Happy Birthday to Gail Ann Dorsey – born November 20, 1962!
Gail Ann Dorsey is an American musician. With a long career as a session musician, she is perhaps best known for her lengthy residency in David Bowie’s band, from 1995 to Bowie’s death in 2016. Aside from playing bass, she occasionally sang lead vocals on “Under Pressure” and dueted with Bowie on other songs, including “The London Boys”, “Aladdin Sane (1913-1938-197?)”, “I Dig Everything”, accompanying Bowie on clarinet, and a cover of Laurie Anderson’s “O Superman”.
From 1993 to 1996, Dorsey recorded and toured with Tears for Fears, and collaborated on songwriting with the band. She appeared in several of the band’s promo videos throughout this period. Her diverse range of work includes performances and/or recordings with, among others, Lenny Kravitz, Bryan Ferry, Boy George, the Indigo Girls, Khaled, Jane Siberry, The The, Skin, Gwen Stefani, Charlie Watts, Seal, Gang of Four, Susan Werner, ani difranco and Dar Williams.
In addition, Dorsey has released three solo albums: The Corporate World (1988), Rude Blue (1992), and I Used To Be… (2003).
Dorsey grew up in the 1970s in West Philadelphia. She played guitar from the age of nine and cites Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad, Terry Kath of Chicago, Jimi Hendrix, and Nancy Wilson of Heart as early influences. She acquired a bass shortly after her 14th birthday but didn’t consider herself a bass player until she was 20. She also wrote feature-length screenplays to accompany some of her musical compositions.
Dorsey attended the California Institute of the Arts in the School of Film & Video. She received a full scholarship with her screenplays and short Super 8 films. Dorsey was the only female in her freshman class and the youngest female to be admitted to the Live Action department up to that point. After completing three semesters she felt unsuited for the film industry and once again turned to a career in music.
At age 22, Dorsey moved to London to pursue her musical career, where she was in a musical collaboration/band 20To with keyboard player/composer Pete Stern. Their first demos were engineered and produced by Paul “Doc” Stewart at Village Way Studio in London. Stewart was responsible for their introduction to CBS Records, which led to her first recording deal. She established herself through collaborations with artists such as Boy George, Ann Pigalle, and Donny Osmond. Dorsey’s first high-profile job was as a guest vocalist in the original line up of The Charlie Watts Big Band and its 1985 premiere at London’s famous West End jazz club, Ronnie Scott’s. A crucial point in Dorsey’s solo career was her appearance on The Tube, a British music television weekly hosted by Jools Holland and Paula Yates.