born on 29/7/1945 in New York City, NY, United States
After graduating from Brooklyn College with a music major in 1970, Garson was a member of rock/country/jazz band Brethren with Rick Marotta, Tom Cosgrove and Stu Woods. They recorded two hard-to-find albums on the Tiffany label, which featured guest piano and liner notes by Dr. John (and album photography by Murray Head, who scored a hit with "Say it Ain't So Joe" and later with the single "One Night In Bangkok").
Garson also earned notice when he played on the I'm the One album by early 1970s experimental artist Annette Peacock. Bowie asked Peacock to join him on a tour; she declined, but Garson began an enduring relationship with Bowie.
Work with David Bowie
Garson gave the piano and keyboard backing on the later Ziggy Stardust tour and his unique contribution to Aladdin Sane (1913-1938-197?) gave the song an avant-garde jazz feel with lengthy and sometimes atonal piano solos.
|I had told Bowie about the avant-garde thing. When I was recording the "Aladdin Sane" track for Bowie, it was just two chords, an A and a G chord, and the band was playing very simple English rock and roll. And Bowie said: 'play a solo on this.' I had just met him, so I played a blues solo, but then he said: 'No, thats not what I want.' And then I played a latin solo. Again, Bowie said: 'No no, thats not what I want.' He then continued: 'You told me you play that avant-garde music. Play that stuff!' And I said: 'Are you sure? Cause you might not be working anymore!'. So I did the solo that everybody knows today, in one take. And to this day, I still receive emails about it. Every day. I always tell people that Bowie is the best producer I ever met, because he lets me do my thing.
Garson played also for Bowie's bandmate Mick Ronson on his first and last solo tour, and his first album (Slaughter on Tenth Avenue). Garson came to replace Ronson as Bowie's musical lieutenant on several occasions. Notably on "We Are the Dead" from the Diamond Dogs album, where Garson's metronome like keyboard provides a dramatic setting for Bowie's vocals and on the title track to Young Americans where his jaunty piano leads the band. Garson played with Bowie on and off over the years, resurfacing on The Buddha of Suburbia album and the ambitious Outside album.
Parallel to this work with Bowie, Garson engaged in his own solo career as a jazz pianist, pushing the bounds of his art. He is regarded in the industry as one of the very few 'rock' pianists capable of performing extended piano solos. He remains one of the most highly sought-after session musicians with a unique sound of his own.
In 1993, Garson began a short-lived series of Screen Themes albums, jazz renditions of major themes and suites from film scores of 1993, and the following year, 1994. The latter album featured the recording debut of Jessica L. Tivens, at age 13, who had previously appeared on Star Search. Both albums were released by Discovery Records.
Garson worked with the reformed Spiders From Mars in 1975, alongside Mick Woodmansey, Trevor Bolder, Dave Black (guitar) and Pete McDonald (vocals). They recorded one eponymous album in 1976 before going their separate ways.
He joined the Smashing Pumpkins for their Adore tour, playing piano, keyboards and synthesizer. His piano playing was an integral part of the Pumpkins' performance. After the tour, he joined Corgan on his solo effortthe soundtrack for the movie Stigmata. Garson did not perform the song "Le Deux Machina" on the Pumpkins' Machina II album, but did play on the corresponding piano section of "Glass and the Ghost Children" off of Machina/The Machines of God, which was actually excerpts of the version from The Friends and Enemies of Modern Music tape. Garson also played on Nine Inch Nails albums The Fragile and With Teeth, as well as with No Doubt and many other acts.
Recently Mike Garson appeared on Myspace with his own music site, and to date has released some 50 free tracks. He is currently working on three new albums, as well as collaborating with several bands as touring player/session musician. His latest collaboration shows up on the last "met-on-Myspace" French artist Kuta's album A Home. Garson also contributed to and received co writing credit on the track "Something Unseen" by Athens, GA power pop band Chris McKay & the Critical Darlings. He has also been collaborating with the Norwegian band Sleepyard. In addition to this, he worked on the writing and recording of two songs on mathcore band The Dillinger Escape Plan's latest release, Option Paralysis. He has also worked on several projects with the photographer Alex Boyd, including scoring the soundtrack to the short film Die Hasenjagd.
In November 2010 he recorded an album of Bowie covers called The Bowie Variations, which was released in July 2011 as a HDCD. He has also collaborated with James Iha, appearing on his second solo album Look to the Sky (2012).
- Main article: Mike Garson Discography
- Avant Garson (Contemporary Records, 1979)
- Jazzical (1982)
- Serendipity (1986)
- Remember Love (1989)
- The Mystery Man (1990)
- Oxnard Sessions, Vol.1 (1990)
- A Gershwin Fantasia (1992)
- Oxnard Sessions, Vol.2 (1992)
- Now Music, Vol.4 (1998)
- Homage to my Heroes (2003)
- Conversations with my Family (2008)
- Lost In Conversation (2008)
- The Bowie Variations (2011, HDCD)
- 2008 Interview with Mike Garson
- Official website
- Regenmag Mike Garson An interview in which Mike talks about his career to date
- Mike Garson at Reverbnation
- Mike Garson at the Internet Movie Database
- Official Mike Garson YouTube channel
|Avant Garson Jazzical Serendipity Remember Love The Mystery Man Oxnard Sessions, Vol.1 A Gershwin Fantasia Oxnard Sessions, Vol.2 Now Music, Vol.4 Homage to my Heroes Conversations with my Family Lost In Conversation
|Contemplation EP Part of the Whole Anxcity Hope In Forgotten Places
|The Buddha of Suburbia Stigmata OST
|With David Bowie
|Ziggy Stardust Aladdin Sane Pin Ups Diamond Dogs Young Americans Black Tie White Noise Outside Earthling 'hours...' Heathen Reality David Live Stage Ziggy Stardust (soundtrack) Santa Monica '72 LiveAndWell.com Bowie at the Beeb ChangesTwoBowie The Best of Bowie Rare Sound and Vision Changesbowie The Singles Collection The Best of 1969/1974 The Best of 1974/1979 All Saints Best of Bowie The Platinum Collection Bowie Box Set
|With Stan Getz
|Stan Getz Live Stan Getz & Colleagues Stan Getz Is Jazz - Live by the Sea
|With Stanley Clarke
|I Wanna Play for You Modern Man
|With Free Flight
|Beyond the Clouds Illumination Slice of Life Best of Free Flight Free Flight 2000
|With Mick Ronson
|Slaughter on 10th Avenue Play Don't Worry
|Smashing Pumpkins - Machina, Machina II Nine Inch Nails - The Fragile Seal - Human Being Polyphonic Spree - The Fragile Army No Doubt - Return of Saturn
|David Bowie - Ziggy Stardust David Bowie - A Reality Tour Raphaël Haroche - Live Une Nuit Au Châtelet
|Discography David Bowie Jim Walker Stan Getz Mick Ronson Stanley Clarke Trevor Bolder Annette Peacock Nine Inch Nails Reeves Gabrels Smashing Pumpkins