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Music

How David Bowie helped Stereophonics write 'Dakota'

With a career spanning 50 years of relentless creative metamorphosis, David Bowie created a legacy that has gone largely unparalleled in popular music. Long before his experimental spell in Berlin with creative mastermind Brian Eno, or his humbly-admitted ‘Phil Collins era’ of the mid-1980s, Bowie was a young scamp circling the streets of London that seemed to explode with the creative energy of the 1960s. 

The young Bowie was a sponge, as any good young musician should be, soaking up inspiration from all the weird and wonderful art in his environment. His road to success was difficult, but he finally broke through with his 1969 single ‘Space Oddity’. Following his breakthrough, he rose to global stardom on the wing of his alter ego Ziggy Stardust. 

Even at these early stages of his career, the creative juggernaut had become an inspiration to so many budding artists. In 1972, Bowie would meet his hero Lou Reed of The Velvet Underground. The two became close friends and Bowie worked with Reed to produce, and provide backing vocals for, his seminal solo album Transformer in 1972.

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As Bowie progressed through the early 1970s, he stood at the helm of glam-rock steering other artists through inspiration and even took time to give his peers a helping hand on occasion. Most notably, the Starman helped the failing glam-rock group Mott the Hoople by writing ‘All the Young Dudes’ for them. The track went on to become the group’s biggest hit of all time and changed the tide of their career.

Over the course of the late 1970s, Bowie solidified his position as one of the most dominating creative forces in music as he looked to push the boundaries of genre collaborating with Brian Eno and Iggy Pop during his four-year spell in Berlin. After this spell, Bowie had well and truly set popular music on a new trajectory with much of the music throughout the 1980s traceable back to one of Bowie’s influential periods. 

Despite having lost the rock icon back in 2016, many artists still speak of Bowie’s enduring inspiration. In 2020, Stereophonics frontman Kelly Jones spoke of how David Bowie had inspired him to write ‘Dakota’, one of the Welsh group’s biggest hits to this day.

Stereophonics had toured the USA with Bowie back in 2003 and he used to attend the group’s soundchecks ahead of each show. Jones explained: “David Bowie would be watching, so we didn’t want to waste too much of his time. So we’d play a song for maybe 45 seconds, and then another song for like a minute, and then maybe another song for a minute, and then maybe 30 seconds of a song”.

He continued: “And then I would walk off the stage and I would walk towards the dressing room, and [Bowie] would put his arm on my shoulder and he would walk with me and say, ‘You know, if you extended a few of those songs, you might be fucking onto something’. So I wrote this song, this is called ‘Dakota’”.

The album version of ‘Dakota’, appearing on 2005’s Language. Sex. Violence. Other? clocks in just shy of five minutes; it features an extended outro which was cut for the song’s radio edit.

Listen to the full-length version of the Stereophonics hit ‘Dakota’ below.