5 Songs You Didn’t Know Featured David Bowie

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

When it comes to the world of music and popular songs, few people are as recognizable and noticeable as David Bowie. The Ziggy Stardust inventor is visually and sonically mesmerizing.

And it’s because of this fact that it may come as a surprise that there are a number of songs that have featured Bowie in the past that many of his fans might not be able to name off the top of their hands. Heck, Bowie may not have even been credited for his appearance in some of them, as we’ll see below.

So, here, dear reader, we will explore the 5 songs you didn’t know featured the legendary frontman, songwriter, and performer David Bowie.

1. “The Passenger” by Iggy Pop

The song, which was written by Iggy Pop and guitarist Ricky Gardiner, remains a hit today some 45 years after it was released into the world in the late 1970s. “The Passenger” was recorded in West Berlin and the lineup consisted of Pop, Gardiner, Bowie (on piano), and Carlos Alomar on guitar. Brothers Tony and Hunt Sales were on bass and drums.

The song came out on the Iggy Pop album, Lust For Life, in 1977. And Bowie, Pop, and Colin Thurston produced the album under the pseudonym Bewlay Bros, which was a reference to the final track on Bowie’s 1971 album, Hunky Dory. Said Pop of the song, which was inspired by touring with Bowie, “I’d been riding around North America and Europe in David’s car ad infinitum. I didn’t have a driver’s license or a vehicle.”

2. “Walk on the Wild Side” by Lou Reed

Bowie had long been a fan of Lou Reed’s (and his band The Velvet Underground) and in the early 1970s, he agreed to produce what would become Reed’s seminal album, Transformer, along with Mick Ronson. On the album, Bowie performed backing vocals, keyboards, and acoustic guitar on “Wagon Wheel” and “Walk on the Wild Side.”

3. “Under Pressure” by Queen

Originally released in 1981 as a single by Queen and David Bowie, “Under Pressure” was later released the following year on the Queen album Hot Space. The song peaked at No. 1 on the U.K. Singles Chart, which was Queen’s second chart-topper, and Bowie’s third. “Under Pressure” featured a memorable staccato bassline that would go on to be sampled in a number of songs, including Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby”

4. “The Little Drummer Boy” by Bing Crosby

Wanting to break into the mainstream early in his career, Bowie agreed to team up with famed song and dance man Bing Crosby. While he didn’t know their duet would include a Christmas tune, and initially, he was reluctant to go down that road, Bowie and Crosby linked up for the classic song “The Little Drummer Boy.” See two legends collide in this Christmas cover.

5. “Fannin Street” by Scarlett Johanson

The actress-turned-part-time-singer recorded her album of Tom Waits covers in 2007. As the story goes, at a party before the work began, Johansson ran into Bowie and the two got to talking about the record. Later, as Johansson was in Spain filming a movie, Bowie stopped by as the album was being mixed. He sang backup vocals on two tracks, “Falling Down” and “Fannin Street,” in one of the most unlikely of collabs in popular music history.

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