David Bowie started his career in the late 60s and became one of the most successful artists of all time with an estimated amount of more than 140 million records sold worldwide. Unlike most artists and bands he never tried to make the same kind of music over and over.
During his career, the musician not only tried to change his sound in every record he made but he also changed the way he looked. It was impossible to label Bowie because he was never just one kind of artist. That also reflected on his musical taste because he was always interested in new bands.
Over the decades he talked about many groups and even said that a band from the 80s had a really underrated guitarist.
The guitar player that David Bowie said was terribly underrated
By 1988, David Bowie already was a Pop and Rock living legend and had released all his classic albums and around that time music was changing. The new bands were not interested in all excess the music from the 80s had and were trying to bring things to basics again. One of those groups were The Pixies, formed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1986.
Bowie loved them since their first album “Surfer Rosa” released in 1988 and as he said in an 90s interview available on Youtube, he believed that the band’s guitarist Joey Santiago was very underrated. He praised the guitar player when explaining why he believed The Pixies were so good. One of the most important parts of their sound according to Bowie were “the colors” provided by Santiago to the sound.
(Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage) “The colors that Santiago provided as a guitarist. I think as a guitar player he is terribly underrated. It’s much more about texture. He supplies extraordinary texture. One of the strongest songs that I heard at the time was ‘Debaser’. (The track talks about) two very basic American subjects. The two subjects closest to the American heart, I think,” David Bowie said.
Joey Santiago was born in Manila, Philippines in 1965 and moved with his family to the United States in the early 70s. He is a founding member of The Pixies and like the singer/guitarist Black Francis and drummer David Lovering, was part of all the albums the group released.
He was also part of the band Francis formed after The Pixies disbanded in 1993 and recorded six studio albums with him. In 2004 The Pixies reunited again and since then they released four studio albums. The most recent one is “Doggerel” released in 2022.
David Bowie said The Pixies were absolutely necessary
The Pixies were a huge inspiration for David Bowie. They really influenced him to change his sound in the late 80s and early 90s. Talking with NBC in 2002 (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage), he lamented that they weren’t played on the radio and had not sold many records.
“A major band for me in the 80s in this country were The Pixies. I thought they were absolutely necessary, a very, very important band. Black Francis is a fantastic songwriter and they produce some really exciting music. Obviously Nirvana was terribly influenced (by them and) a number of other bands were influenced by them. But having never played on American radio, they never sold any albums and they broke-up. I’m seeing that beginning to happen again over here,” David Bowie said.
The musician also explained that people weren’t supporting great bands like The Pixies. They weren’t being played on American radio and there was, according to him, “real crap” being played. The Pixies have sold an estimated amount of almost 3 million records worldwide.
Bowie covered The Pixies
David Bowie was not only a fan but also a good friend of the members of The Pixies and they performed together live in concert a few times during the 90s. The British musician had already covered some of their songs live too, including “Debaser”, which was one of his favorites. But in 2002, he included a Pixies cover on his studio album “Heathen”. He made a version for their song “Cactus”, which was originally released on their 1988 album “Surfer Rosa”.
The guitarist Joey Santiago even told Reuters in 2013 that they would have loved to be Bowie’s backup band. “It’s fucking David Bowie! Come on! We could do that. Bowie, the Pixies, together at last! I think that Dylan and the (Grateful) Dead tour kind of served them both very well,” Joey Santiago said.