Woody Woodgate, the drummer from London ska band Madness, has spoken about how David Bowie’s attempt to copy the drums from their song ‘My Girl’ left them in two minds on his hit single ‘Ashes to Ashes’ in the 1980s. On the one hand they were “pissed off” but, on the flip side, admitted that they had their “egos inflated” as a result.
The comments come from the ska icons’ new memoir Before We Was We—in an excerpt obtained by Metro—as the band discussed their reaction to learning that Bowie had borrowed from their single for his 1980 hit.
Discussing the situation, Woodgate explained: “Bowie had said that he’d been looking for a drummer to do the ‘My Girl’ beats on ‘Ashes to Ashes’ and he couldn’t find one that had the same feeling as me. He’d said, ‘There’s something about the feel that’s really great, and none of the American drummers could do it’. Clive went to me, ‘Woody, you do realise that if you put ‘Ashes to Ashes’ up against ‘My Girl’, it’s exactly the same?”
Woodgate shows his mixed emotions when he said: “Anyway, it kind of inflated my ego and pissed me off at the same time. I thought, ‘David Bowie could have fucking asked me!’”
Mike Barson, the keyboard player of Madness, then lifted the conversation to a lighter note when he joked: “Well, I don’t want to tell you about what I stole off Bowie!
“I mean, I think everybody steals a bit,” Barson added. “But, in a month of Sundays, you wouldn’t recognise that My Girl influence on Ashes to Ashes. So, job well done, I’d say.”
Listen to both songs here to spot the similarities: