I was recently contacted by Masslive.com’s Shaina Mishkin regarding the recent passing of music legend, David Bowie. Shaina had seen Colorway’s version of Bowie’s “Diamond Dogs” from a concert we were part of in 2015 celebrating his 68th birthday. She asked me a little bit about why we picked the song and how his music had influenced me.
Here’s how it went:
When Florence band Colorway was asked to perform at a David Bowie birthday tribute at Iron Horse Music Hall last year, lead guitarist and vocalist F. Alex Johnson flashed back to his first substantial introduction to Bowie.
“My big awaking was in the ’80’s with the big hits,” Johnson said. “When ‘Let’s Dance’ came out, I was 14 and in a cover band. We did ‘Modern Love’ and ‘Let’s Dance’ and a couple other songs.”
The group decided to perform 1983’s “Let’s Dance” and 1974’s “Diamond Dogs” in an Iron Horse Music Hall tribute to Bowie’s birthday.
“When you get asked to do one of those things, you know the good tunes are going to go early,” Johnson said. “I wanted to do ‘Let’s Dance’ because that was my era. ‘Diamond Dogs’ was a strange pick, but I thought the swagger of that song in particular was just undeniable. It was fun to play, it’s a ‘Stones-y’ sort of groove and I knew no one else was gonna pick it.”
Johnson said he and his friends got into Bowie’s ’70’s-era music in his late teens. Among a 1980’s musical landscape of bands like U2 and R.E.M., Johnson said, Mick Ronson’s guitar and Bowie’s songwriting resonated the most.
“His style is so wide, such a wide color palette,” Johnson said, on Bowie’s catalogue of songs. “It’s almost as if instead of being a songwriter he was a movie director, and each record was a movie. Every movie is different content, but you can tell it’s the same person behind it.
“One of the things his death has brought about in me is to try to make the best art I can and to try to make music as true to me as possible.”
Johnson said he first heard the news of Bowie’s death right after waking up on Jan. 11, when his girlfriend checked her phone.
“I could tell just by the look on her face something horrible had happened,” Johnson said. “It was such a shock to so many people, he didn’t tell anybody. The music world didn’t get a chance to say ‘I love you and we are so, so sad you’re sick.'”
Johnson, who will play a solo show at Bread Euphoria this Saturday, Jan. 16, said he plans on incorporating Bowie songs into the performance.
“I’m going to do at least one, maybe two Bowie songs in his honor,” Johnson said.
Article originally published on Masslive.com 1/12/16.