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Last Updated: Monday, 8 January 2007, 08:26 GMT
'Bowie is an innovator' - Visconti
Starman: Visconti produced some of Bowie's most acclaimed albums
Tony Visconti's production skills feature on many of David Bowie's classic albums such as Diamond Dogs, Heroes, Low, Lodger and Scary Monsters and Super Creeps.

He worked with Bowie again on his recent albums Heathen and Reality.

In an interview to mark Bowie's 60th birthday, Visconti tells the BBC News Website why he thinks Bowie has endured and reflects on a partnership that began 40 years ago.

I met David when he was 20, in my office in Oxford Street. He seemed very nervous but communicated very articulately - about everything under the sun!

We were supposed to talk about working together, but we ended up talking about Buddhism, obscure recordings and foreign films. We ended our first interview by going to the cinema to see A Knife In The Water by Roman Polanski.

Tony Visconti
It was so important that the words matched the impact of the radical music we had already recorded
Tony Visconti
He is great fun to work with. His charming sense of humour and confidence pervades the recording studio and everyone is affected by it.

He has great ideas and surrounds himself with very talented musicians who embellish those ideas.

He is very respectful towards his co-workers, encourages creativity from them and fully credits others for their input.

Whilst working on the album Heroes he laboured with his lyric writing. It was hard for him to go home and write lyrics.

Lyrical struggles

It was so important that the words matched the impact of the radical music we had already recorded.

Consequently, he composed his lyrics writing and singing them two lines at a time in front of the microphone.

He'd tell me to put the tape machine into record and when he finished two lines he'd say "stop". Then he'd scribble two more lines and ask for them to be recorded immediately after the last two lines.

David Bowie's Heroes album
Visconti also provided backing on the Heroes album

I have never worked with another artist who could do that!

His voice is much deeper and his music is more complicated now.

Some of the songs on Heathen and Reality could only be written by a more mature Bowie. The subject matter in these albums is far more philosophical in nature than the 70s music.


Bowie is the most flexible of all rock stars. He never got stuck in a rut.

I'm sure some of his fans would still love to see him in his Ziggy regalia, but David is still around these days, and still very vital, because he killed off his older "personas".

David Bowie
Visconti produced Bowie's most recent studio album, Reality (2003)
He is an innovator who's proved time and again that the only way to make music a vital part of our culture is to continue to break the rules.

He has given birth to movements in rock where his imitators actually did better than him in record sales, like Kiss and Alice Cooper.

There is nothing down-to-earth about his motivation. Rock music has only been one influence on him.

He's drawn artistic inspiration from jazz, music theatre, classical music, electronic music, Asian arts and philosophies and punk, to name a few!

He's managed to amalgamate all of his influences and come up with new genres.

I would love to make at least one more album with him
Tony Visconti
In some way I think you've got the ultimate David Bowie in the album Hunky Dory. It is one of my favourites and I didn't even produce it.

Since 1967, when we started working together, we have influenced each other.

Whenever we work together we spend as much time talking about many non-musical topics as we do recording music. He sends me a lot of new music I haven't heard before.

I'm not working with him now and, as far as I know, he's not making a new album with anyone else.

I've produced and co-produced a dozen albums with him, but he's recorded as many without me.

It's his prerogative to "shuffle the deck", to change his band and his producer, and I respect that decision. But I would love to make at least one more album with him, within the next 10 years.

Tony Visconti's autobiography will be published on 7 February through Harper Collins.

David Bowie performing on stage as Ziggy Stardust

In pictures: Bowie's golden years
04 Feb 04 |  In Pictures


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