When asked about one particular memory that stands out about his friend and collaborator, the late David Bowie, guitarist Carlos Alomar brings up a personal one that occurred almost 45 years ago involving someone they had both worked with. “David was living next to me,” he says. “We were having a large time. Our families were together. Little Zowie [now called Duncan] is playing with my daughter Lea-Lorien. They’re the only kids in the building. We’re living a large life, we’ve got beautiful places that we’re living, and everything is happy with the world. And [John] Lennon gets shot, and David is inconsolable. He comes over to my house, and we share that moment because we don’t wanna be alone. So memories of the greatest times have to be shared with the worst of times that you have to get over. And those really look at the life and breath–the highs and the lows have to be put together to equal the existence of your relationship.”
That relationship is an essential part of Alomar’s longtime connection to Bowie’s career. For three decades, the Puerto Rico-born, New York-raised musician had worked on the icon’s many albums (including Young Americans, Station to Station, Low, “Heroes”, Lodger, Scary Monsters, Outside and Reality) and tours. Naturally, he has accumulated anecdotes and stories from his time with the icon that he will share at this year’s David Bowie World Fan Convention, which will take place June 17-18 in New York City.
“We’re looking at not a fan, but the real word: the fanatic,” says Alomar about the event, which started last year in Liverpool. “The one that has chosen a particular David Bowie [persona or era], because let’s not assume all Bowie fans are a fan of every Bowie. It was really interesting because of that—to be able to see all these people grab a little bit of David from this epoch, a little bit from that. So I’m really excited over the fact that not only are we talking about David and his past, but we’re also able to come all the way up to now. Let’s make the fans the stars for a minute.”
Along with Alomar, other convention guests who had worked with the singer will include Tony Visconti, Kevin Armstrong, Ava Cherry, George Murray, Mark Plati, Robin Clark, Carmine Rojas and Keanan Duffty. There will be discussions about aspects of Bowie’s music and career, exhibitions, and a marketplace as well as a BowieBall featuring musical performances. “I don’t have any expectations other than it’s gonna be fabulous,” Alomar says. “It’s gonna be great. Everybody will find all the questions pretty provocative. Having one moderator for all the different panels lends itself to a discussion that’s gonna be pretty broad. It’s like an immersive David environment.”
Alomar’s association with Bowie began sometime around 1974 when the two of them were working on recording sessions for the British singer Lulu. At the time, Bowie had put his Ziggy Stardust glam-rock persona to bed. “One of the first things I said to David is, ‘You look like s**t, man,’” Alomar recalls of their first meeting. “’You need to eat something.’ You gotta remember I got an Afro, I’m coming from Harlem, I’m the Apollo-Theater-kind-of-guy. I probably had a dashiki at one time or another. And here’s David coming out of Ziggy with his pale white skin, 98 pounds and red hair. This is The Odd Couple version 2.0. So it wasn’t really the actual Lulu sessions that brought us together. That was an issue of the excellence of our performance. He knew what the song was, and yet he has this guitar player that soulfully maneuvered around it and he was extremely interesting.