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A Guitarist Remembers: David Bowie Just Wanted A Good Laugh

David Bowie performing with Tin Machine guitarist Reeves Gabrels in 1991.
David Bowie performing with Tin Machine guitarist Reeves Gabrels in 1991.

For more than a decade, Reeves Gabrels was David Bowie's go-to guitarist, playing in the rock band Tin Machine and crafting '90s Bowie on albums like Outside, Earthling and 'hours...' The world is mourning the visionary chameleon, who died Sunday at 69, but Gabrels also wants to remember Bowie's sense of humor.

"The picture I have in my head is of him cracking up in the studio," Gabrels says. "Because we just used to be able to make each other laugh."

Gabrels tells NPR's Ari Shapiro that, at a young age, he was drawn to Bowie's sense of pure adventure, which is maybe how he later ended up sawing a water cooler in half to make a cool vocal effect that never worked.

"We rode on tour buses together," Gabrels says. "We shared apartments together. We borrowed socks from each other."

What kind of socks did the visual icon wear? "The gold-tipped, sheer black socks."

Yes, the same kind you find in 10-for-$10 bags. Funny man, that Bowie.

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