As we approach the anniversary of his death, I remember my time spent with him.

David Bowie, musician, composer, actor and personality has left us a legacy of such a remarkable compositions and an eclectic array of his stage characters.

I was the sound recordist on the Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence in 1982 and was confronted with working with David the legend for quite a few weeks in the Cook Islands and then at several locations in Auckland.

The director Nagisa Oshima San had cleverly cast David against Ryuichi Sakamoto so on set we had famous rock stars from the East and the West.

David was not a skilled actor but just right for his role, always keen to suggest ideas and anxious to please Oshima San, a director with a very stern nature.


David free from paparazzi was totally at ease in Rarotonga, would offer you a drink from the bar, and we were both South-East Londoners - he was from Brixton and knew the roller-skating rink that I regularly went to as a teenager.

Musically he admitted two interesting things to me.

One, he hated touring and two he loved recording in East Germany as he would take
African American session musicians there who would play as hard as they could in order to get out of the strange country and return home.

Usually, when a director requires additional voice recordings, a session is set up and the director is there to direct the actor and verify the performance.

Oshima San regarded me as an equal, much to my surprise, and on several occasions I was advised to record Mr Bowie, which found me going on my own to the White Heron hotel in Auckland and sitting with David while I recorded and directed the session.

These are very fond but distant memories now, and seem unreal in the same way that David's departure seems so hard to believe.

- Mike Westgate is a production sound mixer in Auckland