Reflections by the two musicians appear in Rolling Stone’s upcoming Bowie tribute issue.
Jagger, a longtime friend of Bowie’s, recalled the pair’s open approach to sharing music and exchanging creative ideas with one another.
“He would come around my house and play me all his music,” said the Rolling Stones frontman. “I remember him playing me different mixes of “Jean Genie,” which was really kind of Stones-y, in a way. That’s what I enjoyed: watching him develop as an artist… I didn’t mind sharing things with him, because he would share so much with me — it was a two-way street.”
He declared the hit 1983 single “Let’s Dance” as his favorite Bowie track, remembering how strongly New York City’s dance club scene influenced the duo at the time of its release.
“He had a chameleon-like ability to take on any genre, always with a unique take, musically and lyrically,” he said.
Jagger’s favorite Bowie memory, he revealed, was the musicians’ collaboration “Dancing in the Street” — he recalled that they had recorded the single and shot its video in a single day.
Bowie and Jagger lost touch around 2004, when Bowie stopped touring due to health issues.
“It’s really sad when somebody leaves and you haven’t spoken to them for a long while. You wish you’d done this; you wish you’d done that. But that’s what happens. Strange things happen in life,” Jagger concluded.
“His music really helped me relate to myself and figure out who I was. He was a tremendous inspiration in terms of what was possible, what the role of an entertainer could be, that there are no rules,” said Reznor, who struggled with alcohol and drug issues for a portion of their relationship.
Reznor said Bowie’s influence was helpful in his quest to beat his addictions.
“There were a number of times where the two of us were alone, and he said some things that weren’t scolding, but pieces of wisdom that stuck with me: ‘You know, there is a better way here, and it doesn’t have to end in despair or in death, in the bottom.'”
When Bowie reached out to propose that the two musicians collaborate for a joint tour, Reznor became acquainted with his musical idol firsthand.
“Wow. I’m witnessing firsthand the fearlessness that I’ve read about,” he remembered thinking after an early rehearsal for the “Outsiders” tour. “I was outside of myself, thinking, ‘I’m standing onstage next to the most important influence I’ve ever had, and he’s singing a song I wrote in my bedroom.'”
Reznor concluded with: “It feels like the loss of a mentor, fatherly figure, someone looking out for you, reminding you that in a world where the bar keeps seeming to be lower, where stupidity has got a foothold, there is room for excellence and uncompromising vision.”
Bowie passed away Jan. 10 following an 18-month battle with cancer. In the weeks following his death, the demand for his music dramatically surged. The day after Bowie’s passing, the music icon’s loyal fan base viewed his music videos over 51 million times, breaking a Vevo record for the number of daily video views for a single artist. The sales of “Blackstar,” his latest album, also spiked a shocking 1055% following the announcement of the singer’s death.