One of the most versatile artists of the history of music, the late David Bowie influenced many generations of musicians with albums like “The Man Who Sold the World” (1970), “Aladdin Sane” (1973), “Heroes” (1977) and “Let’s Dance” (1983). During his career he sold more than 100 million records worldwide, what makes him one of the best-selling musicians of all time.
Back in 1979 at the age of 32, twelve years after the release of his debut album, Bowie listed in a radio interview made available by Raised On Radio (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage), 28 songs that were some of his favorites of all time and explained why they were so important in his opinion.
28 songs that David Bowie listed as some of his favorites of all time
Doors “Love Street”
“It’s a big gray out today but I’ve got some water and I’ve got a bunch of records. So I think if I was walking outside at the moment I would like to be walking on this street. It’s ‘Love Street’ by The Doors. A commanding performer (Jim Morrison), I remember seeing him once at I think it was the Roundhouse when they came to London the first time,” David Bowie said.
One of the most influential American bands of all time, The Doors were formed in Los Angeles, California back in 1965 and sold more than 100 million records worldwide. The band mixed Psychedelic and Blues rock with lyrics that were deep and could even be considered to be real poems. Some of their most famous tracks are “Light My Fire”, “Break On Through” and “L.A. Woman”.
The Stooges “TV Eye”
“A buddy of mine, Iggy Pop, this is just something that I remember with affection because it’s when I was with him on tour playing piano for him, this one is called ‘TV Eye’,” David Bowie said.
Nicknamed the “Godfather Of Punk”, Iggy Pop first achieved fame as the vocalist of The Stooges, band that is considered to be one of the biggest influences of Punk Rock music. Not only for their sound but for Iggy’s attitude on stage. After leaving the band the musician went solo and maintained the same kind of behavior at his live performances. But also experimented with other music genres over the years. Pop and Bowie were good friends and worked together multiples times since the 70s.
Some of his most famous songs are “The Passenger”, “Lust For Life” and “Real Wild Child”.
John Lennon “Remember”
“I think this is a really despondent track, he left his band and he was doing his first solo album and I found it rivetingly depressing. So I really enjoyed playing it to myself. Very good piano, I think it’s Billy Preston, actually. Growing Up and being angry that’s what this one was all about,” David Bowie said.
After The Beatles, John Lennon started his successful solo career and even worked with Bowie on the track “Fame”, released on Bowie’s 1975 album “Young Americans”. In an interview back in 1995 with MTV (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage), Bowie recalled how he met John, saying: “It’s really hard to remember when I actually met John. It must have been sort somewhere in middle 1974, my guess.”
“We kind started knocking around with each other, and he had his eye, I thought at the time gave which I thought one of the better Lennon quotes I’ve said a number of times. But when I asked him when what thought (about) what I was doing, ‘Glam Rock’, he said ‘Yes, great sir. But it’s just Rock and Roll with lipstick on’.”
? and The Mysterians “96 Tears”
“? and The Mysterians ’96 Tears’, which nobody has in their record collection (laughs), they actually got it here. It’s an extraordinary piece of music. There was another incredible one called 13th Floor Elevators (band), I can’t remember that one very well. It was around the same period, I think. I guess some Punk freak will sort of correct me on that,” David Bowie said.
Formed in Bay City and Saginaw, in the sate of Michigan, ? and The Mysterians was initially active from 1962 to 1969 and their biggest hit “96 tears” reached at the time the first position on the Billboard Hot 100 at the time of its release.
Elgar “Nursery Suite, The Wagon”
“This is a Punk that I was incredibly impressed by this one when I first heard it. It was a real use of music in describing a situation musically. It’s also nice and short. But it’s classical music. It’s very good. You see what you think it describes. It was in fact a wagon. I expect you guessed, didn’t you? It was from the Nursery Suite,” David Bowie said.
The oldest musician listed by Bowie, Edward Elgar was an English classic composer that lived from 1857 until 1934. He is considered to be the first composer that took the gramophone seriously and his work was revived by later generations, especially in the 60s.
Danny Kaye “Inchworm”
“Here’s another nursery song, this one is interesting because I thought it was an extraordinary thing to use numbers as backing vocals that I really liked that idea. I’ve just heard it again. But here is the first one that I heard, it was ‘Inchworm’ by Danny Kaye,” David Bowie said.
Born in New York City back in 1911, Danny Kaye was an actor, singer, musician, dancer, comedian, philanthropist and cook. He also was the first ambassador-at-large of UNICEF back in 1954 and received the French Legion Of Honour in 1986, one year before his death at the age of 76, for his years of work with the organization.
