Bowie and me
A longtime Bowie collaborator, Tony Visconti is revisiting the star’s early work with Holy Holy. Duncan Seaman reports.
Over the course of the last 50 years Tony Visconti has played an integral role in several of the most important records in the history of British rock and pop.
But even for the 72-year-old
New Yorker, the two awards he recently received from the Music Producers Guild – for Outstanding Contribution to UK Music and for his work on David Bowie’s final album Blackstar – marked something special.
“The Blackstar award was of course a crowning glory because it’s the last thing I did with David Bowie over a period of 47 years and it happens to be, in my opinion, just about the best album we’ve done together,” he says. “That and Scary Monsters and maybe ‘Heroes’, so it’s right up there.
“To be celebrated by my British peers that’s a great honour because this is the country where I learned how to do everything.”
A year on from Bowie’s death, listening to Blackstar is for many an emotional experience. None more so, it seems, than for the man who was at his side for more than four decades. Visconti explains: “I listen to it all the time – and I listen to other records because I’m involved in re-releasing the catalogue, not all of it but some of the bits I worked on – and it always chokes me up and it’s something I just have to work through. I can’t disembody his voice from the person I knew and loved, so yes, I’m still at quite an emotional stage.”
When Bowie’s death from liver cancer was announced to a shocked world, on January 10, 2016, Visconti was touring as bass player with Holy Holy, the band he founded with former Spider From Mars ‘Woody’ Woodmansey to perform songs from the early part of Bowie’s canon. He readily admits that being around “ten great friends” helped him to cope with the tragic news.
“They were all stunned and shocked, especially Woody who was a friend of David’s, but it did help. By the time the tour was over I didn’t realise how much of a protection they were for me
We were facing an audience and some of them were crying during