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Photo by Mark Adams

Photo by Mark Adams. Header photo by Toby Melville.

I was backstage with David and the band, ready to perform at Glastonbury 24 years ago to this day. David looked out at the quarter of a million fans. Something about that day made me feel like it’d be the most powerful concert ever in Glastonbury’s history

I felt David’s apprehension. He seemed just a little nervous. He took a breath, looked me straight in the eye, and asked me to warm up the audience on my own like 27 years earlier at the Hammersmith Odeon in London on the night he knew he’d retire Ziggy Stardust forever…

Like the first time in 1973, I almost had a heart attack. I walked out onto the stage alone with nothing but that monstrous sea of amazing fans. I was ready to play some jazz. There was just one problem: from the first note, no sound came out of my keyboard!

Within a second, at least 50 crew flooded on and off stage, scrambling to figure out the problem. The crowd was getting anxious. I was nervous and turning red but so happy that David wasn’t on stage because we would have been in big trouble if he had started without the piano.

The three minutes I was onstage without any sound felt like three years! It finally dawned on me that the volume on my keyboard was turned off. It wouldn’t surprise me if I were the one who turned it all the way down after our sound check. Oh boy!

I began playing Greensleeves, but I have no idea why. I played at a brisk tempo, knowing the audience was waiting for their real hero to take the stage. The band walked on stage while I finished my improv. Then David walked out, and the crowd went crazy. 

We played for two hours. After playing with David more than 1,000 times, my favorite was our night in Glastonbury. I remember the thrill of playing Life on Mars with the audience, knowing every word to that, not to mention every other song we played.


  • Kevin Fraser says:

    Ha. What a lovely – and terrifying story. Thanks for sharing.

  • Robert Bovey says:

    A truly wonderful night. David had the crowd hanging on his every word.
    The magic of that night lives on in our memories. Each time I watch this wonderful night on video it gets even more magical!
    Your virtuoso piano playing stood out, as it always has Mike.
    What a band, what a night and what a star!

  • Debbie Burgess says:

    Yes I adore that performance, everything was just right. Thank you for sharing Mike x

  • Sabine says:

    Thank you so much Mike Garson for sharing this story… It is a real true moment of the way you felt on stage, you, the band and Dabid Bowie. I regularly put the video of this great musical moment

  • Emmanouil says:

    Few days before Glastonbury you played in NYC Roseland ballroom a show which Bowienet members had priority on tickets sales. I watched this show and it was one of the best nights of my life. Amazing performance, great audience and 1st time I heard wild is the wind live. Thank you Mike!
    Athens Greece

  • Alan says:

    Beautiful… Gawd I miss him! But I achieved an ambition the night I shook your hand after a concert here in Perth, Western Australia. Thank you for the music Mike.

  • Karen Janis Brown says:

    Incredible!! Thank you for sharing your stories. Thank you for the music! The Bowie celebration shows have been amazing!

  • Neil Rankin says:

    I came to a little side show that You and other Bowie band members performed at The Annandale Hotel in Sydney that was attended by fewer than a hundred punters and had a ball!

    It was great meeting you afterwards and it was an honour shaking the hand that played the Aladdin Sane solo and giving you a copy of our CD.

    Thanks for a brilliantly inspiring career!

  • Richard Williams says:

    I was there. Down near the front, just to the right of David. When he walked on stage, wearing that coat, his hair all magnificent I just started to cry. It was so utterly perfect. I will remember it all my life. You and the band were just wonderful and the set list was everything I could
    have wanted. Thank you.

  • Jan says:

    What an amazing story. Thank you for the music Mike. Xx

  • BRJ says:

    Mike, you could carry that audience on your shoulders and deliver them to David. Nobody could do that quite like you. Thank you