Global success of David Bowie tribute video gives church a major confidence boost

The Rev Roddy Hamilton
The Rev Roddy Hamilton of New Kilpatrick Church Bearsden. Image courtesy of Emma Mitchell Milngavie and Bearsden Herald.

The sensational popularity of a video featuring a church organist's tribute to David Bowie has been viewed nearly three million times and increased interest In his home congregation.

The Rev Roddy Hamilton of New Kilpatrick Church in Bearsden near Glasgow said Chris Nickol's cover of Life on Mars was the "talk of the steamie" and had given members a confidence boost.

He added that the attention brought to the congregation has had a "very positive impact" on members and around 450 people attended services on Sunday.

Mr Hamilton said the church's musical director used contemporary music to link faith and culture on a regular basis and the video provided a flavour of what could be enjoyed practically every Sunday.

He revealed that many people had got in touch with the congregation since the organ music video emerged with some indicating that they planned to attend in the future.

The two minute 35 second video of Mr Nickol's performance at Kelvingrove Art Gallery last Monday – the day Mr Bowie's death was announced – has been has been shared on Facebook nearly 54,000 times.

It was filmed and uploaded by Milngavie man Gordon Wilson.

A Facebook user called Julie Coulter commented: "Smiling with a tear in my eye, how wonderful."

Writing on the Church's official Facebook page Catherine Cameron said: "Chris is a wonderful organist .

"We at New Kilpatrick hear his excellent playing every week. A fitting tribute on the Kelvingrove organ."

Mr Hamilton said around 450 people attended the church on Sunday to listen to Mr Nickol play.

Several services were held with one being broadcast live on BBC Radio 4.

The programme titled God's Kingdon and Human Need featured the Bearsden Choir of which Mr Nickol is accompanist.

Mr Hamilton said: "The video has had a very positive impact on the church and it is still the talk of the steamie.

"It has created a lot more conversation and given us a wee boost of confidence in many ways by making us realise that we are relevant as long as we find the right thing to talk about.

"A lot of people have contacted the church, we have a lot of new friends and we have been able to say to people 'we play this kind of music so come along'."

Mr Hamilton said many people tuned into the radio broadcast because of the video but Life on Mars, which is taken from David Bowie's 1971 album Hunky Dory, was not performed because it was felt it would not be appropriate.