From Lou Reed to Mick Jagger: Eight of David Bowie’s best duets
For an artist so singular in sound and vision, David Bowie has enjoyed some of his finest moments in the spotlight alongside another. Often finding sounds and nuances that other artists would miss, for awhile Bowie had a Midas touch that everybody was interested in.
Below we’re taking a look back at six of Bowie’s finest duets and seeing how the Starman always added an extra touch of glitter to the artists around him. Whether he’s just adding a touch of flair with some eccentric moves or challenging them vocally, Bowie always brings out the best.
Bowie may have shared the stage with some of the world’s finest musical artists but the six below remain as a beacon of Bowie’s own popularity among the upper echelon of music’s history.
The singer was long famed for his eclectic styles and complete commitment to his role as an artist. As well as inspiring countless artists he also challenged them to complete their best work.
David Bowie’s 8 best duets ever
‘Under Pressure’ – Queen
The notorious session Freddie Mercury and David Bowie shared before during and after the recording of Queen’s iconic hit will go down in history. It also may well be the reason for the shared intensity of the track.
Bowie happened to be recording an LP around the corner from Queen’s studio when he humbled in and ended up challenging Mercury to a sing-off. What transpired thereafter turned into one of Bowie’s finest tracks.
‘Young Americans Medley’ – Cher
David Bowie was appearing on the newly-solo-Cher hosted show, having decided to go separate ways with Sonny Bono, to promote his new album Young Americans, but what transpired would live in the hearts and minds of many for years to come far beyond the record.
The amalgamation of tunes the pair sang together amid a decadent 70’s set design, rested heavily on the duo’s pop sensibilities, dipping their musical toes across a range of instantly recognisable hits. It makes for wonderful viewing as two of the pop world’s most treasured artists took on some of that same world’s most legendary songs.
‘Tonight’ – Tina Turner
Originally recorded with Bowie’s undying love and partner Iggy Pop, the singer later re-recorded the track with the musical juggernaut Tina Turner for his 1984 album of the same name.
Watch below as the Queen of the stage welcomes Bowie to share a performance of the track as part of Turner’s Tina: Live In Europe live release. It’s a touching moment shared between to showstoppers.
‘Quicksand’ – The Cure
David Bowie’s 50th birthday was never going to be a quiet affair. Ziggy Stardust would instead gather up all his favourite artists and put on one hell of a show for Madison Square Garden.
It saw Bowie utter his famous quote, “I have no idea where I’m going from here, but I promise I won’t bore you.”. He wasn’t joking, after welcoming performance from Frank Black and Foo Fighters, he introduced Robert Smith of The Cure who joined Bowie for Earthling’s ‘The Last Thing You Should Do’ and the Hunky Dory hit ‘Quicksand’. The duo performed acoustically with both Bowie and Smith on vocals and guitars.
‘I Got You Babe’ – Marianne Faithfull
As it’s David Bowie there was a fair chance that someone was going to perform with him dressed in a PVC nun’s habit. The fact it just so happened to be the glorious Marianne Faithfull performing a cover of Sonny & Cher’s ‘I Got You Babe’ just makes it all the sweeter.
Recorded as part of Bowie’s NBC special from 1973 the singer reportedly told the audience, which was mainly filled with fans: “This isn’t anything serious, it’s just a bit of fun. We’ve hardly even rehearsed it.” With that line in your heads take in the splendour of this brilliantly nuanced performance of ‘I Got You Babe’ from David Bowie & Marianne Faithfull.
‘Hurt’ – Nine Inch Nails
The most iconic cover of Nine Inch Nails’ masterpiece ‘hurt’ is of course not David Bowie. That title belongs to Johnny Cash, as we know. But this performance of the track from 1995 is the best duet of the track as Trent Reznor and Bowie share vocal duties.
NIN were opening for Bowie during his tour and struck up a keen friendship, often sharing songs and stages throughout the tour and becoming close friends ever since. ‘Hurt’ is a particularly great song for Bowie, it allows him to detract from his party-starting image and offer up something a little more ghostly.
‘Dancing in the Street’ – Mick Jagger
Easily the most recognisable of Bowie’s duets it has become a sore point for diehard fans. It’s fair to say the track isn’t the most artistically gifted but it does allow for some irreverence in Bowie’s extensive back catalogue.
Released in 1985, the song is really hinged on the fantastically eighties video of the song. The fact that we can look back at this meeting of minds in such brightly coloured and billowing shirts just makes sure this song will live on forever.
‘I’m Waiting For The Man’ – Lou Reed
Another appearance from David Bowie’s 50th saw the Starman collaborate with one of his longtime friends and longest working partnerships, The Velvet Underground founder, Lou Reed.
Reed joined Bowie on stage for a rendition of VU’s ‘I’m Waiting For The Man’. Reed and Bowie shared a keen friendship and collaborate a lot throughout the years. While Bowie cited Reed as an overarching influence on his work Bowie would get Reed his first post-VU hit with Transformer.
Below is another clip of the pair working in perfect harmony as they share the stage as eagerly as they share smiles. There’s an added bonus of them performing ‘Queen Bitch’ too.