Kelvingrove Museum organist’s David Bowie tribute is viral hit

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FOOTAGE of an organist’s tribute to David Bowie, captured at Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, has become an online sensation.

Visitors to the Argyle Street gallery heard Chris Nickol play Life On Mars, from Bowie’s 1971 album Hunky Dory, during the venue’s regular lunchtime organ recital on Monday.

Chris Nickol plays Life On Mars at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

Chris Nickol plays Life On Mars at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

The video has so far amassed nearly 2 million views on Facebook.

Nickol, calling the response “overwhelming,” told the BBC: “I heard about the David Bowie story on the eight o’clock news - and it was the lead the story.”

“It was the lead story throughout the day - a big, big event - so I thought it would be appropriate to make a musical acknowledgement of this.

“I’ve known Life on Mars. I’m quite ancient, in my 50s, so I can remember hearing Life on Mars when I was a pop picker in the 1970s.

“I thought that would be a good song to do, it’s very melodic, got some good harmonies, it would work well on the organ - and I thought it would be appropriate to play it as it was very much topical yesterday - and a great piece of music.”

Nickol, who had planned to play the song after hearing of Bowie’s death on Monday morning, admitted to being nervous about playing one of the English songwriter’s best known hits.

“There was quite a lot of strong applause and I was told afterwards by the Kelvingrove staff that people had reacted emotionally, which is very gratifying - a tribute to Bowie’s wonderful song writing. It’s a great, great song, one of many.”

The performance was filmed by artist Gordon Wilson, and he described the scene to the BBC as Nickol began playing the song.

He said: “It was one of those moments when the hairs on the back of the head just pricked up. So I just picked up my camera and I was in the right place at the right time.”

“It was the strangest thing. People literally started coming out of the little corridors and all the galleries. People just suddenly appeared.

“In the main concourse, people just stopped. You could still hear kids running around - but people were just in rapture.

“It was so amazing. I’ve never heard Bowie like that before. The man just played a blinder. I was welling up and I could see people beside me welling up - and it was just crazy.”