Watch 1990s footage of David Bowie and Lou Reed duet on ‘Queen Bitch’
Many people won’t know that David Bowie’s iconic 1971 hit ‘Queen Bitch’ is actually about his close friend and collaborator Lou Reed. Som at Bowie’s 50th birthday part in 1997, it seemed only fitting that he should be the man across the mic from the birthday boy.
The performance also included a cover of the Velvet Underground’s ‘I’m Waiting for the Man’ and Reed’s comeback hit from 1989, ‘Dirty Blvd’. Again, this isn’t much of a surprise when you consider just how big a fan of Reed and the Velvet Underground, the two artists history with one another, and that made this performance even more special.
Bowie was behind the mixing desk for Reed’s seminal solo work Transformer, even introducing him to many of his fans in 1972. While VU hits had been in Bowie’s live repertoire, namely ‘White Light/White Hit’, from Ziggy onwards, this is one of the very few times that Bowie and Reed shared the same stage.
“We’re still friends after all these years,” Reed told Rolling Stone in 2004. “We go to the occasional art show and museum together, and I always like working with him. I really love what David does, so I’m happy he’s still doing it and that he’s still interested. I saw him play here in New York on his last tour, and it was one of the greatest rock shows I’ve ever seen. At least as far as white people go. Seriously.”
The huge show, in 1997, was held at Madison Square Garden, just a casual party then, and it featured a whole host of incredible musical guests. Including Frank Black, Dave Grohl, Robert Smith, Sonic Youth and Billy Corgan. That many stars meant Bowie would bring out his ‘hits’, which he famously retired on a 1990 tour, to please the crowd. For tracks like ‘Space Oddity,’ it was the first outing they had seen in many years.
In truth, it was a very odd time for Bowie. He hadn’t really hit the heights with an album since Let’s Dance from 1983 and his latest album had received a very cold reception. He would release ‘I’m Afraid of Americans’ and things, especially fan reception, would begin to warm up a touch. Maybe this was the start of something?
Watch Lou Reed and David Bowie duet on ‘Queen Bitch’ from 1997.