AXS TV celebrates the lives and legacies of some of the most notable music icons who left too soon, with the all-new special The Big Interview – Special Edition: Legends Lost, premiering on Tuesday, June 7th at 8 pm ET/5 pm PT. The hour-long event is hosted by acclaimed newsman Dan Rather, and is divided into five distinct segments, each one devoted to a different artist.
Featured in this unforgettable evening are heartfelt tributes to genre-defying rocker Prince; R&B royalty Natalie Cole; glam rock pioneer David Bowie; country music mainstay Merle Haggard; and blues virtuoso B.B. King. Using archived footage and exclusive interviews, The Big Interview – Special Edition: Legends Lost gives viewers a deeply personal look at these artists’ lives, as their friends, family, and collaborators come together to honor their memory and discuss their careers’ most pivotal moments. Some of the program’s many highlights include Rather’s final interview with Merle Haggard, followed by an emotional performance of Haggard’s hit “Sing Me Back Home”; as well as a rare television appearance by André Cymone, Prince’s best friend and original bassist, who sheds some light on a side of the musical innovator’s personal life that many people never got to see, and talks about working with Prince on his debut album and tour.
Other highlights include a chat with David Bowie’s childhood friend, painter George Underwood, who designed several album covers for the superstar. Years earlier, Underwood left a lasting impact on the artist, when a fight between the two left the singer with his unique eyes—something Bowie would ultimately come to thank him for. Underwood explains the scuffle, saying, “I overheard David bragging about how he was going out with this girl [I was going out with]. Complete fabrication, of course… I told this story to a friend of mine, and he said, ‘Oh, blimey, if it was me, I’d go and stick one on him.’ That wasn’t really my style at all, but I think I had to prove something… I walked over to David, and I basically took him by the shoulder and just hit him. I didn’t mean to hurt him. It didn’t actually change the color of his eye, what happened was his pupil wouldn’t dilate in and out anymore. I had a good cry, and I told his dad how sorry I was… his mother was always a bit more bitter about it.”
Long-time B.B. King drummer T.C. Coleman opens up about the fateful events that forged a lifelong bond between King and his Gibson guitar, after narrowly escaping a deadly fire at a juke joint caused by two men who were fighting over a woman named Lucille. Coleman explains, “He said, ‘I think I’ll name my guitar Lucille, to remember me never to do somethin’ that stupid again.’ That’s what he would say… And they were a team. That was his girl… Lucille was everything to B.B….You can’t think of B.B. King without Lucille… Imagine if the guitar would’ve got burned up. He would’ve went on down the highway, got another guitar, and just been B.B. King. But, he was B.B. King with Lucille…That’s pretty cool.”
And acclaimed producer David Foster joins Rather to discuss the birth of Natalie Cole’s 1991 album Unforgettable… With Love—a collection of standards made famous by her father, Nat King Cole, who passed away in 1965. On the challenge of pairing the two artists’ vocals together on the moving duet of King’s signature hit “Unforgettable,” Foster recalls, “There was a lot of leakage with [the orchestra]… so the vocal wasn’t just separated… The really tough part was how could I get him to answer her… as though he was singing over her shoulder. I figured out a way to do it late one night… When I played that for her, she cried, ’cause that was a moment where I’m sure she felt like her father was right there with her… The moment that I put those two voices together… I knew that this was incredibly special for the world.”
“This year, alone, the world has already lost so many influential musicians who have left an indelible mark not only on music, but on humanity,” said Michele M. Dix, AXS TV’s senior vice president, programming and development. “With this new special, AXS TV is honored to pay tribute to the legacies of these artists, giving viewers a rare glimpse at their creative process behind some of their most enduring songs.”