Adrian Belew has worked with some of the biggest names in the music business, but he’s never forgotten the advice given to him by his first mentor – Frank Zappa.
Belew was 27 when he was discovered by Zappa while playing at Fanny’s Bar in Nashville. A year later, he was in Zappa’s band. Belew says Zappa offered him a very important piece of advice, “whatever you do in music put it back into yourself.”
This encouraged Belew to set up his own recording studio from which he has released over 20 albums. When he is not writing and recording music he has been on the road. After touring with Zappa he spent a year with David Bowie, who was by then a superstar. Belew got to tour on the biggest stages in the world and again learn from a musical genius. He describes Bowie as “self-effacing with a great sense of humor and a strong curiosity in many things.”
After Bowie, Belew toured with David Byrne and Talking Heads before beginning a multi-decade collaboration with Robert Fripp and King Crimson. Along the way he was a much in demand studio musician performing on many notable albums including Paul Simon’s “Graceland.”
Throughout, Belew has continued to follow his mentor’s advice and put his musical successes back into himself. He has a highly individual style of playing guitar. He is self taught and knows how to create sounds usually manufactured by recording engineers. He is noted for his replications of animal, insect and mechanical sounds. One of his latest projects is an app he developed called Flux, which was six years in the making. Flux never plays the same music twice but takes samples from Belew’s recordings and loops them within loops. He says it “fits with the way people live.”
One accomplishment that Belew is especially proud of is his Oscar for the the Pixar short animation “Piper.” He says he is a “huge fan of animation, a huge fan of Pixar and a huge fan of birds.” It took three big pushes to get the right score and that came as a result of decisions between him and the film’s director. He says working with an orchestra at Skywalker Ranch was a priceless experience.
Belew is touring to promote his latest recording “POP_SIDED.” He developed the songs in his studio on piano and guitar and then found words to match the melodies. Joining Balew for his Atlanta show will be Jordan Perlson on drums, Saul Zonanan on keyboards, guitar and vocals and bassist extraordinaire Julie Slick. The band will play songs from the new album as well as classics from King Crimson and other Belew signature works.
Belew and his band will be at City Winery on March 16 starting at 8 p.m. Tickets are available at this link.