By now, you may have heard that iconic rock star, actor, and all-around art and gender paradigm-destroyer David Bowie has passed away, just days after his 69th birthday. The legendary musician known for his theatrical personas (Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane) and game-changing songwriting fought his battle against cancer for 18 months before his death this Monday morning. Among so many other things for which we'll remember David Bowie, collaborations with other artists ranks very near the top. The Internet is already rife with reactions to Bowie’s death, with hundreds of comments on his Facebook page about how his music touched people’s lives, folks in South London leaving mementos in his honor beneath a colorful mural of him in Brixton, and even celebrities tweeting about his loss.
If you’ve been a long-standing fan of Bowie’s, you’re likely familiar with the fact that he was constantly collaborating with other musicians. From his “Berlin Trilogy” albums which he collaborated on with Brian Eno, to the 1984 collab album Tonight with Tina Turner and Iggy Pop, to his vocal work on Placebo’s “Without You I’m Nothing," Bowie was certainly a musician who knew how to play well with others (and make amazing music while doing so). As we mourn the loss of such a musical talent, I’ve gathered some of Bowie’s greatest collaborations for those who may want to reminisce on Bowie’s influence on and work with others.
'The Idiot' With Iggy Pop
One of David Bowie’s earliest collaborations was the creation and recording (and subsequent tour for) the 1977 album The Idiot with fellow rock icon, Iggy Pop. The opening track to the record, “Sister Midnight,” was written by the pair along with guitarist Carlos Alomar, and from first listen you can sense Bowie’s work at play. The record also includes tracks like “China Girl” (which Bowie later went on to re-record it for his 1983 album, Let’s Dance). Here you can see Bowie doing back-up vocals with Iggy in what was just one of countless stellar performances.
"The Man Who Sold The World" With Klaus Nomi
In 1979, Bowie appeared on an episode of Saturday Night Live along with eccentric performer Klaus Nomi. Bowie is dressed up Nomi-style, wearing something of an exaggerated, oversized vinyl suit and black-and-white striped bow tie in this video. In another video, Bowie wears a women’s skirt suit and heels while Nomi totes a pink poodle toy while they perform “TVC15.” Anyone who’s a fan of Bowie’s eccentricities surely would have an appreciation for the performance stylings of Klaus Nomi. If this is your introduction, get to searching for more Nomi because he is amazing.
"Under Pressure" With Queen
“Under Pressure” is undoubtedly one of my favorite Bowie collabs. Freddie Mercury and Bowie’s work on this 1981 hit came out of a jam session with the band and is surely among the most memorable pieces of music of the time. Bowie also performed this song at the Queen Tribute in 1992 with another incredible singer, Annie Lennox, just months after Freddie Mercury’s passing.
The 'Dissonance' Tour With Nine Inch Nails
When folks think of a David Bowie and Trent Reznor collaboration, they automatically think back to the 1997 single and video, "I’m Afraid of Americans." And while this was definitely an incredible track, many might not know (or remember) that Bowie went on tour with Nine Inch Nails for the Dissonance tour just two years before that. According to the NiN Wiki, Reznor wound up performing after Bowie for many performances, “uncomfortable having his idol open for him.” But they also performed together, like in this video of the pair performing “Subterraneans” and “Scary Monsters.” Epic does not begin to describe what seeing Reznor and Bowie together on stage must have been like.
Bowie’s 50th Birthday Performance With Billy Corgan
Celebrating Bowie’s 50th birthday at a concert in Madison Square Garden in 1997, Billy Corgan joined Mr. Stardust himself for two performances. The first was of “All The Young Dudes,” a tune written by David Bowie and recorded by Mott the Hoople in 1972, undeniably one of the best songs in rock history. Corgan and Bowie also performed “The Jean Genie,” a Bowie single originally released in 1972 and also featured on Aladdin Sane. Both performances can be appreciated above.
"Five Years" And "Wake Up" With Arcade Fire
This 2005 performance at the Fashion Rocks concert in NYC’s Radio City Music Hall was one of the few rare appearances Bowie made after suffering a heart attack in Germany the previous year. Bowie performed this version of "Five Years" (off Ziggy Stardust) along with “Wake Up” (an Arcade Fire song) and a few other tracks, officially placing Arcade Fire in the big time (as if there were any doubt). Bowie also did vocals on Arcade Fire’s single, “Reflektor."
"Comfortably Numb" With David Gilmour
Singer-guitarist David Gilmour is known as one of the masterminds behind prog-rock mega-band Pink Floyd. In 2007, Gilmour performed for three nights at Royal Albert Hall which was recorded for the DVD Remember That Night. One of the most phenomenal performances was on the track, "Comfortably Numb," which included special guests David Crosby and Graham Nash (of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young fame), Robert Wyatt (English musician and founding member of the band Soft Machine), and of course, David Bowie.
We’ll miss you, Bowie.
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