Adrian Belew |  “Everything about David Bowie was special”

Adrian Belew | “Everything about David Bowie was special”

“I admired and loved the superstar, but I loved the person David was even more,” said former Bowie collaborator Adrian Belew, one of the most inventive guitarists of the last five decades who, Tuesday night in Montreal, will celebrate the invaluable work. of his late friend.

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Opening night at the Colisée de Québec, March 4, 1990. After a few weeks of rehearsals, David Bowie begins his Sound+Vision Tour, a seven-month global journey that will take you to 27 countries. On a stage formed by a huge metal grid, guitarist Adrian Belew runs from one end to the other, while he performs one of his heroic solos.

“I was doing my rock star and all the time, David was standing in the middle, motionless, watching me go,” he recalls about the opening date of this tour, which also included Louise Lecavalier and La La La. Human footsteps – “David loved Luisa. »

“But when I finished my solo, Adrian Belew continues, I realized that my 60-foot cable had wrapped around his leg and he was trapped. That’s when he introduced me as the Fred Astaire of electric guitar! »

David made fun of himself a lot. He took his programs seriously, but he didn’t take himself seriously.

Adrian Belew


David Bowie on stage during theIsolar Tower IIwhich featured guitarist Adrian Belew

Beyond this talent for clowning, Adrian Belew, 72, is above all one of the most innovative guitarists in rock history, as the main architect of the second life of King Crimson or as a sound landscaper on several legendary albums, among them Stay in the Light of Talking Heads or Tea downward spiral of Nine inch nails. This fall is one of the headliners of Celebrating David Bowiea tribute show featuring former collaborators and admirers of the Thin White Duke, including legendary singer Todd Rundgren.

In 1978, Belew had just wrapped up a tour with Frank Zappa when The Man Who Fell From Heaven recruited him for his Isolar Tower II (immortalized on the album Practices), then for the recording, in Montreux in Switzerland, of the album tenant.

In titles that, however, are quite pop like DJ Y The boys keep swinging, the American guitarist displays a breathless, bizarre, warped playing, both perfectly mastered and totally disheveled, that has more to do with Jackson Pollock’s squirt than any other musician. Like an insurrection of dissonances that would sprinkle otherwise immaculate songs.


Adrian Belew, during a show with David Bowie in Tokyo in 1990, as part of the “Sound+Vision Tour”

A result that is easily explained by the conditions in which he was forced to work: “David, Brian Eno [collaborateur] and Tony Visconti [réalisateur] they were in the control room and I was in a studio upstairs with a one-way camera that allowed them to see me. They told me: ‟Go upstairs, put on your headphones, you are going to hear the drummer counting down and we want you to start playing”. »

Can I listen to the songs before? to answer Belew. No. Could someone at least tell me what range I should run at? Either. “They really wanted to capture the accidental responses that the music would elicit in me. »

Bowie and his team will then assemble a single track from the various takes recorded by his guinea pig. “Even though I didn’t record them linearly, then I had to learn to play the songs as if they were on the record,” he recalls. Hard ? “I wouldn’t want to be someone else who has to try to be me. »

constantly educate yourself

“I remember visiting the Prado Museum with David,” says Adrián Belew, evoking his friend’s boundless curiosity, unable not to immerse himself with fervor in a subject that he was passionate about. “It was as if I was with a royal guide: he was even able to talk to me about the impact of certain papal decrees on the history of art. »

It is often said that he knew how to reinvent himself, and it is precisely because he was interested in many things. He was constantly educating himself. And so he managed to protect the creative side of him, despite his massive success.

Adrian Belew

Adrian Belew and David Bowie each split in September 1990, but kept in touch, exchanging regular emails (“David was very surprised to find out he was gardening”) in which the singer asked about his ex’s plans. colleague, who launched last June lifta 25me solo album recorded completely independently from his residence in Nashville.

What was so special about David Bowie? “Everything about him was special. He is the most unique person I have ever met. It is thanks to him that I continue to create without commitment and without thinking about success, because the important thing is to be creative. He was one of those who always had to invent. »

Celebrating David BowieOctober 18 at the Olympia

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