David Bowie tribute from St Leonards guitarist

David Bowie performing in 1972
David Bowie performing in 1972

A St Leonards guitarist has shared his memories of working with ‘phenomenon’ David Bowie.

Kevin Armstrong first met Bowie in early 1985 at Abbey Road studios.

“I was told by a guy at EMI to take my guitar for a session with a mysterious ‘Mr X’,” he said.

“Until he walked in, the assembled band had no idea who we were there to play for.

“I had grown up listening avidly to everything he had ever made and, as a teenager in the 1970s, was keenly aware of his talent and powerful charisma.

“He was already a superstar and a legend.

“We were all stunned to be confronted with him in the flesh. As a session musician, my job was to keep calm and play the guitar.

“His charm and friendly good humour made it easy.

“The session was to demo a song for the soundtrack of the Absolute Beginners movie.

“It was very productive and I helped David finish a half-formed song that became the title track.

“I think this endeared me to him enough to lead on to our subsequent on-off association for the next ten years.”

Later that year, Bowie asked Kevin to form a band for the Live Aid concert.

“I went on to record with him and Iggy Pop in 1986 and be Iggy’s guitarist and bandleader – I still am today,” he said.

“In a way I owe my career to that day with David Bowie in Abbey Road.

“Because of him, I now count incredible people like Iggy Pop and Brian Eno as colleagues and friends.

“I don’t think there’s a musician who ever played with him who didn’t get more out than they put in.

“My working life with him was always full of laughter and crackling energy.

“He was a generous and relaxed person. A deep thinker but above all a doer.

“I have been extremely lucky to have worked in the orbit of such genius for a short while.

“He was quite simply unique as an artist and a one-man cultural phenomenon.

“His creativity and vision touched so many people and probably helped to define the attitudes of a generation.

“From gender issues, to the Berlin wall to, perhaps, our view of what it is to live a good life and die a good death, his work continues to affect us all.

“He was a true artist to his very soul quite apart from being a fantastic, groundbreaking songwriter.

“The modern world was to some extent shaped by the artistry of David and we can only hope the example of his life and death can inspire us to challenge the creatively impoverished, commercialised, more brutal environment we find ourselves in today.”

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