While the longstanding fascination surrounding David Bowie has continued to rise since the late singer’s passing in 2016, it has been outshone, however, by the rising stock of Keanu Reeves—not that either of the two creatives would have entertained the idea competition. Partly, it has to be said, because they were known to be close friends following the two stars hurtling trajectories crossing paths in the nineties.
Reeves’ upward rise has been due, in no small part, to him being a bloody nice bloke, a factor which in our current climate, feels like a truly, dog-loving, gun-shooting, appropriately behaving, kind-hearted and welcomed reprieve.
The actor hit the big time in the early ’90s, having worked prolifically since the early ’80s, and decided while he doing said hitting that he should also engage with another passion; music. Reeves started a rock band named Dogstar and his notoriety alongside some musical chops saw the band open for some incredible acts—it also saw the group play at some major music festivals. On reflection, Reeves still looks back fondly at the time but admits he wishes his band was “better than it was”.
The actor’s Hollywood pull and star power did allow the band to meet and make friends with a lot of inspirational musical icons, however. The band would open for Bon Jovi for some shows on their These Days – Crossroads, and even had Weezer once open for them on one somewhat bizarre occasion. However, the real stamp of approval arrived when Dogstar were offered the opportunity to play the opening set for David Bowie’s 1995 U.S. tour stop at The Hollywood Palladium.
So while it may be easy to write off Dogstar as Keanu’s egocentric side project, there was clearly a grain of truth and talent to the band’s pearl. After all, the great David Bowie liked them. A famously appreciative musician, Bowie was never shy to endorse bands, famously claiming DEVO were “the future of music”, and he undoubtedly saw Dogstar’s potential if Reeves’ career in acting hadn’t of skyrocketed to international fame.
That said, It was likely that an addition of another common interest is what bonded the pair and acting was always a massive fascination of Bowie’s. The star was known to pursue as many performing arts as possible, with acting roles in The Man Who Fell To Earth, Twin Peaks, and a beautifully retro and pre-fame clip of Bowie in an ice cream advertisement.
Many have supposed that Bowie may have seen Reeves as a bit of a protege having shared so many values across both acting and music. On the tour in 1995, the pair were at interesting moments in their careers, Bowie was an icon at a slight lull in the charts but touring his 1995 Outside album he showed appreciation to the artists of the day, including a few shows with Morrissey opening for the band, while Nine Inch Nails took on some U.S. shows. He was clearly finding peace personally.
It’s not that big a jump to conclude that Bowie felt the same way about Keanu and his band, he saw them and Reeves as important for the future. Bowie may have been settling himself, conversely, Reeves was at his creative peak. Known in Hollywood not only as a leading man but an artistically driven actor, not afraid to take on risky roles and show his vulnerability. He was sewing the seeds of his rightly deserved notoriety.
So we might now see Reeves as a ‘nice man’ a figure of how one should behave, with respect and kindness, but really, we should be looking at him the way Bowie did. As a true artist.