Tickets to the Paramount Theatre's March 21 presentation of "A Bowie Celebration: The David Bowie Alumni Tour" have been on sale for a while, but now there's a much more significant incentive for Austinites to attend: Hometown hero Charlie Sexton will be on board.
Sexton recently signed on for select dates — including Austin, Dallas and Houston — on the two-month tour of North America and Europe. Heading up the band is longtime Bowie keyboardist Mike Garson; others taking part are Earl Slick, Carmine Rojas, Gerry Leonard, Bernard Fowler, Corey Glover and Lee John.
Sexton's tenure with Bowie was fleeting but significant. It's best documented in this YouTube video from a 1987 Sydney concert that aired on Australian national TV:
In 2016 and 2017, Sexton performed Bowie songs with the elementary-school Barton Hills Choir during South by Southwest and the Austin City Limits Music Festival. Earlier this year, Sexton spoke to us about getting to know Bowie when they were both living in Los Angeles in the mid-1980s:
“He was finishing a record out there, so he was around for months, and we would go eat and hang out,” Sexton recalls. “We actually were working on a song at my house one time,” he adds tantalizingly, noting he still has a work tape of that unfinished song somewhere in a duffel bag at his house.
Shortly thereafter, Bowie was on tour in Texas, and he invited Sexton to fly in for shows in Austin and Dallas. Out of that grew an invitation to Australia for a tour that included a filmed concert on national television. Charlie was 19. “Bless life, who can say that?” he chuckles.
A decade later, Bowie got back in touch, asking Sexton if he’d consider joining his band for a tour. Problem was, Sexton had just signed on for his first tour as Dylan’s guitarist. Bless life, indeed.
"I vividly remember being in West Palm Beach, Fla., learning Stanley Brothers, Louvin Brothers and all these hillbilly gospel songs (for the Dylan tour), which are great,” he says. “And then I get the call: ‘David wants you to come do a tour.’ It’s like driving a tractor in the fields of Kansas and a spaceship lands and they go, ‘Hey, you wanna come with us?’”
READ MORE: For all the right reasons, Charlie Sexton is Austin music's MVP