Jimmy Page, Keith Richards, Morrissey, Ricky Gervais and more choose their favourites…
10 Let’s Dance
From Let’s Dance (April 1983); released as a single, March 1983. Highest UK chart position: 1; Highest US chart position: 1
Bowie straightest pop song yet, white funk immaculately produced by Nile Rogers and Bernard Edwards, eases him into stadium megastardom
JIMMY PAGE: I played on his records, did you know that? His very early records, when he was Davy Jones & The Lower Third. The Shel Talmy records. I can think of two individual sessions that I did with him. He said in some interview that on one of those sessions I showed him these chords, which he used in “Space Oddity” – but he said, “Don’t tell Jim, he might sue me.” Ha ha!
There’s a lot of Bowie stuff that’s just terrific. He’s multi-faceted, multi-talented, isn’t he? I’m going to say “Let’s Dance” because it introduced everybody to Stevie Ray Vaughan. People were always saying, “Who’s the guitarist on that?” In the early days [Page is presumably referring to the 1970s] he was prolific and he put out some really important work. He was taking from various sources and putting it together, but that’s an art form in itself. And then the application of images… that whole Ziggy Stardust period and the build-up to Aladdin Sane, it captured the imagination. I knew people who couldn’t get enough of that world he created, couldn’t wait for the next release, the next tour. People still refer to his work from that time, and I think they always will. He’s a really important figure.
9 Life On Mars
From Hunky Dory (December 1971); released as a single June 1973 Highest UK chart position: 3
Bowie’s rejected English lyrics for the French original of “My Way” form the backbone of this astonishing song, and relocate the Dame as a kind of glam Sinatra…
MICK ROCK (photographer): Bowie wasn’t very well-known when I first met him. There were about 400 people at Birmingham Town Hall in March 1972. But I was fascinated with him. Even though they were small audiences, he projected very big. I made videos for him – “Moonage Daydream”, “John, I’m Only Dancing” and “The Jean Genie”. Then “Life On Mars” was released as a single in the summer of ’73. The video production values are minimal, all born of necessity. There was no budget at all. I shot “Life On Mars” in a day at Earls Court. I loved Hunky Dory, but there was something about “Life On Mars” that really got me. I still couldn’t tell you what it’s about, but that’s art. I wouldn’t go as far as saying it’s like reading Rimbaud, but it is rock’n’roll poetry. There’s something Zen-like about that song, even though it’s so emotional. It was the song that sold me on David. It triggered me towards wanting to write something about him and take some pictures. And as a result, our relationship developed from that. All that came afterwards, from Iggy and Lou to Queen, came in the wake of the stimulation provided by that LP and, specifically, “Life On Mars”. It’s the most significant Bowie song for me.