The Dandy Warhols first met Bowie because he was singing along. It was Glastonbury in 2000, and the band looked to the side of the stage during their set to see Bowie and his band, in their black suits, belting along.
In 2002, Bowie headlined the Meltdown Festival in London, and he invited the Dandies to be the first band since Lou Reed to share his stage. Then he took them on tour as the opening act for the European dates of his Reality Tour, which would be his final. Then he came out to shoot pool and jam with them in their Portland warehouse, the Odditorium.
In other words, the Dandies probably came closer into the orbit of the star that was Bowie than did any other Portlanders. Band members Courtney Taylor-Taylor, Zia McCabe and Peter Homlstrom told us what it was like to know the man.
On meeting Bowie
Courtney Taylor-Taylor: All these people in black trench coats or Gucci Armani suits, are singing along, to “Boy’s Better,” I remember. And it’s pretty hysterical that ended up being Bowie and his band. I think I just about crapped by pants.
On sharing the stage with Bowie
CT: We’re getting ready before he’s going to go on for his encore. He’s changing clothes, and he’s like, “OK, Courtney, oh Lord, you’re tall. Damn. Get my Ziggy boots.”
We walked out and the crowd went, “Haaa.” And he said, “The only other time in my career I’ve allowed another band to come on my stage was 30 years ago to the week in this room.” And everyone goes, “Haaa.” And he goes, “and that person was Lou Reed.” And everyone goes, “Haaa,” even louder. And he said, “A month ago, when I asked Courtney what song he wanted to do, he chose the same song I chose 30 years ago with Lou Reed. Ladies and gentlemen, ‘White Light, White Heat.’” Everyone went bananas.
Zia McCabe: I refused to play the synth. Like absolutely not. Only playing tambourine. I want to have fun doing this … It was kind of scary. You see again how we never could quite get on the same page on stage. He kind of touches me, and I’m looking off. Then he tries to dance with me, and I’m looking the other way. Then he tries to hug me, and my back’s to him. He was always this weird uncle trying to be my friend, and I could never understand. It was the weirdest relationship.
On learning of his death
Peter Holmstrom: We were all on a plane coming back from Santiago. We had just played a festival there. Our tour manager came up to me and told me the news, and I had to sit there the rest of the flight and think about it.
CT: The first thing I thought was I never appreciated how bizarre and unbelievable fortunate we were to be friends with and know a person of that magnitude and brilliance and vision and to have him really love what we do.
PH: Facebook turned into Bowiebook.
ZM: The wake though: You picture people gathering in someone’s living room, photos spread out everywhere. And they tell each other their personal stories and memories. And this is happening globally through social media.
CT: When they asked me what’s it feel like, I said, “I feel like I learned that my father and Elvis just died. Everyone freaked out when Elvis went. Did we have an Elvis yet? This is it. This is our Elvis.”
The Dandy Warhols’ new single, “You Are Killing Me,” came out Jan. 8.