A Bowie Celebration Keeps The Artist and His Remarkable Commerce Alive

The sense is true that there will never again be anyone who affected such diverse industries as music, Broadway, Wall Street, Silicon Valley or Hollywood. Among David Bowie’s countless interviews that have bubbled back to the surface after his death four years ago, his comment that as a kid his goal in music was to be a sax player in Little Richard’s band resonates on various levels. For me, it explained in some mysterious way why Little Richard was sitting near me at one of Bowie’s shows several decades ago.

But Bowie, ever the shape-shifting outsider who sometimes looked like he indeed fell to earth fully formed and ahead of his time, was to play far more than a sideman.

“Music itself is going to become like running water or electricity,” Bowie said in 2002, sensing the direction of the music industry long before others could see it. “You’d better be prepared for doing a lot of touring because that’s really the only unique situation that’s going to be left. It’s terribly exciting. But on the other hand, it doesn’t matter if you think it’s exciting or not; it’s what’s going to happen.”

Indeed, several of his touring compadres have picked up the mantle and have been touring as A Bowie Celebration. The ensemble is led by keyboardist Mike Garson, who has played more onstage with Bowie than anyone. Other alumni fill out the other positions onstage, with an evolving cast of lead singers. The current tour features complete renditions of the pivotal albums “Ziggy Stardust” and “Diamond Dogs,” Bowie’s most flamboyant releases.

At the Belly Up, lead singer Corey (Living Colour) Glover was the least evocative of Bowie’s vocals, but he was still effective. The two female singers were stunning, one having worked with both Jacko and Prince. Garson was less voluble than last the ensemble’s prior San Diego gig.

After the two albums were assayed in full, there was still plenty of time in the 2.5 hour show to fill the set list with other gems from Bowie’s deep catalog. The band was incredibly tight, especially for a tour opening gig, which is testament to the band’s chops.

Brian Duffy shot the classic Alladin Sane album cover for David Bowie.

With an estimated net worth of £135 million at his death, Bowie apparently flirted with bankruptcy around the “Ziggy Stardust” era. It is not unusual that a recently deceased musician has a bump in music sales. What was quite unique was the notable spike in sales of Bowie rock photography. From London to Hollywood, rock photography galleries told me that the week Bowie died was unlike any other – sales of fine art prints of David Bowie were through the roof.

Whereas other artists’ music will continue to be deeply cherished, Bowie will also have a legacy that transcends most dimensions in which he operated.

Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.