Ska: The Hackney Colliery Band
Brass tribute: The Hackney Colliery Band

A ska version of David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’, performed by brass ensemble the Hackney Colliery Band, has been released as a tribute to the music icon, who died on Sunday aged 69.

The upbeat recording is free to download, with the band encouraging donations to Cancer Research UK or Macmillan Cancer Support in lieu of payment.

The band were already planning to release the recording this week to coincide with that of Blackstar, Bowie’s 29th and final album, which came out last Friday.

Trumpet player Steve Pretty admits he was initially worried about releasing an upbeat rendition of ‘Heroes’ at a time of grief, but says the reaction so far has been overwhelmingly positive.

“I was a little worried it would feel inappropriate, but people have been saying that it’s cheered them up, people who are real Bowie fans. I think if it was morose it wouldn’t add much. It’s more a celebration than a commemoration I suppose.”

For Pretty, the most inspirational thing about David Bowie was his “creative restlessness”.

“I was sad to hear of his death but he didn’t define my youth,” he said.

“At the same time the thing I really admire about him as a creative force is that restlessness and the fact he was able to be so incredibly popular but at the same time do things on his own terms.

“That restless energy and lack of cynicism is really refreshing. Being able to keep control in an industry that is not always a nice place to operate, to stay popular, relevant and by all accounts a nice guy, is an amazing achievement.”

As part of a nationwide outpouring of grief, East London residents have been finding ways to pay tribute to the man who gave us Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane and the Thin White Duke.

Newly-opened bar Machine No 3 on Well Street is hosting a David Bowie Tribute Party tomorrow evening, with prizes for the best costume, face-paint and t-shirts, while pupils at Queensbridge primary school in Haggerston sang a rousing rendition of ‘Starman’ at a memorial assembly yesterday.

Download ‘Heroes’ here:

Machine No 3 tribute bash:

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