David Bowie’s ‘Lazarus’ musical nearly featured fake Bob Dylan songs

Revelation comes from author Michael Cunningham

David Bowie‘s Lazarus musical nearly included mariachi bands and aliens discovering a trove of fake unreleased Bob Dylan songs, according to a writer that the late star worked with on an early draft of the project.

The Lazarus stage show has ran in New York and London and is based on Bowie’s 1976 film The Man Who Fell To Earth, which saw the musician playing the character of an alcoholic alien called Thomas Newton. The show, co-written with Irish playwright Enda Walsh and directed by Belgian director Ivo van Hove, stars Dexter and Six Feet Under actor Michael C Hall.

Author Michael Cunningham writes in a new GQ article that Bowie had been in touch with him about working together on a musical and was “intrigued by the idea of an alien marooned on Earth. He’d never been entirely satisfied with the alien he’d played in the 1976 film The Man Who Fell to Earth. He acknowledged that he’d like at least one of the major characters to be an alien”.

Bowie “imagined the musical taking place in the future. The plot would revolve around a stockpile of unknown, unrecorded Bob Dylan songs, which had been discovered after Dylan died. David himself would write the hitherto-unknown songs.”

He also stated that he would “be pleased if mariachi music could be incorporated, mariachi music being under-appreciated outside Mexico” and “was excited to start a new project because: ‘Now I get to do one of my favorite things. Go to a stationery store and get Sharpies and Post-its!'”.

The project never came to be and eventually became the 2015 musical Lazarus. Cunningham says of learning of news of Bowie’s eventual finished work: “Seeing the poster, realising that David had gone ahead with another writer, was a little like running into a lover from the deep past, on the arm of his new lover, and finding that you ceased to miss him so long ago that you felt nothing but happiness for him.”


Bob Dylan

Meanwhile, to mark what would have been Bowie’s 70th birthday, a new EP of music has been released along with a video for ‘No Plan’.

As well as the single ‘Lazarus’, the EP also features tracks recorded for the acclaimed musical of the same name – backed by the bittersweet melancholy of ‘No Plan’, the dark and menacing jazz-tinged scorched rock of ‘Killing A Little Time’ akin to his material from ‘Outside’ and the ambient acid rock of ‘When I Met You’.

The weekend saw the television debut of the BBC’s new documentary ‘David Bowie: The Last Five Years‘, which recalled the final days and last few albums of the late icon, and a special tribute concert at Brixton Academy, featuring friend and actor Gary Oldman along with over 30 musicians that collaborated with Bowie throughout his career.