Bowie was a sublime chameleon, forever reinventing, and bigger than life. He rocked the world of music to its core. He played off conventions, setting trends through his untrammeled freedom. We have been blown away by Black Star, his final album steeped in his love for jazz. He left the stage in a decisive, magnificent fashion. And what class! To have lived all those lives. Whole chapters in ours are reopened with his disappearance. He anchored so many of our moments. When we think about him, when we listen to him, he’s like a planet. Like a galaxy!
Since Monday, at the Festival, like everyone, we have been moved by the deluge of tributes of attachment to the man, to the artist, and to his body of work. We are reminded by our goosebumps how music and certain characters-become-icons impregnate our lives. There is an incalculable intimacy with certain albums: some lift us up, and others transform us. Sometimes it’s a song, and sometimes just a few lyrics: We can be heroes, just for one day…
At Montreux, there was also a true friendship with Bowie. He settled in Blonay at the end of the 1970s, lived between the Lake Geneva region and Berlin, then purchased the Château du Signal, on the edge of the Saubavelin woods, in 1982. He became friends with Claude Nobs. In 1995 he used a computer to create the poster for the Festival. He came up with several versions before insisting on the green and complex one commemorating Hiroshima. It even managed to freak out Claude a bit. But that’s how “carte blanche” works; we prioritize improvisation, so imagine with Bowie! Their friendship is captivating on the precious snapshots taken at the Chalet in Caux: Bowie, playing with Miles Davis’ trumpet in front of the collection of toy trains. Right at home, enjoying simple and succulent meals. Like the chanterelles cooked by chef Frédy Girardet, the night before his show, and that he mentioned on stage. Sun-drenched photo on the slopes, or smiling in a mountaintop restaurant at a ski resort. Bowie the extraterrestrial, Major Tom, signed off from Ground Control on a tenth of January. Three years to the day after his buddy Claude.
And last but not least, his epic concert. His only Montreux show, in 2002. That night, at Auditorium Stravinski, Bowie answered the curtain call by playing the entirety of Low, the album from his Berlin years. At the very end, he jokingly invited the audience to continue the party at Claude’s chalet. To keep them with him a bit longer, away from the stage. To transport them into the infinite.
Thank you for the elegance, David Bowie.