In the summer of 1999, Rustic Overtones were in New York City. The band from Maine had been signed to Arista Records by Clive Davis and were in town to record their first album for the label. Producing the album was Tony Visconti, known for his work with T. Rex, The Moody Blues, Thin Lizzy, and most notably, David Bowie. They ended up spending six weeks recording, two of which were at Avatar Studios in New York.
On one of those average mornings in New York, the band’s baritone saxophonist Jason Ward got into the studio early, looking to get a jump start on warming up. Visconti was already there, having a conversation with an engineer and someone Ward didn’t immediately recognize.
It ended up being David Bowie.
“He (Bowie) just happened to visit Tony Visconti one day at Avatar,” Ward said when we reached out to him the day after Bowie’s death. “He was curious of what he was working on because Visconti doesn’t just take on any project. I was one of the first people to encounter him in the studio since I arrived first. Most pleasant shock of my life.”
A life-long fan of Bowie, Ward struggled to keep it together. Bowie lightened the mood by saying that at first glance, he thought Ward was Frank Black of Pixies.