The 2023 DAVID BOWIE WORLD FAN CONVENTION promises a weekend of stardust-spangled grandeur on June 17-18, 2023 at New York City’s Terminal 5. With preparations well under way, the excitement grows with the first announcement of special guest speakers and presenters.
Bringing together a cornucopia of collaborators from every period of Bowie’s multi-faceted career, the luminaries in attendance at the event include acclaimed producer Tony Visconti, whose partnership with Bowie across five decades spawned fourteen classic albums from 1969’s Space Oddity to 2016’s Blackstar. Joining Tony are other long-time collaborators including pianist Mike Garson, whose association with Bowie spans 30 years from Aladdin Sane to Reality, and guitarist and bandleader Carlos Alomar, a veteran of eleven albums and the co-writer of Bowie’s first US number 1 single, ‘Fame’. Fans will be thrilled to learn that Carlos is to be reunited with his bandmate George Murray, the bass guitarist who played with Carlos on two world tours and six albums including the legendary Berlin trilogy – this will be George’s first ever appearance at a Bowie event. Other guest speakers include guitarist Kevin Armstrong, who played on ‘Absolute Beginners’ and led Bowie’s band at Live Aid; Carmine Rojas, who played bass on the classic Let’s Dance album and the Serious Moonlight tour; multi-instrumentalist and Earthling co-producer Mark Plati; Tin Machine producer Tim Palmer; and performance artist Joey Arias, who appeared alongside Klaus Nomi during Bowie’s groundbreaking Saturday Night Live performance in 1979. And there’s more! A full list of confirmed speakers is below, with further names to be added in the coming months.
A rousing and exciting sold-out success, the first ever David Bowie World Fan Convention in June 2022 gathered 1,500 fans in Liverpool, England from as far afield as Japan and the US to meet each other and celebrate David Bowie. Moderated by author and Bowie expert extraordinaire Nicholas Pegg (The Complete David Bowie) who returns for the second convention, The David Bowie World Fan Convention immersed attendees into his hidden, hilarious, and sometimes heartbreaking world. Fans were able to come face-to-face with many of his friends and colleagues including Carlos Alomar, Robin Clark, Gail Ann Dorsey, Donny McCaslin, Woody Woodmansey, Jonathan Barnbrook, Kevin Cann, Chris Duffy, and John Cambridge.
2023’s U.S. edition of the convention dedicated to all things Bowie coincides with both the 40th anniversary of his Let’s Dance album and the 50th anniversary of his iconic Aladdin Sane —and is coming to Terminal 5 (610 West 56th Street, NYC) in NYC’s vibrant Hell’s Kitchen, filling the innovative, multi-level and multi-environmental venue with an informative and exciting array of talks, meet-and-greets, live performances, and, of course, the show-stopping Bowie Ball, the glittering centerpiece to the weekend. Brimming with attendees donning costumes and make-up reflecting their favorite eras from Bowie’s illustrious career, the Bowie Ball is an exhilarating celebration with live music performance, DJs, best dressed competitions, all topped off with Bowie-themed drinks and dancing that begins at 7pm on Saturday night and extends to midnight.
Limited VIP tickets will afford fans the opportunity to visit key New York City locations linked to Bowie’s historic work and the years he spent living there..
A Bowie NYC map will also be created so that everyone attending can make their own pilgrimages around the city.
A full list of confirmed speakers is below, with further names to be added in the coming months
Contributor pen portraits by Nick Smart
Carlos Alomar played guitar on eleven Bowie studio albums between 1975 and 2003 – more than any musician other than Mike Garson (also a guest). He formed part of Bowie’s famed DAM trio backing band along with George Murray (also a guest!) and the late Dennis Davis. He has writing credits on a range of Bowie songs including ‘Fame’ (with John Lennon), ‘Never Let Me Down’ and ‘Red Money’ and has worked with Lennon, Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Scissor Sisters, Alicia Keys, and many others.
As a singer, performance artist and drag artist, Joey Arias has been performing for many years on the stages of America. ‘In 1979, he appeared alongside Klaus Nomi as a dancer and backing vocalist for Bowie’s groundbreaking Saturday Night Live performance in which the songs ‘The Man Who Sold the World’, ‘TVC 15’ and ‘Boys Keep Swinging’ were performed.
