By Sarah Rodman
Globe Staff / October 23, 2009
David Foster gets by with a little help from his friends. And by “gets by’’ we mean has made a fortune. The 15-time Grammy-winning composer-producer’s friends over the years have included Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Madonna, and Michael Bublé, to name a handful of hundreds. The Canadian multi-instrumentalist has played with all four Beatles and starred on questionable reality shows like “The Princes of Malibu’’ – which has the dubious distinction of introducing the world to a young man named Spencer Pratt. On Sunday a few Foster amigos – including ex-Chicago vocalist Peter Cetera, Philip Bailey of Earth, Wind & Fire, and new Filipino teen phenom Charice Pempengco – will join him at the Agganis Arena for a variety show-style stroll through the catalog of tunes he helped make famous, like “After the Love Has Gone,’’ “The Glory of Love,’’ and “Un-Break My Heart.’’ He’ll also unveil the winner of his local talent contest, details of which can be found at www.namedrop.com. We caught up with Foster by phone at his home in Malibu, Calif.
Q. You’ve done one-off concerts in the past but as primarily a studio guy have you ever done a proper tour like this?
A. Never in my life.
Q. So what was the inspiration to hit the road?
A. I used to, and still do, a lot of charities [concerts] and I say that not to get a pat on the back but it’s just a win all the way around because I get to perform for free. Meaning I don’t care whether they like it or not [laughs]. So over the years I’ve kind of honed these hosting skills.
Q. (Foster briefly answers another call in which he talks about finishing work at 3 a.m.) So I have to ask, what did you work on until 3 this morning?
A. It’s actually called “The David Foster-Andrea Bocelli PBS Christmas Special.’’ We just finished editing and the guests are Mary J. Blige, Reba McEntire, Katherine Jenkins, Natalie Cole, and the Muppets.
Q. Do you ever wake up thinking, “I can’t believe this is my life’’?
A. [Laughs] The part that’s really fascinating to me, honestly, is that I’m still semi-relevant all these years later. Because the business eats its youth, you’re constantly trying to think like a 16-year-old, which is impossible. I’m going to be 60 soon. I’ve really come to terms with the fact that I’m not going to be making the next Beyoncé single. I love listening to that kind of music but I don’t know how to make it and I think the producers, writers, artists, and behind-the-scenes people that really hang themselves are the ones who don’t come to terms with the fact that they can’t stay relevant all the time. I don’t think people leave the music business, the music business leaves them.
Q. Who is the dream artist that still eludes you?
A. Stevie Wonder. I’m obsessed. I know exactly what to do with him to do a great album; and we’ve had dinner together and we’re circling it, but he walks to his own beat.