TRIBUTE - ‘A Night of Bowie’ runs March 28th at the Memorial Centre, featuring Victoria-based musician Syl Thompson and his band Ground Control. photo submitted

‘A Night Of Bowie’ in Red Deer celebrates David Bowie’s memorable hits

Musician Syl Thompson discusses what it takes to play Bowie

Since the early 80’s, Victoria-based musician Syl Thompson and his band Ground Control have been paying tribute to David Bowie’s music with respect and pride.

“It’s a real pleasure being up on stage playing his music,” said Thompson in a recent interview.

The band performs March 28th at the Memorial Centre – showtime is 7:30pm.

The tribute performances came about when Thompson was approached by a club manager who told him he looked and moved like Bowie.

In a Top 40 band at the time, Thompson was playing the club circuit in Vancouver in a band called Innocent Bystander.

He and his group later decided to give the whole Bowie tribute gig a try, with Thompson dressing up as Bowie and playing some of his songs.

The crowds loved it, so a new group was formed and they went off to tour the United States and across Canada.

The group performs everything from Space Oddity up to The Next Day album, performing many of Bowie’s hits.

“We don’t do anything off the new album just yet,” he said.

In trying to capture Bowie, it first comes down to the voice.

“There’s only one David Bowie, but with my vocal technique I was able to capture it to a certain degree. I can sound quite similar to him and I do have a similar look.”

He added that the vocal part of it all is the main thing. “If you can’t pull that off, nothing else is going to matter.”

The second part is the look. And the particular look is a take off from A Reality Tour. Throughout his career, Bowie had been quite the chameleon, having had many different looks.

“Obviously I wasn’t going to be able to do something like Aladdin Sane or Ziggy Stardust, I’m not that young,” he said with a laugh.

For Thompson, he enjoys Bowie’s arrangements.

“He was a very angular writer, meaning that his core progressions in some of his tunes are quite different compared to a lot of what a normal progression would be. His arrangements are quite unique.”

He said it’s a bit of a challenge playing his music as he did odd things musically speaking, but it keeps Thompson on his toes.

Thompson currently resides in Victoria, B.C.

Tickets for A Night Of Bowie are available at the Black Knight Inn Ticket Centre by phone at 403-755-6626 or online at

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