About Mike

Universally respected for his impressive skills as a pianist, Mike Garson is a respected composer, performer and educator, as well.

In his youth, Mike studied classical composition with Leonard Eisner of Juilliard and earned degrees in Music and Education from Brooklyn College. He also studied with Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock, Hal Overton, Robert Starer and Lennie Tristano. He has played with Stanley Clarke, Elvin Jones, Lee Konitz, Stan Getz and Freddie Hubbard.

“Mike is the stealth bomber in the very small circle of Jazz Maestros. His musical knowledge, artistic range, and pianistic technique are vast — stretching across his compelling classical composing and avant-garde rock-and-roll chops as well as his take-no-prisoners jazz improvisation.”


Mike is perhaps best known for his relationship with David Bowie, which began in 1972.

He made his mark on numerous Bowie albums and has travelled thousands of miles on Bowie tours, including his 2003-04 “A Reality Tour,” Bowie’s first world tour in 20 years. In November 2006, Mike accompanied Bowie and Alicia Keys during a unique performance of “Changes” at an AIDS benefit in New York City which ended up being Bowie’s final public U.S. performance.

“It is pointless to talk about his ability as a pianist. He is exceptional. However, there are very, very few musicians, let alone pianists, who naturally understand the movement and free thinking necessary to hurl themselves into experimental or traditional areas of music, sometimes, ironically, at the same time. Mike does this with such enthusiasm that it makes my heart glad just to be in the same room with him.”

David Bowie

Mike’s solid reputation for creativity and quality has motivated many well-known artists to collaborate with them on various projects.

Recently, Mike has collaborated with artists including Sting, Gavin Rossdale, Joe Elliott, Duran Duran, Linda Perry, Gary Oldman, Perry Farrell and Andra Day. Mike can also be heard on Seal’s “Human Being,” St. Vincent’s “Marry Me” as well as a bonus track at the end of No Doubt’s platinum-selling “Return of Saturn” album.

“Mike’s piano parts in Aladdin Sane changed my life.”


Mike has developed special relationships with artists including Trent Reznor.

Mike was featured by Trent on several tracks of Nine Inch Nails’ double-platinum selling “The Fragile” album in addition to a variety of live concert performances with the band. Trent and Mike also collaborated on the soundtracks for the film “Gone Girl” and television series “Watchmen.”

“At the top of my list to collaborate with is Mike Garson from Bowie’s band. Mike is the most inspiring musician I’ve ever come across. He’s a phenomenal pianist. I don’t understand how that sound’s coming out of his instrument.”


Mike and Billy Corgan collaborated in 1999, co-composing the score of the film Stigmata.

Among their collaborations was the haunting hit “Identify,” which was performed by Natalie Imbruglia. Mike toured with The Smashing Pumpkins on their 1998 Adore tour and has performed live with the group on multiple occasions since then.

“Of the whole lot, Mike is the true genius; we are all just toys in his atonal wonderland.”


Since 1982, Mike has been a member of Free Flight, a jazz and classical ensemble featuring renowned flutist Jim Walker.

In addition to serving as the group’s pianist, Mike composed most of their music. Free Flight appeared four times on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

“Mike Garson speaks with emotion in his hands. Melody, harmony, and rhythm get churned into a Garsonian spread with wild and extraordinary spices. I won’t forget the night he exploded my piano into thousands of inspired notes finely funnelled into the tape recorder. He mixes history with true abandon. He eats the piano like a box of popcorn. He makes music out of anything and nothing. He makes me laugh. He gives people joy.”


Mike grew up wanting to be a doctor.

He was pre-med at Brooklyn College in 1963 before the piano playing portion of his brain took over. More recently, Mike began to discover the effect and the power that music can play in the healing process. Garson recently premiered a newly commissioned work, a set of movements of original music compositions, titled “Symphonic Healing Suite” written in collaboration with medical patients which was subsequently performed by the National Symphony.

In more recent years, Mike has been quite busy with a variety of exciting projects.

Mike has headlined his critically acclaimed concert production “A Bowie Celebration” touring the world with fellow alumni of David Bowie’s bands along with world-class vocalists in the years since the passing of David Bowie. Garson is also the subject of the international bestselling biography of his life, “Bowie’s Piano Man – The Life of Mike Garson” by Clifford Slapper.

Garson is as comfortable in jazz, classical, pop and the rock arena.

He is considered one of the world’s best improvisers who has also composed over 5,000 pieces of music – half classical and the rest a mixture of every other imaginable style. Mike continues to be called into duty as the secret weapon behind Billboard-topping, Grammy lauded albums, tours and longstanding artist success.

“Mike Garson is a cathedral of music.”


A lifelong learner, Mike has taught students at master classes and through private instruction.

Mike has appeared at universities around the world where he has both guest lectured and performed for numerous music students and public audiences. Mike’s purpose has always been to inspire and affect lives in a positive way through his music. His hope is that through his music he can help people achieve their dreams. Embracing the idea of creative, spiritual and professional growth, Mike continues to explore new avenues through which he can use his multifaceted talents to provide healing, enjoyment and inspiration to people. To date, Mike has composed over thousands of pieces of music and touched countless people with his motivational music. According to Mike: “If I am truly passionate about and love what I do, I believe that feeling can be transmitted to and inspire the people who receive my art.”

From Bach to Bowie, East coast to west coast, piano keyboards to computer keyboards, Mike Garson has worked to make the world a more creative, compassionate and compelling place.

Mike remains a man of many talents and limitless inspiration. No artistic medium is off-limits to this avant-garde individual to whom the word “no” is quickly transformed into the word “now.”

“Mike is the definitive example of virtuoso piano in a rock context…”


Mike Garson at Piano