Bill Gates' Desert Island Discs Feature Bowie and Jimi

By Gerald Lynch on at

Bill Gates loves him some dad-rock, as has been revealed by his stint on the Beeb's perennial life-in-music retrospective Desert Island Discs. No surprises there then (this is the godfather of the modern office work life, after all), but at least his taste in dad-rock isn't too bad.

You get some Bowie (via Queen team-up 'Under Pressure'), some Jimi Hendrix ('Are You Experienced?'), The Beatles ('Two of Us'). We'll forgive him Ed Sheeran ('Sing'), as he's picked that as a homage to his (presumably) tone-deaf daughter.

It's between the notes where the episode really shines though, especially when anecdotes recounted to Kirsty Young cast light on Gates' early years. Turns out he was quite the teenage cad, using his school's scheduling software with fellow schoolmate and future Microsoft ally Paul Allen to ensure he was always given a seat next to the prettiest girls in his class.

As for his luxury items? His book choice is The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker (alongside the Bible and complete works of Shakespeare that every castaway is offered), while he settled on "a whole bunch of DVDs of all the world's great lectures" after being told an internet connection was off the cards for DID subjects.

Here, via the BBC, is Gates' musical selections, alongside the choice quotes explaining why they matter to the Microsoft man:

David Bowie and Queen - Under Pressure: "In my 20s and 30s, I worked a lot. But a few Fridays and Saturdays we'd go out and dance so this kind of reminds me of those disco days."

Willie Nelson - Blue Skies: "My wife Melinda and I love Willie Nelson. So as a surprise gift for her, I had him show up the night before we got married. We were on a beach in Hawaii and he kind of walked down the beach with his guitar and I said, 'Well here he is, let's have this guy sing some songs for us.'"

Ed Sheeran - Sing: "My kids, who are 19, 16, and 13, refresh my musical taste by tuning the radio or calling up songs on their phones. And so this is one that my 13-year-old, Phoebe, happens to like."

Jimi Hendrix - Are You Experienced: "Because I was younger [Paul Allen] would sometimes taunt me with the title of this song - Are You Experienced - because I hadn't gotten drunk or other various things, so this is one of our favourites."

U2 - One: "Paul told me that I should meet Bono, and I didn't prioritise it. We finally did get to meet and I was amazed how he had thought about [global health] read about it, and so started a partnership. He has been absolutely amazing."

The Beatles - Two of Us: "Steve [Jobs] was really into music and he loved the Beatles and so did I. And he actually mentioned the song, Two of Us, saying that was kind of like this journey we'd been on where we'd been competing and working together."

How Can Love Survive, from The Sound of Music: "Melinda and I both love the Sound of Music and as I met [investor and philanthropist] Warren Buffett, he and his first wife Susie sang a song from The Sound of Music. In fact this is one we'd never heard because it was in the Broadway musical and not in the movie. It's kind of a cute song so Melinda and I think of this as one of our favourites."

My Shot from Hamilton, the musical: "It's about a young person saying, 'Hey I'm going to take a risk - I'm going to get out there and try and do something new and different.'"

So, U2. That's at least one thing he's got in common with Tim Cook then. Hit the source for more details on how to listen to the whole show. [BBC]