By the Way

By the way, Lou Reed introduced me to David Bowie

David Bowie died on Jan. 10, 2016.
David Bowie died on Jan. 10, 2016. AP File

It’s been a year since we heard the news that David Bowie had died. Yes, Bowie died on Jan. 10, 2016, just a mere two days after his 69th birthday.

Bowie’s death set off a chain of events that included the deaths of Prince and Merle Haggard and R2D2 and Carrie Fisher and on and on. I also just suffered my first major loss of 2017 when my beloved Crimson Tide lost to the orange team in the last seconds of Monday’s game. But let’s get back to 2106 and Bowie.

I suppose I’m still feeling the sting of Bowie’s death some 365 days later. I’m such a big fan of his work and his persona that I wasn’t able to compartmentalize it and just move on as if I wasn’t affected by his departure. It’s no secret that I still miss him.

I had the pleasure of meeting David Bowie about 20 years ago. My first Sun Herald blog post, which ran on Jan. 10, 2016, is a reflection of that encounter.

That time Lou Reed introduced me to David Bowie

In the summer of 1996, Lou Reed introduced me to David Bowie in Athens, Greece.

I spent most of 1996 working for Lou on the “Set the Twilight Reeling” tour. You don’t have to believe this because it happened; it’s truth. Not believing something doesn’t make it fiction.

This European leg of the tour, the second time we went to Europe that year, found Lou playing festivals with everyone from Blur to a Bruce Dickinson-less Iron Maiden. One day, I’ll tell you about a festival in Sweden that Lou headlined that featured Iggy Pop and my good friends and New Orleans ambassadors Dash Rip Rock.

The Athens festival featured Elvis Costello and The Attractions, Lou and David Bowie. It was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen.

I had met Elvis Costello, my favorite singer, on the tour as he had already played some shows with Lou.

We got to the stadium early that day because Elvis went on at 5 and Lou went on at 7. Bowie closed the show.

I went by Lou’s dressing room around mid-afternoon to check on things. I was his personal chef, dressing room coordinator, and I ran his TelePrompTer during the shows. We had a great deal of interaction on any given day.

I saw Bowie sitting in a chair talking with Lou as I entered the dressing area. I started to walk out but then I heard that crackly, New York voice say, “Chef Jeff. This is David Bowie.”

Then, Bowie stood up, shook my hand, and we chatted for a few minutes. Well, mostly he just politely listened and smiled as I went on and on about how much I loved his music.

Later that day, I watched Elvis from the side of the stage at the monitor board. This is the place where I would later watch Bowie after Lou’s show.

I stood right beside Lou while Bowie performed, which was amazing because Bowie opened up with “White Light White Heat,” which Lou wrote and performed with the Velvet Underground.

I also fondly remember him playing “The Man Who Sold the World” and closing the show with “All The Young Dudes.”

I’ll never forget seeing Bowie perform live.

And now he’s gone.

If I had known David Bowie was going to be dead before I got out of bed this morning, I would have slept a bit longer.