When Kevin received an invitation to record with a ‘Mr. X’ in 1985, it was, he says, a ‘marvelous surprise’ when Bowie walked in. Over a ten-year period, Kevin recorded ‘Absolute Beginners’, ‘Dancing in the Street’ and the first Tin Machine album with Bowie as well as contributing to the Outside album. He played guitar with Bowie at Live Aid, played on Iggy Pop’s album Blah Blah Blah, produced by Bowie and continues as Iggy’s band leader.
Robin Clark is a singer who performed beautiful soul vocals on the Young Americans album in 1975. Her vocals also feature prominently on the title song of the album. She is featured notably in the Cracked Actor documentary working on the complicated vocal arrangement for the song ‘Right’. She has toured and recorded with Simple Minds and worked with many legendary artists including Bruce Springsteen, Tina Turner, Bob Dylan, Beyonce, Dolly Parton, and Michael Jackson.
A classically trained pianist, Mike Garson joined the Ziggy Stardust tour in 1972, soon going on to play on the Aladdin Sane album and the accompanying 1973 tour. Mike would go on to appear on a total of eleven Bowie albums, from Pin Ups (1973) to Reality (2003) and played live with Bowie on more occasions than any other individual.
A key member of Bowie’s band over five years in the late 1970s, George Murray was the bass player in the famous DAM trio alongside Carlos Alomar and Dennis Davis. He performed on Station to Station, the iconic Berlin trilogy (Low, “Heroes” and Lodger) and Scary Monsters. George left the music industry decades ago and rarely grants interviews. Fans will be clamouring to hear his stories.
Nacho is a self-taught filmmaker from Britain. He is well-known to Bowie fans for creating, editing, and restoring Bowie videos. In 2020, Nacho produced the documentary David Bowie in New York 1980: The Elephant Man, Scary Monsters and Other Strange People. In March 2021, he released an updated version of his documentary David Bowie is The Man Who Fell to Earth which was praised by the original film’s director, Nic Roeg. It was endorsed by the official David Bowie website and commended by Bowie’s wife, Iman.
Chris O’Leary is a writer, editor and journalist based in western Massachusetts. His work has appeared in Pitchfork, Slate, Billboard, LA Review of Books, Mojo, and New York. He is the author of the Bowie website Pushing Ahead of the Dame, a song-by-song chronicle of Bowie’s work. His work on Bowie has been published in two volumes: Rebel Rebel and Ashes to Ashes.
Tim is a British record producer now based in Austin, Texas. He was producer of both albums by Bowie’s late 80s/ early 90s band Tin Machine. He has also produced and mixed for other artists including U2, Robert Plant and Tears for Fears. He plays an active part in The Recording Academy/Grammys and has been a board member in Texas since 2012 and is a national trustee.
An acknowledged expert on David Bowie, Nicholas is the author of the encyclopedic and authoritative The Complete David Bowie which is known to fans as the Bowie Bible. Also a professional actor, Nicholas’s Twitter account describes him as the only Equity member to have played Hamlet, a Dalek and an otter. He compered the inaugural World Bowie Fan Convention in 2022 and reprises his role for NYC23.
In 1996, Mark co-produced David Bowie’s Earthling album, which marked the beginning of a period in which he produced, recorded, mixed, or performed on most of Bowie’s musical output until 2003. He has played guitar, bass and keyboards with Bowie and co-produced the long-unreleased album Toy which finally had an official release in 2021. He also served as Bowie’s musical director for live performances.
Carmine played bass on the Let’s Dance, Tonight and Never Let Me Down albums and toured the world on the Serious Moonlight and Glass Spider tours in 1983 and 1987. He has worked with a host of legendary artists including Mick Jagger, Stevie Wonder, Rod Stewart, Steve Winwood, Billy Joel, and BB King.
Bowie’s 1969 album, David Bowie (Space Oddity) was produced by Tony Visconti. The partnership went on to be one the most enduring of Bowie’s career and generated at least fourteen albums culminating in Bowie’s final masterpiece Blackstar in 2016. His relationship with a backing singer was the inspiration for the classic “Heroes.” Since 2014, he has performed with the Bowie supergroup, Holy Holy. He has produced classic albums by T. Rex, Sparks, Thin Lizzy and many others.
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