Michael Stipe, who will stage a rare solo performance on March 31st and April 1st as part of the Music of David Bowie memorial concerts, made an even rarer late-night appearance Tuesday on The Tonight Show to preview what the former R.E.M. singer has planned for the tribute. Accompanied only by a pianist, Stipe delivered a sparse, gripping rendition of the singer’s 1970 track “The Man Who Sold the World.”
The March 31st event at Carnegie Hall was announced just hours before Bowie’s death was revealed on January 10th. The Roots, Cyndi Lauper, the Mountain Goats, Heart’s Ann Wilson, Perry Farrell and Jakob Dylan were among the initial wave of artists announced for the concert, with all proceeds from the show benefitting Young Audiences New York, Little Kids Rock, Church Street School of Music, the Center for Arts Education, the American Symphony Orchestra and Grammy in the Schools.
Following Bowie’s death, the event added numerous artists, including Stipe, Pixies, Cat Power, Mumford & Sons, the Flaming Lips and Blondie, with demand for tickets so great that an extra Music of David Bowie concert was added for April 1st at Radio City Music Hall. Stipe will perform at both the Carnegie Hall and Radio City Music Hall gigs, which will be live-streamed at MusicOfDavidBowie.com in exchange for a donation to their charity partners.
“The unexpected death of David Bowie has made this tribute to him into a memorial concert,” organizers wrote on the concert’s official site. “While the series has had the surprise appearances and performances of the honoree several times in the past, this one will certainly become a poignant honor of his music by his friends, peers, and fans. We are all deeply saddened at this news, the timing of our public on-sale bizarre in its timing, and the show is taking on many more emotions. RIP David and may gods love be with you.”
Stipe’s “The Man Who Sold the World” performance comes a week after host Jimmy Fallon joined Coldplay’s Chris Martin to take on Bowie’s “Life on Mars?”