David Bowie remains one of those rare artists that need no real introduction. Perhaps the most pioneering musician in popular music after The Beatles, Bowie’s contributions to the development of culture cannot be understated. The chameleonic Brixton native defied social mores and the established norms by doing whatever he desired at a time way before the idea of punk was even an embryo.
Bowie understood the power of image and of artistic reinvention and utilised the brilliance of a whole cast of characters, such as Mick Ronson, Tony Visconti and Nile Rodgers in order to bring his ever-expanding sonic palette to fruition. In turn, he showed audiences that there is no rulebook for creating music; it can be whatever you want it to be and say whatever you want it to say. Bowie was postmodernism personified, and duly, his work was colourful, fluid and at many points, highly cynical.
Whether it be Space Oddity, Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, Scary Monsters, or otherwise, there is much to delve into in Bowie’s extensive back catalogue, and remarkably for something so vast, the majority of it is bloody good. From the sexually charged glam rock of the early ’70s to the more cerebral ideas of his later work, there is a bit for everyone in Bowie’s discography, a testament to the dexterity of his genius and the extent of his intellect.
David Bowie was, before all else, a creator and an ideas man who was lucky enough to have the talent to bring his vision to life, even if he often did lean on the aptitude of others at times. Seemingly, this stemmed from the fact that his brain didn’t have an off-switch. He was a true creative who was always thinking of new ways to set the world straight and achieve a greater degree of artistic enlightenment.
Bowie was one of the most prolific songwriters in music history, and luckily for everyone, he didn’t just keep his ideas to himself. He wrote songs for many of his friends and other artists and, in some instances, gave artists their most famous and best-loved hits in what is another testament to just how incredible Bowie’s knack for songwriting was.
Undoubtedly, the most famous instance of Bowie writing a track for another artist was 1972’s ‘All the Young Dudes’, the megahit he gifted to English rockers Mott the Hoople. Credited with halting the band’s decision to call it a day, Bowie had initially offered them ‘Suffragette City’, but when they politely declined, he wrote ‘All the Young Dudes’ in a matter of hours instead.
When they first heard the track, unsurprisingly, the band were over the moon. Frontman Ian Hunter explained: “He just played it on an acoustic guitar. I knew straight away it was a hit. There were chills going down my spine. It’s only happened to me a few times in my life, when you know that this is a biggie”.
Drummer Dale Griffin echoed this sentiment: “We couldn’t believe it. In the office at Regent Street he’s strumming it on his guitar and I’m thinking, he wants to give us that? He must be crazy! We broke our necks to say yes! You couldn’t fail to see it was a great song.”
This wasn’t the first time that Bowie had written for other artists, and it wouldn’t be the last. This side hustle would have varying degrees of success over the years, seeing him work with everyone from Iggy Pop to Tina Turner.
His other most famous song he wrote for another artist has to be Iggy Pop‘s classic anthem, ‘Lust for Life’. Even though he is credited with co-writing the track, the story is well-known that it was Bowie who composed the foundations of the song on a ukelele whilst the pair were waiting for an episode of Starsky & Hutch. The rhythm was based on an Armed Forces Network call signal which they picked up on while waiting for that week’s episode of the cop show.
The tracks that Bowie wrote for other artists are countless, but we’ve taken it upon ourselves to list some of the best. There are some admissions here for obvious reasons, but we’ve compiled this list in the hope of holding the light up to just how talented of a songwriter Bowie was. After reading this, one thing should be crystal clear, there will never be anyone like David Bowie again.
Find the full list below.
The songs David Bowie wrote for other musicians:
- ‘I am Laser’ – Ava Cherry and the Astronettes
- ‘People from Bad Homes’ – Ava Cherry and the Astronettes
- ‘Things To Do’ – Ava Cherry and the Astronettes
- ‘I am Divine’ – Ava Cherry and the Astronettes
- ‘Madman’ – Cuddly Toys
- ‘Over the Wall We Go’ – Paul Nicholas
- ‘Oh, You Pretty Things’ – Peter Noone
- ‘Growing Up and I’m Fine’ – Mick Ronson
- ‘Music Is Lethal’ – Mick Ronson
- ‘Hey Ma, Hey Pa’ – Mick Ronson
- ‘All the Young Dudes’ – Mott the Hoople
- ‘China Girl’ – Iggy Pop
- ‘Tonight’ – Iggy Pop
- ‘Sister Midnight’ – Iggy Pop
- ‘Lust For Life’ – Iggy Pop
- ‘Some Weird Sin’ – Iggy Pop
- ‘Turn Blue’ – Iggy Pop
- ‘Neighbourhood Threat’ – Iggy Pop
- ‘Fall In Love With Me’ – Iggy Pop
- ‘Nightclubbing’ – Iggy Pop
- ‘Funtime’ – Iggy Pop
- ‘Baby’ – Iggy Pop
- ‘Dum Dum Boys’ – Iggy Pop
- ‘Tiny Girls’ – Iggy Pop
- ‘Mass Production’ – Iggy Pop
- ‘Girls’ – Tina Turner