Commencement 1999

Berklee Students Pay Tribute to David Bowie and Wayne Shorter 


David Bowie

Wayne Shorter  

March 26, 1999 — Two musicians whose compositions and performances are central to the modern eras of rock and jazz will receive honorary doctor of music degrees at Berklee College of Music. Wayne Shorter and David Bowie will be honored at Berklee's 1999 commencement, Saturday, May 8, at the Hynes Convention Center, Boston. Bowie will be principal speaker to more than 600 graduates and 3,000 guests. Shorter will also address the graduates.


On commencement eve, at the Berklee Performance Center, students will present a concert tribute to the honorees, performing selections from their award-winning careers. The concert will be broadcast live, on Friday, May 7, at 7:30 p.m. EDT, on the Berklee Web site. Please bookmark this page and return for the live feed on commencement eve.

David Bowie, as a musician, performer and songwriter, has continually reinvented himself and his art at a seemingly breakneck speed. With complete disregard for loyalty to any musical style, he has often combined the most unlikely forms of music with end-of-the-millennium subject matter, as the rock world's first post-modernist star. From his late '60s breakout hit, "Space Oddity," to Ziggy Stardust, to his collaborations with Brian Eno, to his many film roles, to his most recent "Earthling" disc and BowieNet Internet portal, Bowie's vision and body of work have been consistently challenging, prescient and affecting.

Wayne Shorter is one of the most revered instrumentalists and composers in all of modern jazz. He has been central to some of the most important groups led by Art Blakey and Miles Davis, transforming hard-bop with the former, and playing a central role as Davis moved his second great quintet through long, post-bop forms into jazz-rock and electronics. Shorter's own co-founding of Weather Report, with Joe Zawinul '59 H'91, took jazz-rock in a new direction, while securing his place in the pantheon with the group's innovation and worldwide commercial success. Shorter's recent projects, with Herbie Hancock and his own groups, alternately explore inner landscapes and funky, electronic sounds.

Shorter and Bowie will join such Berklee honorary doctorate recipients as Duke Ellington, B.B. King, Patti LaBelle, Sting, James Taylor, Pat Metheny, Dizzy Gillespie, Carly Simon, Billy Joel, Bonnie Raitt, and alumnus Quincy Jones.

Representatives of the media who wish to receive additional information should contact Berklee's Office of Public Information, Sarah Godcher at 617 747-2658, Toni Ballard at 617 747-2247, or Emily Singer at 617 747-2567.


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