Ricky Gardiner, a legendary guitarist widely celebrated for his work with Iggy Pop and David Bowie, respectively, has died at the age of 73.
Bowie producer Tony Visconti shared the news in a Facebook post today, having learned of it via Gardiner’s wife Virginia. “Another guitar genius and personal friend passed into the next world last night,” Visconti wrote. In a separate post on Twitter, Iggy Pop wrote, “Dearest Ricky, lovely, lovely man, shirtless in your coveralls, nicest guy who ever played guitar. Thanks for the memories and the songs, rest eternal in peace.” Gardiner was 73.
Gardiner, who also formed the progressive rock band Beggars Opera in 1969, played guitar on Bowie’s 1977 album Low, which was co-produced by Visconti.
Gardiner is perhaps most admired for Iggy Pop’s “The Passenger,” which he co-wrote alongside the rock icon on 1977’s Lust For Life. “The Passenger” is instantly recognizable thanks to its taut, clipped guitar riffs, loping beat, and vivid lyric pertaining to Iggy’s frequent nocturnal rides in David Bowie’s car around both Europe and North America during the mid-70s.
Though singled out as a classic song on release, it was only initially released as the B-side of Lust For Life’s only single, “Success,” though it was released as a single in its own right in March 1998, reaching number 22 in the UK Charts.
Ricky first met Iggy while recording Low at the Château d’Hérouville in France, and then became a member of his live band in support of Pop’s debut album, The Idiot.
After Bowie and Iggy moved on from Berlin, Gardiner founded his own studio and continued on as a solo musician, eventually branching out into the realms of ambient, classical, and experimental computer music.
His solo albums included 1985’s The Flood and 1987’s Precious Life. In the mid-1990s he developed electromagnetic hypersensitivity, a conditioned he believed he contracted through exposure to high levels of computer radiation and magnetic fields, which limited his ability to record in a modern studio environment. But he continued writing and recording in some capacity. according to NME he released an album called Songs For The Electric as recently as 2015.