Harrah’s Lake Tahoe will host a cover artist playing a particularly poignant persona when Space Oddity, David Brighton’s Tribute to David Bowie, appears in the South Shore Room on Saturday, April 16. The renowned pop artist and culture figure passed away in January, succumbing to the effects of liver cancer just two days after the release of his final album, “Blackstar.”
Hailing from Los Angeles, Brighton has enjoyed a long career playing both original and cover music. He was a lead guitarist as a sideman and with an original band for many years, performing around Europe and the United States before hitting upon cover bands as an avenue to more consistent success in the industry.
“I first did a George Harrison impression with a spinoff of the original Beatlemania show,” Brighton said. He played the role through the 1990s, working with a variety of other Beatles impersonators, before he hit upon an untapped idea.
“I saw a show called Legends in concert; they had impersonators for everybody, but I didn’t see Bowie in there,” Brighton said. “David Bowie was a voice I could always do, so I thought, ‘I could do a David Bowie act.’ ”
Brighton unveiled his first show in 2000, and has been going ever since, backed up by a crew that includes Chris Switch (guitar), Paul Nelson (guitar, vocals), Larry Rott (bass), Donna Cristy (keyboard, backing vocals), and Ty Dennis (drums). The musicians’ backgrounds are many and varied; Dennis, for example, spent 10 years playing with the Doors, Brighton said.
Brighton and company perform material from every era of Bowie’s lengthy and varied career, covering a number of the artist’s many different styles and personas.
“We try as much as possible to recreate what he did. However, as hard as one tries, we can never be someone else, so aspects of our own personality are present,” Brighton said. “But I really try to put on the Bowie characters. There are so many personas. I generally do four or five costumes per show from different eras.”
Brighton’s work has taken him all over the United States, Europe and other areas. One high point came in 2003, when he was invited to appear with the actual David Bowie in a French commercial for mineral water.
“That was amazing, working with the real David Bowie,” he said. “I played Bowie in a bunch of his different personas, and he played himself as he was at the time.”
The act has appeared alongside renowned musicians such as Elton John, and has received high praise from numerous musicians and producers that worked alongside Bowie, as well as official recognition on the pop icon’s website, Brighton said.
The upcoming show marks the second appearance in two years at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe for Brighton and Space Oddity (the name of a Bowie song commonly known as “Major Tom”), but the first since the beloved star’s passing.
“Well, of course, it was very difficult, very sad when one of your heroes passes,” Brighton said. “I am thankful, however, that he left an enormous body of work. It’s lasted decades and it’s going to continue to last. I just think he was such an important artist, such a game-changer in the music field. I’m thankful that he has left that legacy.”
While well-recognized in the past, Brighton and Space Oddity’s role has taken on an added significance since Bowie’s death.
“Humanity seems to latch on to something once they don’t have it anymore,” Brighton said. “The consciousness of his music should grow even more than it has in the past. He was a superstar in the past, and now a lot of people that weren’t aware of him in the past seem to be more aware.”
Related story: ‘My Time With David Bowie’ LINK
- Space Oddity, David Brighton’s Tribute to David Bowie
When: 7:30 p.m., Saturday, April 16
Where: Harrah’s Lake Tahoe South Shore Room
Tickets: $23 – $97