Dwight Yoakam Reveals Elvis Presley Wanted David Bowie To Produce His Next Album
We keep digging more David Bowie stories every day, and this new one is quite surprising for many reasons,… First it comes from someone whom I never thought I had met Bowie… Really? Dwight Yoakam met Bowie and they had some friendly chats? Surprising because, when you think about Bowie’s music and work, you don’t necessarily think country and honky-tonk music. Nevertheless the two men shared something essential, a mutual admiration for Elvis Presley.
I saw Dwight Yoakam this summer, and I mentioned Elvis since I thought his far-from-being-dusty country style was amazingly making the connection between Elvis, Cash and someone like Beck. Although Bowie didn’t cross my mind during his performance, this is the only musician Yoakam had in his mind during his interview with the OC register published on Thursday.
‘I love the guitars on that [‘Rebel Rebel’] and took inspiration from that,’ revealed Yoakam, ‘He was an artist all the way until the end, purely and truly in every sense of the word. He should be an inspiration for all musical artists.’
‘He showed a lot of respect to the audience and was grateful for the gift that the artists are given in being able to make music and continue to have the opportunity to express themselves, of course in David’s case, to a massive and wide audience. It’s a lesson in just remembering to be grateful.’
Then talking about Bowie’s last release: ‘Clearly he was aware at that point of his mortality throughout the process of creating ‘Blackstar’. He did it all with such dignity and grace, and I think that’s an absolutely overwhelming illustration of what the definition of an artist is, through and through, and in David’s case, he did that all the way to his dying breath. He just kept giving art to audiences.’
He keeps calling him with his first name, but as I said both men met, after a show at the Hollywood Athletic Club during the ‘Earthling’ tour in 1997. And this is where the interview becomes surprising … Yoakam asked Bowie about Elvis. and Bowie made a surprising revelation: six months before the King’s death in 1977, Elvis called him out of the blue to discuss him possibly producing the his next album.
‘That was based on Elvis having heard Bowie’s ‘Golden Years,’ and I thought ‘Oh my God, it’s a tragedy that he was never able to make that,’ added Yoakam. ‘I couldn’t even imagine 1977 David Bowie producing Elvis. It would have been fantastic. It has to be one of the greatest tragedies in pop music history that it didn’t happen, one of the biggest missed opportunities.’
Indeed, could you even imagine this? Because I can’t, especially with the Elvis of 1977. For me Bowie and Presley only shared a birth day, January 8th…. And yes, I know, serendipitously, Presley also had a song called ‘Blackstar’.
Dwight Yoakam himself deeply regrets that his encounter with Bowie just stayed an encounter, ‘It would have been great to have been able to work with him,’ but ‘it just wasn’t to be.’ And may be Yoakam will cover ‘Rebel Rebel’ instead of ‘Suspicious Minds’ next time I see him.