Mike Garson’s Incredible Backstory

On April 20, 2024, Mike Garson, David Bowie’s keyboardist and music director will join his grandson’s band SUMMIT along with my voice student CASH HARRINGTON. 

Mike Garson’s biographer Clifford Slapper wrote of him:

“Garson never drank or took drugs, which makes him not only a reliable witness, but one of the only participants in the 1970s rock scene who actually remembers anything. His outlook on life is inspiring, enlightening – and often very funny.”

In 2019 his home burned down in the Woolsey fire. The Los Angeles Daily News reported

“My first response is like I lost everything but I have everything,” Garson says of what the fire wrought. “It sounds like it could be the lyric to a song but it’s true. Thank God I have my family and my wife and my fingers and I can play the music and rebuild and reboot and restore.”

Gone in the flames were all of his studio equipment and three pianos. Hard drives of music, some 200 individual pieces vanished like smoke. Original Beethoven manuscripts. A Purple Heart earned by his wife’s uncle who died in the invasion of Normandy in World War II. Letters he wrote to his wife while serving in the U.S. Army band in the ’60s.

“It’s beyond belief,” Garson says. “The miracle is that four things survived.”

They included a statue of Buddha, untouched by the fire. A mezuzah, the Jewish symbol of faith and home, still intact two feet from where one of his pianos melted. A pair of rocks inscribed with the words “dreams” and “hope.” And a tiny boot he’d worn as a child, bronzed by his parents decades ago.

“I think the Buddha statue stands for maybe a universal love, you realize you gotta keep that,” he says of how he interprets these few items that made it through the inferno. “The little boot was burned, but still intact. That sort of stands for when we get burned in life it’s still there.”

Mike Garson is still here, full of life and talent, and we look forward to being with him and Summit at The Canyon Club on April 20, 2024 at 6:30 PM.