Tony Kaye, who toured with David Bowie during his Station to Station era, said he’s discovered two live recordings that are “so much better” than the official live release from March 1976.
He described the board mixes as “fantastic performances” and explained that he tried to open discussions about releasing them, but he wasn’t able to establish a conversation before Bowie’s death in 2016.
In a new interview with Rolling Stone, Kaye recalled how he’d recently quit Yes and moved to Los Angeles before being signed up for what became known as Bowie’s Thin White Duke tour. He had settled in the notorious Hyatt House hotel because it was the only place he knew in the city and wound up developing a friendship with Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham.
“Nothing could be crazier than John Bonham driving his weird car … whatever it was called with the open top,” Kaye said. “It looked like Mad Max. We lived next door to each other. … Every night, we’d hit the bar at the Riot House and then go to the Rainbow. That was a nightly thing until I got serious.”
After three months, Kaye realized he went into “a sort of rehab seclusion” and met Bowie’s tour manager on his first night out afterward. “He said, ‘Can you be on a plane tomorrow?’ That was it,” he recalled. “I said, ‘Sure.’ … I didn’t even know where I was going. The limousine picked me up, and before you knew it, I was in Jamaica at Keith Richards’ house with David and the band rehearsing.”
Kaye said guitarist Carlos Alomar, bassist George Murray and drummer Dennis Davis were a “killer band” and “great guys, too.” “Carlos was the guy,” he noted. “He was kind of my mentor, really. I learned everything about David’s music from him.” He added that he didn’t see any evidence of the cocaine problems Bowie was going through at the time. “He looked great. He was the persona of the person on that stage. He didn’t look raggedy at all. … He was the Thin White Duke, and it was a great show. I loved that tour.”
The keyboardist said it was “a shame that not a lot of it was recorded or filmed.” “I do have tapes that I tried to get to David just before he died,” he explained. “I found in a box a board mix of two shows. One at Madison Square Garden and one in Paris that are just fantastic performances. … I tried to get a message to David that I had them right before he died … they just sound so great. For board mixes, they are unbelievable.”
Kaye said he’s heard the official release from that tour, a live album included on the 2016 box set Who Can I Be Now? (1974–1976), but “the shows I have are really so much better. Maybe someone will want to release it just as a one-off thing. I should probably give Carlos a ring and see what he thinks. He’s the master Bowie dude. Anyway, the Madison Square Garden shows were so great. Everyone was there, like [John] Lennon, Liza Minelli. … I don’t think there’s anyone since that has been as cool as Bowie was at that moment.
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