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Michael Stipe Performs Beautiful Cover of David Bowie’s ‘The Man Who Sold the World’ on ‘Fallon’

When we learned Michael Stipe would make his TV debut as a solo artist on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on Tuesday night (March 29), we speculated whether or not he would unveil new material. Instead, the former R.E.M. frontman stayed true to his recent solo sets and opted for a cover, this time tackling David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold the World.” Check it out above.

The timing of Stipe’s lovely, piano-driven cover is pertinent: He will be one of many musicians at a pair of Bowie tribute concerts in New York City later this week. Laurie Anderson, the Mountain Goats, the Pixies, Cat Power, Mumford and Sons, Jane’s Addiciton’s Perry Farrell and more will perform. The concerts take place on March 31 at Carnegie Hall and April 1 at Radio City Music Hall. The latter show will be live-streamed at this location; proceeds will benefit music education charities.

Stipe and his substantial beard have recently played a couple of surprise solo sets around New York City when opening for Patti Smith. They have heavily focused on covers, including the likes of Perfume Genius, Boy George, John Lennon and Neil Young.

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