishbone). It
was such a success that it evolved into the global tour,
“Celebrating David Bowie,” which included a recent stop at The
Wiltern in Los Angeles.
Scrote has always been a fan of Bowie, appreciating his music for
its style and harmonic richness and admiring the talent of his band.
“Bowie is such a part of everyone’s life beyond music because he
reaches people through style, fashion, films, the Internet. He was a
leading innovator on the web. He was a leading innovator in music
finance. He was so many different directions at the highest levels
and so he was a part of everyone’s life. Not only that, he never did
anything for money, he did it for interest, his interests were
there. He was a Leonardo da Vinci of our times really,” Scrote said.
The “Celebrating David Bowie” featured a core lineup of 30 Bowie
musicians, including Mike Garson, Earl Slick, Adrian Belew, Gail Ann
Dorsey, Sterling Campbell, Zachary Alford, Holly Palmer and
Catherine Russell, joined by more than 40 other artists.
“This is a very extraordinary show for a very extraordinary
artist and extraordinary circumstances. It is a rotating ensemble.
It’s like an amoeba, it never stops. Three hours straight, no
talking. There’s less than a minute between songs. It just goes and
goes and there’s singers and players shifting on every song, no song
has the same personnel. It’s very complex and designed so it goes
smoothly and the feeling of it is celebratory,” Scrote said.
served as the music director and played guitar throughout the night.
Also on stage for the entire concert was Bowie’s pianist Mike
“I was actually the longest standing musician with him,” Garson
said. “I was hired in 1972 to do eight weeks and I ended up doing
his first American tour in 1972 and his last concert in the States
with Alicia Keys in 2006. I had a long relationship with him.
“I did 1,000 concerts with him and none of them ever
disappointed. There was something magical about his ability to go on
stage and just always deliver an amazing show.” Garson said. “He was
very, very warm, very funny, he had a great sense of humor, and also
very smart, he was like a warehouse of information. He was
self-educated and very well-read. He knew about art, philosophy and
current events, just a frightenly great mind.”
Garson is a true working musician, playing lots of concerts and
spending many hours in the studio, but he also wants to help others
and is involved in The Music-Heals Project, an organization that
promotes the research and creation of music to help people with
brain-related disorders, such as autism and Alzheimer’s and
In 2014 Garson wrote and performed the “Symphonic Healing Suite,”
which has since been released on CD and DVD. He is currently
involved in a research program with children, who are monitored to
see how different melodies affect their brainwaves.
“(The doctors) are trying to figure out what musicians know
intuitively,” Garson said. “Over the next 20 years we’re going to
see a lot in that area. I’ve worked with several neurologists and
surgeons and it’s a fascinating area. I don’t get too involved in
the science side because I understand that the music does magic
spiritually, emotionally and physically.”
Garson is also planning to release five albums of Bowie music
over the next five years. They will consist of him on piano with
various vocalists offering their own interpretations of the
will be something a little different. I’ve played all those songs
with him and I’m looking for different singers who will make the
songs their own, not copy him. I did one thing at a benefit a few
months ago with Seal and he sang one of David’s songs and it was
gorgeous,” Garson said.
Scrote has his own projects as well, including the bands, The
Euphoriares, with Sting’s son, singer/songwriter and bassist Joe
Sumner, and Quadruple Bari Sax Attack!, both of which will be
releasing albums this year. He will also release the solo effort,
“Afro Angular Suite.”
Scrote has not yet made plans to continue the “Celebrating David
Bowie” tour this year.
Find out where to see Scrote at
Keep up with Mike Garson at
Learn more about the Music-Heals Project at www.music-heals.com