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David Bowie’s ‘Lazarus’ Collaborators Reminisce Creating the Musical & Album

Nashville, TN, United States / 93.3 Classic Hits


In a recent Rolling Stone‘s article, David Bowie’s ‘Lazarus’ collaborators reminisce the emotional process of creating the musical and its new album. Bowie hand-picked the musicians and performers of the production who only had one day to record all of the material. Early that morning, however, many of the cast members were shocked to discover that Bowie passed the previous night due to a long battle with cancer. They pushed themselves to complete the project despite their grief.

The cast had spent the past few months working very closely with Bowie in a tiny downtown theater in New York City and had taken their bows with him onstage only a few weeks prior for the musical’s opening night. The musical was written as a sequel to his movie The Man Who Fell to Earth in 1976 featuring classic hits such as “Life on Mars” and “Heroes.” These songs were also mixed with four others that were written specifically for the project.

“We all cuddled in the control booth and sat in on each other’s songs,” says Sophia Ann Caruso, a 15-year-old actress in the performance. “If I saw them sitting in there, I probably would’ve had a meltdown. I was crying all morning.”

Pianist and producer, Henry Hey, heard from Bowie in September of 2014 about his hopes to create ‘Lazarus.’

“Anything with David I was interested in working on. Then I saw the script, which was quite esoteric. It’s a very non-traditional theater piece,” Hey said. “He’d say, ‘Let’s get together at your place and we can drink coffee and talk about music. That was a great approach, very disarming. A lot of people are intimidated by this legendary icon David Bowie, but he was very humble. For him, art came first. He didn’t seem concerned with fame, and that made the process so easy. Only the people who were close to him knew he was sick. Of course, I knew. It was necessary for me to know. But he never wanted it to define him. He was incredibly positive and creative every time I worked with him.”

During the few months of preparation, Bowie became close with the cast as he attended rehearsals.

“None of us knew he was sick,” says Caruso. “He was skinnier than usual, though he’s always been thin. He came a fair amount, but for a new musical I sort of expected a writer to be there more often, so I did wonder if something was going on.”

Caruso’s performance included a scene where she sings “Heroes” with Michael C. Hall while gliding across the stage on their stomachs in a pool of white liquid.

“I got floor burn on my chest during rehearsals. One night I slid off the stage and an audience member caught me. It was crazy,” she said.

The night before the cast recording, Hey said that he was up late preparing for the busy day ahead. Before falling asleep, he received a text saying that Bowie had passed away.

“I wrote the cast and said, ‘David really wanted this recording to happen. This is what he wanted, and we have to go and make this record. There’s a reason for us to be in the studio today.’ It was a hard day, but it was also beautiful,” said Hey.

Many of the ‘Lazarus’ cast members are now in London preparing for a West End production of the musical that will open on October 25th. The album will come out just four days prior and will contain all 17 songs from the production.

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