BOWIE’S PIANO MAN: The Life of Mike Garson

Pianist Mike Garson was David Bowie’s most frequent musician, on record and onstage, throughout Bowie’s life. They played over a thousand shows together between 1972 and 2004, and Garson is featured on over 20 of Bowie’s albums. Backbeat Books is thrilled to publish a revised and updated edition – the first in paperback – of the only biography of Garson, BOWIE’S PIANO MAN: The Life of Mike Garson. Written by Clifford Slapper, a fellow pianist who also played for Bowie, working closely with him on his last-ever television appearance, BOWIE’S PIANO MAN explores the special relationship between Garson and Bowie, beginning with the extraordinary story of how a young New York jazz pianist had his life transformed overnight after one short phone call in 1972 from Bowie’s manager. Special to this new edition is a foreword written by Garson himself and in-depth conversations with Garson, focusing on the effect Bowie’s death has had on his friend and colleague of 45 years.

A noted master of jazz, classical, fusion, and experimental genres, Garson has composed thousands of original works and has taught countless students, acting as mentor to many. BOWIE’S PIANO MAN shares the story of his childhood in Brooklyn, his ongoing strong presence in the jazz world; his collaborations with a huge range of other artists in addition to Bowie, including the Smashing Pumpkins and Nine Inch Nails; and his unique ability to live the life of a rock and roll star while abstaining from drugs and alcohol and keeping his family life intact. This searching biography is also a chronicle of how musical boundaries are broken down and how new genres are created. Explored in detail in particular is Garson’s commitment to improvisation as a form of composition, a manifestation of his more general dedication to living in the moment and always moving forward–a trait he shared with Bowie.

In this revised and updated edition, there are new photographs as well as six new chapters, including Garson’s personal recollections of “life on the road with David Bowie” over the course of the nine world tours in which they played together. These new chapters also contain several more interviews with friends and collaborators such as Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins, producer Ken Scott, who worked on six Bowie albums, and saxophonist Donny McCaslin, who led the Blackstar band.

BOWIE’S PIANO MAN is a fascinating exploration of how music is created and what it can do. Garson’s incredible career–to date already spanning six decades–is an invaluable piece of modern music history and an inspiration to music fans everywhere.

Clifford Slapper (London, England) grew up against the background of the glam-rock scene. He became a pianist, having been inspired, at age 11, by Mike Garson’s piano on Bowie’s 1973 album Aladdin Sane. Going on to be one of the UK’s top pianists, playing with many great artists such as Boy George, Marc Almond, and Lisa Stansfield, he finally worked closely with David Bowie himself, playing for him on his last-ever television appearance. He also works as a producer, arranger, and composer and has recently produced the album Bowie Songs One, which reinterprets Bowie’s songs acoustically for piano and voice.

Bowie’s Piano Man
The Life of Mike Garson Updated and Revised
Clifford Slapper
9781617136931 | 161713693X
Backbeat Books (Hal Leonard)
Biography & Autobiography / Composers & Musicians
$24.99 USD, £18.00 GBP, €26.00 EUR
304 pages

Leave a Reply