Beck and the surviving members of Nirvana – drummer Dave Grohl, bassist Krist Novoselic and guitarist Pat Smear – formed a one-off supergroup Sunday night to pay tribute to David Bowie at Clive Davis’ annual pre-Grammy party. With Beck on acoustic guitar and vocals, the surprise tandem were backed by a string section to perform Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold the World,” a song that Nirvana introduced to a new generation thanks to their rendition on MTV Unplugged.
Beck, last year’s Album of the Year Grammy winner for Morning Phase, recently spoke to Rolling Stone about Bowie’s influence on him. “David Bowie started making records around the beginning of my life, and his career kind of tracks with my life,” Beck said. “There’s always been a David Bowie record. He’s always been doing something. He’s always been kind of guidepost or gravitational force for me. He’s someone that you set course to or measure what you’re doing against.”
Beck had frequently covered Bowie throughout his career, from his rendition of “Diamond Dogs” on the Moulin Rouge soundtrack to his reimagining of “Sound and Vision” to his take on “Let’s Dance” during the Midnite Vultures tour. Beck had also performed Bowie’s “Win” and “Fame.”
The members of Nirvana previously reunited during the festivities surrounding the band’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April 2014. Grohl, Smear and Novoselic also teamed with Paul McCartney in 2012 for their Sound City standout “Cut Me Some Slack.”
The Beck-fronted Nirvana weren’t the only act at Clive Davis’ bash to pay tribute to Bowie: Bleachers’ Jack Antonoff teamed with Adam Lambert for a cover of “Let’s Dance.” Lady Gaga will perform the Grammys’ Bowie tribute Monday night.