Legendary Guitarist Earl Slick Joins Celebrating David Bowie Lineup, Coming to Philly 2/11

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Photos by Joe Del Tufo

For legendary guitarist Earl Slick, life is better on the road.

“As a human, I function better on a tour – I don’t have to take out the trash!” he laughs as he speaks to Rock On Philly in a phone interview. “I was just born to tour… the entire world disappears when I’m on stage, all that’s there is the band and the audience.”

Throughout his storied career, he’s played with John Lennon, the New York Dolls, Tom Waits, and many others, but perhaps most notably he was David Bowie’s sideman on and off for over 40 years.

Slick started playing with Bowie in 1974 for the Diamond Dogs tour. He played lead guitar on landmark Bowie albums such as Young Americans and Station to Station. He notoriously joined Bowie’s 1983 Serious Moonlight tour last minute after Stevie Ray Vaughn left amid a dispute with Bowie’s management.

Slick still remembers the day he received the fateful call. “I took my daughter to school and when I returned my wife says you just got a call from Bowie’s booking agent. I called him back and he said we need a guitar player tomorrow, the first gig is in five days. I had to jump on a plane and fly to Brussels and learn a 3 hour show in 3 days. I didn’t sleep!”

He doesn’t regret a moment of it, however. “It was an easy decision. When [David and I] parted in ’76, it wasn’t a pleasant thing… when we got back together in ’83 we told each other our sides and we realized two different camps played us. We did a great tour.”

30 years later, he worked on Bowie’s penultimate album, The Next Day. He was hoping another tour would happen, but unfortunately it never materialized. “I could tell, knowing him for 40 years, that he did not want to tour. I could see it in his eyes. He already had [the musical] Lazarus in his head, and that’s not something you put together in a week,” he says. 

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