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“Ziggy Stardust was the first song I ever performed”: Perry Farrell on his pre-fame days as a David Bowie impersonator

The Jane’s Addiction went on to become friends with Bowie, despite the fact he annoyed him by accidentally giving away his contact details. Twice.



As the frontman of Psi Com, Jane’s Addiction, Porno For Pyros, Satellite Party and more, Perry Farrell has been one of the great entertainers in rock music for four decades, which makes it all the more annoying that the only thing that could make his CV even better is the thing he did before he was famous: working as a David Bowie tribute act.

“Before my first band, Psi Com, I was a David Bowie impersonator,” Farrell once told Classic Rock. “Ziggy Stardust was the first song I ever performed in front of people.”

Farrell revealed that he got to meet and befriend Bowie but kept getting himself into japes that endangered their blossoming bromance. “I kept fucking up and I would leak his address and his phone number out. I would do stupid shit like I would lose my phone in the back of the limo that was taking me to the airport, and the next thing he knew he was getting a text and it wasn’t from me,” the Jane’s Addiction man said. Farrell thought he would have a chance to make it up to him but was denied the chance. “Tony Visconti was putting on a tribute show in New York City and asked me to perform. I thought we’d be able to hang out and it would all be water under the bridge, but then he passed away two weeks before. He was one of my heroes.”

Appearing on Howard Stern’s radio show last year, Farrell went into further detail about the time when he left his phone in the cab. “The cab driver took it, and went through it, and saw David Bowie’s name, so he called him up: ‘Yo, David, it’s me!’ The guy kept calling him, and I had to finally say, ‘Listen man, it wasn’t me, I’m really sorry that this guy is bothering you, I left my phone in the cab.’ So he forgave me, right?”

On another occasion, Farrell said he accidentally cc’d Bowie on an email with 300 other people on it. “These people reached out to me to see if I would help them save this lake, and I got really excited about it, and I got all altruistic, like I’m gonna help the world here, and I thought, ‘I’m gonna see if David wants to do this too!’” he explained.

“So I sent him this thing and said, ‘David, you’ve gotta help me save the fish in Ontario!’… but what I didn’t realise was that there was 300 people on the chain.” So again, all these people started hitting him up, and again, he was like, ‘Perry, what are you doing?’ I said, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing, I’m sorry!'”

There you have it: Perry Farrell: great frontman, terrible emailer, and, we’re guessing, a pretty good David Bowie impersonator.