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David Bowie’s drummer splits with band Holy Holy over vaccination status

Woody Woodmansey, of Spiders from Mars fame, is not vaccinated against COVID-19

By Joe Goggins

David Bowie holds a telephone up to his face in a black and white headshot photo
Bowie during his concert in front of the Reichstag building, West Berlin, in 1987. (Photo: DPA Picture Alliance/Alamy)

David Bowie’s former drummer has left the band he formed with producer Tony Visconti over his vaccination status.

Woody Woodmansey, who handled percussive duties in Bowie’s Spiders from Mars backing band during the rock icon’s Ziggy Stardust era, started Holy Holy with Visconti in 2013, as a seven-piece supergroup playing Bowie’s hits on the road. 

Now, just weeks before the band’s nine-date Best of Bowie tour of the UK, Woodmansey has been forced to stand down from Holy Holy, as he is not vaccinated against COVID-19. He has cited a medical exemption, but a statement on behalf of the tour suggested that his refusal of the vaccine was down to personal choice.

“It is with deep regret that I have to announce I will no longer be a part of the band Holy Holy,” said Woodmansey, who lost his wife shortly before the pandemic began, in a statement. “Due to my medical exemption regarding the C19 vaccination, the band do not feel safe having me involved and have replaced me in the band. Therefore, you will not be seeing me on the upcoming tour in March 2022. I have no negative feelings towards the band, they are doing what they believe is best for them, whilst I am doing the same.”

Nobody from Holy Holy was available for direct comment on Woodmansey’s departure. However, a statement released on behalf of the Best of Bowie tour said: The vaccine is something that the band and crew feel very strongly about for the health and safety of everyone involved in the tour. It is incredibly sad that personal beliefs over the vaccine, has lead, to the break-up of the original incarnation of the band, but the decision was not taken lightly and the remaining members of Holy Holy are focused on providing the same exceptional quality shows, with all the stardust of Bowie, as safely as possible for all involved.”

Holy Holy will hit the road as scheduled in March, after having been forced to reschedule an initially planned 2020 run because of the pandemic. The band, anchored by Bowie’s long-time producer Visconti, begin the tour at Birmingham’s Town Hall on March 2, before heading on to Cambridge, York, Glasgow, Liverpool, Aylesbury, Bath, Cardiff and London, promising both hit songs and cult classics from the Starman’s back catalogue.

Holy Holy, March 2022:

2 – Birmingham, Town Hall

4 – Cambridge, Corn Exchange

5 – York, Barbican

6 – Glasgow, O2 Academy

7 – Liverpool, Philharmonic Hall

9 – Aylesbury, Waterside Theatre

11 – Bath, Forum

12 – Cardiff, Tramshed

13 – London, Barbican