Adrian Belew – Bowie Poached Me From Zappa
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Belew played in Frank Zappa’s band between 1977 and ’78. Towards the end of his stint in Zappa’s band, David Bowie approached him about working together at a Zappa show. “There was a portion of the show for about 10 minutes where I left the stage while Frank took a guitar solo with just the bass player and drummer,” remembers Belew.
“As I left the stage, I saw David standing there by the mixing board. I thought, I’ve gotta say something! So I shook his hand and said, ‘I just want to say thank you for all the fabulous music you’ve made.’ And he said, ‘Great! How would you like to be in my band?’ I turned around and said, ‘Well, I’m kinda playing with that guy out there on the stage!’ He laughed and said, ‘Yes, I know, but when your tour ends, mine starts two weeks later. Maybe we should talk about this? I’ll come to your hotel and we’ll go out to dinner after the show.’ I could not believe that!
“David was a personal hero because I always thought that David did something I wanted to do in music, which is combine the avant-garde art side of music with the pop side. I’ve been trying to do that ever since.”
Belew went on to talk about the experience of playing on Bowie’s 1979 album Lodger, “They wouldn’t even tell me the key of the song. The studio was above the control room. I couldn’t see them but they had a one-way television camera that could see me, so they said, ‘Put your headphones on, you’ll hear a click and start playing.’ I was like, ‘Play what?’ ‘Whatever you think of.’
“It was a method that they came up for getting your accidental responses. At one point Lodger was supposed to be called Planned Accidents, so I was the accident! Then they would make a composite of their favourite things into one guitar track.”