Re-live Bowie’s golden years in Oshawa

Michael Bell performs as David Bowie as part of The Bowie Lives tribute show. Photo credit: Gareth Skipp

It might be fair to say Michael Bell is enjoying the ch-ch-changes in his life that have led him to singing the songs of legendary rocker David Bowie.

Bell, 58, was born in Toronto and has been channeling his inner Bowie since the 1980s. He has been performing throughout Ontario for the past several months and makes a stop in Oshawa in March.

Bell has been told he’s been a music lover since birth.

“I grew up with my grandparents and my grandmother used to say to me I was born tapping my foot,” Bell said. “So, it’s like, the music’s just always been in me.”

Bell says he has been playing in bands his entire life. By the time he was in Grade 7, he secured his first paid gig.

In 1984, Bell returned to Toronto after living in Peterborough and formed the band “Eye Eye,” with drummer Mark Caporal, bassist Doug Ruston and guitarist Andy Ryan.

The group won Toronto radio station Q-107’s Homegrown talent competition and earned a most-promising group Juno nomination in 1986.

After meeting his wife, Bell took a step back from performing and started an entertainment publication, The Wire Megazine, in 1989.

Five years ago, Bell started offloading responsibilities so he could make a return to the front lines of the music business.

“My kids were grown and gone and life was stable, and all that kind of stuff lined up, so I knew that I could return,” Bell said.

Following the death of Bowie on Jan. 10, 2016, Bell says several people encouraged him to develop a tribute show.

“About eight months after David passed, I had a number of people start suggesting I go back out and do it, asking if I had interest,” Bell said. “I kind of didn’t, I felt kind of weird about it.”

Bell came to the realization that paying tribute to Bowie would be appropriate based on the relationship he had with the performer.

“Not to suggest I knew him or anything of that nature,” Bell said. “But my whole kind of approach to life, art and music were shaped by him as a young guy.”

Bell bought his first Bowie record when he was nine.

“As I joined bands and had bands through high school, I always sang Bowie,” Bell said. “I learned how to really sing like him, you know, big chops, big range, all that sort of thing.”

Bell said he hopes his performance helps strengthen the bond between fans and Bowie’s music

“A lot of folks will come up to me after a show and say, ‘I had no idea those were all his songs!’.”

Bell brings his show “The Bowie Lives” to the Regent Theatre in Oshawa on March 7. Tickets are being sold at the box office for $35.

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