Mike Garson

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Mike Garson
Mikeparis.jpg
Mike Garson, picture by Alex Boyd
Background information
Birth name Michael David Garson
Born (1945-07-29) July 29, 1945 (age 68)
Origin New York, United States
Genres Rock, industrial, techno, jazz, funk, experimental, folk, instrumental, ambient
Instruments Piano, keyboards, synthesizers, drums, percussion, organ, vibraphone, stylophone
Years active 1964—present
Website www.mikegarson.com

Mike Garson is an American pianist, most notable for his work with David Bowie, Nine Inch Nails, Billy Corgan, Free Flight, and The Smashing Pumpkins.

Early career[edit]

After graduating from Brooklyn College with a music major in 1970, Garson was a member of rock/country/jazz band Brethren with Rick Marotta, Tom Cosgrove and Stu Woods. They recorded two hard-to-find albums on the Tiffany label, which featured guest piano and liner notes by Dr. John (and album photography by Murray Head, who scored a hit with "Say it Ain't So Joe" and later with the single "One Night In Bangkok").

Garson also earned notice when he played on the I'm the One album by early 1970s experimental artist Annette Peacock. Bowie asked Peacock to join him on a tour; she declined, but Garson began an enduring relationship with Bowie.

Work with David Bowie[edit]

Garson gave the piano and keyboard backing on the later Ziggy Stardust tour and his unique contribution to Aladdin Sane (1913-1938-197?) gave the song an avant-garde jazz feel with lengthy and sometimes atonal piano solos.

I had told Bowie about the avant-garde thing. When I was recording the "Aladdin Sane" track for Bowie, it was just two chords, an A and a G chord, and the band was playing very simple English rock and roll. And Bowie said: 'play a solo on this.' I had just met him, so I played a blues solo, but then he said: 'No, that’s not what I want.' And then I played a latin solo. Again, Bowie said: 'No no, that’s not what I want.' He then continued: 'You told me you play that avant-garde music. Play that stuff!' And I said: 'Are you sure? ‘Cause you might not be working anymore!'. So I did the solo that everybody knows today, in one take. And to this day, I still receive emails about it. Every day. I always tell people that Bowie is the best producer I ever met, because he lets me do my thing.[1]

Garson played also for Bowie's bandmate Mick Ronson on his first and last solo tour, and his first album (Slaughter on Tenth Avenue). Garson came to replace Ronson as Bowie's musical lieutenant on several occasions. Notably on "We Are the Dead" from the Diamond Dogs album, where Garson's metronome like keyboard provides a dramatic setting for Bowie's vocals and on the title track to Young Americans where his jaunty piano leads the band. Garson played with Bowie on and off over the years, resurfacing on The Buddha of Suburbia album and the ambitious Outside album.

Solo career[edit]

Parallel to this work with Bowie, Garson engaged in his own solo career as a jazz pianist, pushing the bounds of his art. He is regarded in the industry as one of the very few 'rock' pianists capable of performing extended piano solos. He remains one of the most highly sought-after session musicians with a unique sound of his own.

In 1993, Garson began a short-lived series of Screen Themes albums, jazz renditions of major themes and suites from film scores of 1993, and the following year, 1994. The latter album featured the recording debut of Jessica L. Tivens, at age 13, who had previously appeared on Star Search. Both albums were released by Discovery Records.

Other collaborations[edit]

Garson worked with the reformed Spiders From Mars in 1975, alongside Mick Woodmansey, Trevor Bolder, Dave Black (guitar) and Pete McDonald (vocals). They recorded one eponymous album in 1976 before going their separate ways.

He joined the Smashing Pumpkins for their Adore tour, playing piano, keyboards and synthesizer. His piano playing was an integral part of the Pumpkins' performance. After the tour, he joined Corgan on his solo effort—the soundtrack for the movie Stigmata. Garson did not perform the song "Le Deux Machina" on the Pumpkins' Machina II album, but did play on the corresponding piano section of "Glass and the Ghost Children" off of Machina/The Machines of God, which was actually excerpts of the version from The Friends and Enemies of Modern Music tape. Garson also played on Nine Inch Nails albums The Fragile and With Teeth, as well as with No Doubt and many other acts.

Current work[edit]

Recently Mike Garson appeared on Myspace with his own music site, and to date has released some 50 free tracks. He is currently working on three new albums, as well as collaborating with several bands as touring player/session musician. His latest collaboration shows up on the last "met-on-Myspace" French artist Kuta's album A Home. Garson also contributed to and received co writing credit on the track "Something Unseen" by Athens, GA power pop band Chris McKay & the Critical Darlings. He has also been collaborating with the Norwegian band Sleepyard. In addition to this, he worked on the writing and recording of two songs on mathcore band The Dillinger Escape Plan's latest release, Option Paralysis. He has also worked on several projects with the photographer Alex Boyd, including scoring the soundtrack to the short film Die Hasenjagd.

In November 2010 he recorded an album of Bowie covers called The Bowie Variations, which was released in July 2011 as a HDCD. He has also collaborated with James Iha, appearing on his second solo album Look to the Sky (2012).

Discography[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]