With Page Hamilton of Helmet

It was a complete honor working with David Bowie and playing in his band. It was an amazing experience just to get to be around the guy. I got to learn 30 of his songs then go play them at Wembley in front of a million people. It was nerve-racking as well. I had just left my wife and was in a rough place with drinking and doing other things I shouldn’t have been doing for about a month before I got the call from Bowie. So in a lot of ways maybe Bowie saved my life. I could’ve been on a two year binge. I worked my ass off don’t get me wrong, but also my head was not in a great place.

I was crushed when we lost Bowie. In fact, Helmet was just doing a series of vinyl seven inch cover songs and one of the songs we did was the Bowie song “Move On” from his Lodger record. It’s such an underrated song and one of my all-time favorites. I had finished the vocal before Christmas and my manager suggested I send it to him which I was going to do, I didn’t know he was that sick. He had a huge impact on me creatively and personally it was so great to be around him. He was such a sweet human being. He called me “Hangover Hamilton” because I was one of the only ones that drank. I’d be hungover sitting in the Dublin airport and he would come over and give me a kiss on the forehead and say, “Oh Page is at it again.”

I have so many little stories — like eating Chinese food with him in LaGuardia airport. Or him telling me how “Ashes to Ashes” was inspired by Buddy Holly. I don’t know if he said that in interviews, but he told that to me.

I can honestly say having played his music and hearing that voice in my ear monitors, he was really on another level. One of the greatest songwriters ever. What he did for pop music will never be equaled. I think if I hadn’t played with him I would still feel that way.

~Page Hamilton — Helmet frontman / David Bowie lead guitarist, Hours Tour

Article in collaboration with Jeff Gorra — Artist Waves.

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