"It was fun being friends with him. He was like a wizard": when you're David Bowie's favourite band, life gets kinda magical

David Bowie
(Image credit: Patrick Riviere/Getty Images)


It's late in the evening on Sunday, June 25, 2000 and David Bowie is on Glastonbury festival's iconic Pyramid Stage, performing a greatest hits headline set which will bring the world's largest music weekender to an euphoric conclusion. But there is a problem. Someone has spotted bubbles being blown across the stage from the wings, and has identified 25-year-old Zia McCabe, keyboardist with Portland alt. rockers The Dandy Warhols, as the source of these soapy spherical interlopers. McCabe is told in no uncertain terms to cease and desist her childish behaviour, and suitably chastised, she puts the offending article out of sight. 

Five minutes later, the same individual who had "launched into a flaming bitch-fest" at McCabe, to borrow a phrase from her friend and bandmate Courtney Taylor-Taylor, came running back over to where The Dandy Warhols were standing side-stage, screaming frantically once more.


And so began a beautiful and rather unlikely friendship between the iconic English pop chameleon and the Portland group he would later describe as his favourite band of the time.

“We toured extensively with him and it was fun being friends with him,” Courtney Taylor-Taylor recently told NME. “He was like a wizard, but was reluctant to give advice. When we found out we were David Bowie’s favourite band, it was like god came down to me and said: ‘Courtney, I meant to tell you, you were right the whole time. All that shit you went through in high school – they were wrong and you were right’.”

Talking about one of the favours Bowie did for his band, Taylor-Taylor added, “Whenever David was in New York, he would come to our shows and he and Philip Glass owned a studio in Midtown that he’d let us use for free – that’s where we did our fourth album Welcome to the Monkey House, and we worked together with him on that. Above the telephone line, if you pulled one of Philip Glass’ platinum records to one side, the number of the Beastie Boys' pot dealer was there – David caught us calling him one day and thought that was so cool.”

“Bowie was also great at pool,“ The Dandy Warhols' frontman recalls as a side-note. “I remember him once walking into a bar with me and my friends, racking up the balls. He ran the pool table while we stood with our mouths agape!”

It's possible that some of Bowie's magic rubbed off on his new pals. fow, while The Dandy Warhols' self-titled third album stalled at number 93 on the UK album charts before sliding off the charts completely, Welcome to the Monkey House, entered at number 20, and contained two Top 30 UK singles in We Used To Be Friends and You Were The Last High.

The Dandy Warhols' new album, Rockmaker, is out now, and features guest spots from Frank Black, Debbie Harry and Slash

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.