Tony Visconti on David Bowie: 'We are fortunate to have lived in the same time as him'

The musician and producer recalls ‘worst next day’ when he learned of David Bowie’s death – while on tour with his tribute band – and his pride in their work together

Music producer Tony Visconti has paid tribute to David Bowie on the first anniversary of the death of the “master of rock and roll reinvention”.

In a personal post entitled The Worst Next Day, Bowie’s longtime collaborator described his grief, and recounted the moment at which he found out about the rock star’s death on 10 January 2016. “Looking back a year I realise I was so fortunate I was with my band when the news broke,” Visconti said. “If I was on my own I would have been totally devastated, totally.”

Visconti had known of Bowie’s illness for a year but had signed an NDA vowing that he would not reveal details about the recording of Blackstar.

“I was sound asleep in a hotel room in Toronto when my phone lit up around 2am with texts every second,” he said. “The messages were more or less the same thing – ‘David Bowie has died’, something I had been dreading for a year. Strangely, I said to myself, ‘Oh God’ and fell back to sleep (Holy Holy [Visconti’s Bowie tribute supergroup] had played an exhausting show the night before). My roommate, saxophonist Terry Edwards, woke me up gently around 7 am whispering, “Tony, something terrible has happened.” A few minutes later Woody Woodmansey came into the room and tried to console me. My band, Holy Holy, hadn’t any idea David was terminally ill.”

Tony Visconti on stage in Toronto with his Bowie tribute group, Holy Holy.
Tony Visconti on stage in Toronto with his Bowie tribute group, Holy Holy. Photograph: Nathan Denette/AP

He said that he had “been through every stage of grief in the past 365 days, including anger” and added that he talks to Bowie “in my head all the time”. Describing the process of making Blackstar, Bowie’s final album which describes visions of the afterlife and morality, saying that it “wasn’t a haphazard affair, we knew every minute we were making something akin to constructing a Gothic cathedral.”

Visconti concluded: “We are fortunate to have lived in the same time as him. We’ve seen him, we’ve heard him sing and speak, we’ve hugged him, we’ve worshipped him and we are constantly reminded of him daily. He was a legend in his lifetime and he will be a legend until the end of time. But he was my friend too. I miss him dearly.”


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