Ricky Gardiner, former guitarist for David Bowie and Iggy Pop, dead at 73

Ricky Gardiner, who played guitar with David Bowie and Iggy Pop, has died at age 73. No cause of death has been given, but Gardiner had been suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. The sad news was shared by Iggy Pop, who wrote, “Dearest Ricky, lovely, lovely man, shirtless in your coveralls, nicest guy who ever played guitar. Thanks for the memories and the songs, rest eternal in peace.” Producer Tony Visconti, meanwhile, wrote on Facebook, “Another guitar genius and personal friend passed into the next world last night.”

Born in 1948 in Edinburgh, Scotland, Gardiner was in a number of bands in the ’60s before founding Beggars Opera in 1969, a group he led through much of the 1970s. In 1977, Gardiner played guitar on both David Bowie’s Low and Iggy Pop’s Lust for Life (which Bowie produced), the latter of which he co-wrote a number of songs on, including iconic single “The Passenger.” He continued to make music up until his death, including a number of instrumental albums.

Rest in peace, Ricky.



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Ricky Gardiner, the musician best known for playing with David Bowie and Iggy Pop, has died. The 73-year-old “guitar genius” “ended a long battle with Parkinson’s,” producer Tony Visconti wrote on Facebook after being informed by Gardiner’s widow Virginia Scott. Iggy Pop wrote a touching tribute to his friend on Twitter upon hearing of his death. “Dearest Ricky, lovely, lovely man, shirtless in your coveralls, nicest guy who ever played guitar. Thanks for the memories and the songs, rest eternal in peace.” Gardiner was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1948 and became a self-taught musician from a young age. He joined his first major rock band, Beggars Opera, in 1969 and recorded six albums with the band, which became a cult favorite across Europe. The rising musician was then invited to play on Tony Visconti’s solo album “Inventory,” which led to his introduction to Bowie. Visconti co-produced Bowie’s “Low” album and brought Gardiner to play lead guitar on the first half of the iconic album. Working with Bowie, Gardiner was connected with Iggy Pop. As he struggled with sobriety, Bowie went on tour with Iggy Pop for his album “The Idiot” and brought Gardiner with him. The trio continued to collaborate as Gardiner played guitar and drums and contributed songwriting on the Bowie-produced Iggy Pop 1977 album “Lust for Life.” Gardiner is credited with creating the three-note riff for “The Passenger,” which was described as “one of the greatest riffs of all time,” by Bowie’s biographer David Buckley. Despite his success, Gardiner stopped touring when he married Virginia Scott and began to start a family. He set up his own private studio and recorded meditation music and songs with his wife and children. Recording music became increasingly difficult for the famed guitarist when he was diagnosed with electrosensitivity in 1998. The rare health condition made him sick when he was in close proximity to electronic devices. Gardiner was able to readjust his personal studio and continued to create music recording his own versions of “The Passenger,” and returning to his Beggars Opera work. His last work came in 2015 with his solo album “Songs For The Electric.” In recent years, Gardiner became increasingly ill after being diagnosed with a very rare form of Parkinson’s known as PSP. Over the last four years, he “suffered horribly in his last years” and “lost mobility, speech and required 24-hour care” but remained “stoic, strong and determined right till the end,” his daughter Annie, who is also a songwriter, shared on Twitter. He died May 13 in his home surrounded by family. “He was the best dad anyone could ask for. He taught me everything from using power tools, to a recording studio both analog and digital, to changing an air filter on a car engine (though I was awful at that), to playing bass guitar, musical improvisation, songwriting and production methods,” Annie wrote. “He was kind, generous, thoughtful, insightful, patient, enthusiastic, a rebel, did not suffer fools, didn’t give a s – – t what people thought, loved a good chat, and loved his food!”


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