Ex-Eurythmic Dave Stewart, the Zelig of Pop


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Dave Stewart, considers himself a bit of a technology nut, and credits an Apple Watch with helping him connect the American rocker Grace Potter with Mick Jagger for an onstage performance.

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Jessica Lehrman for The New York Times

We all know Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon: How many steps does it take to connect any famous person to the ubiquitous character actor?

Six Degrees of Dave Stewart, by contrast, would be a pretty tedious game, as the former Eurythmic and mad genius of pop is seemingly a single step removed from boldface names of his generation, including Mick Jagger, Damien Hirst, Bono and Tony Blair.

Clad in head-to-toe black, the musician, music producer, photographer, technology evangelist and rock ’n’ roll Zelig, now 63, sat down at the Crosby Street Hotel in Manhattan last week to talk about his new memoir “Sweet Dreams Are Made of This: A Life in Music,” in which he recounts nearly a half-century in music, doing tequila shots with a sombrero-clad Bob Dylan, downing hallucinogens with Daryl Hall and romping under the covers with Stevie Nicks. Excerpts from the conversation, condensed and edited, are below.

What is it about you that makes you a magnet for superstars like Mick Jagger and Bob Dylan?

Have you read the book “The Tipping Point”? There are certain people that are connectors. I don’t know why, but people are always asking, “Hey Dave, can you fix us up?”

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When the Apple Watch came out, being a technology nut, I had one pretty early on, and all of a sudden a text came through on it from Grace Potter saying: “Oh my God. The Rolling Stones are going to do a tour. It’s my dream to sing on stage with them.”

I figured, I’ll try this watch out, I’ll send Mick a text by speaking: “Hey, Mick. Do you remember Grace Potter? She wants to sing with you on stage.” He comes back, “What song?”

A short while later, I get this video of her onstage singing “Gimme Shelter” with them. The amazing thing was, all of that was from the watch. It was like, “I’m sitting here in the future.”

As music video pioneers on MTV, how important were the matching suits and orange dyed hair to your success?

We were seen as some kind of fashion statement but weren’t making a fashion statement at all. We were very influenced by the art movement, so we got suits by the same tailor that made suits for (the British art duo) Gilbert & George. If you look at the videos we were giving them, ours were based on Buñuel and surreal imagery and me writing out these story lines like, “Dave and Annie in a boardroom, and a cow comes in.” The record company was saying, “What in the hell is this?” But when MTV played it, they had all the phones lighting up.

But you started out in the rock scene of the early ’70s, when you could basically wear a T-shirt and jeans onstage.

You didn’t know what you were wearing because you were probably on LSD and facing the wrong way, which happened to me one time. I thought the crowd was going mad, but it was the roadies waving their arms going, “Wrong way!”

You and Annie Lennox had been a romantic couple but broke up right before finding international fame. How did you cope with the emotional fallout?

When “Sweet Dreams” hit, we hadn’t been a couple for two years. But on the promotional tour, there was still only two of us staying in the same hotel, in the same back seat of the car. There weren’t five of us to bounce off of. So many of the interviewers were asking: “Weren’t you a couple? What happened?” So it was instant group therapy for about three months straight.

What’s the relationship with Annie like now?

We lived together for two years and had 100 children. So anytime anyone wants to do anything with one of our songs, we have to talk to each other and agree for it to be in a film or whatever. So there’s that side. But if she comes around to my house for a martini or dinner with her new husband, we never talk about music or Eurythmics. The general public thinks if Mick and Keith get together, they talk about the old Stones stories. Nah. You talk about things that are happening to your children, you know what I mean?



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