Phillip Glass “Trial Prison”
“If you wanna get very modern there is a chappie called Phillip Glass, listen how he uses numbers. I think probably his music could point to a particular direction that music maybe or some aspect of music may be going at the moment. So this is from an opera that he wrote, which was about 15 and half years long and they sort of put some selections out on this album called ‘Einstein on The Beach’.”
“This particular piece is called ‘Trial Prision’, there is a lovely little narration in it by one of the singers. It will be on the left hand side of your speaker if you’ve got stereo or on the right hand side if you’ve got them plugged in the wrong way around,” David Bowie said.
Phillip Glass is an American composer and pianist often considered to be one of the most infleuntial of the end of the 20th century. His work has been associated with minimalism because of the form that is built, using repetitive phrases and shifting layers.
Velvet Underground “Sweet Jane”
“The first single that I heard when I first went to American on the first day that i got there was in New York. I was taken over to a writer’s apartment that he had. Probably on eight avenue somewhere. He played me an album that had just come out and he was very excited by this track and so was I. So I expect you were when you heard it as well. It’s ‘Sweet Jane’ by the Velvet Underground,” David Bowie said.
One of the most influential bands of the 60s, Velvet Underground was formed in in New York City in 1964 and had Lou Reed as guitarist and singer, who would later also have a successful solo career. Also the group is considered one of the godfathers of the Underground, Experimental and Alternative music for their sound and the way the lyricis were presented.
Mars “Helen Fordsdale”
“Brian Eno put it together a compilation album of four new bands from America, one of them called Mars. I’m not particularly fond of much of the album. But this one piece of music bowled me over. So I think it’s superb and it’s called ‘Helen Fordsdale’. How about that lot?”
“I think it reminds me of I think Min from the Goon Show, doesn’t you? ‘Hello first day!’ (Bowie mimics the character and laughs). It’s the most eccentric voice I’ve heard in years. It’s incredible!” David Bowie said.
Mars was a short-lived band that only worked from 1975 to 1978 and were labeled as a No Wave Experimental Nois Rock band.
Little Richard “He’s My Star”
“This is quite absurd as well. Guess who this is, it’s called ‘He’s a Star’, I think I’ve got the title right (He actually didn’t). I couldn’t believe this when I first heard it.”
After the song is played on the radio show, Bowie continues, saying: “That was Little Richard, that’s a far cry, he had this strange thing where he threw all his rings and everything away and became a preacher ofr a bit. This was an outcome of that when he started doing sort of Gospel music and church music. How he changed his voice like that. I must have given up something else I think (laughs),” David Bowie said.
One of the godfathers of Rock and Roll music, Little Richard influenced a whole generation of musicians like The Beatles, who were big fans of his work and over the decades said that he was a big influence on them.
King Crimson “21st Century Schizoid Man”
“If you fancy yourself as a schizophrenic, I think this becomes your theme song. I used to love this one. ’21st Century Schizoid Man’ by young Robert Fripp‘s, it’s a very exciting band, King Crimson,” David Bowie said.
Formed in 1968, King Crimson became one of the most respected Progressive Rock bands in history. Led by guitarist Robert Fripp, the band released many influential albums, the most famous one being their 1969 debut “In The Court Of The King Crimson”.
Talking Heads “Warning Sign”
“Here is a band that I admire very much. Some very, very charming people, David Byrne in particular. We are talking about the Talking Heads, of course. Here is a track, I think from their last (At the time) album ‘More Songs About Buildings and Food’ (1978). I found this very impressive, it took me back actually to the days of the early Yardbirds. But I don’t know why”, David Bowie said.
Formed in New York City in 1975, The Talking Heads became one of the most famous New Wave groups. They achieved fame with tracks like “Psycho Killer”, “This Must Be The Place” and “Once In A Lifetime”.
David Byrne and David Bowie were big friends and the Talking Heads member inducted Bowie into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame back in 1996. In his speech, Byrne said: “When David Bowie came along, Rock and Roll needed a shot in the arm.”
Jeff Beck “Beck’s Bolero”
“The Yardbirds of course leads in very beautifully to Jeff Beck. This was a piece a music that I think he wrote and I think they must have done it in about four and a half minutes. It really sounds at it’s thrown together. But like all classics, it’s still shoots out of the speakers,” David Bowie said.
One of the most influential British guitarists of all time, Jeff Beck first achieved fame as a member of The Yardbirds, He later embarked on a successful solo career where he released many instrumental albums and worked with many other famous artists like Stevie Wonder, Rod Stewart and Roger Waters.
Ronnie Spector “Try Some Buy Some”
“Here is a song that made me fall in love with the singer. Absolutely incredible, my heart when straight out to her and it was produced by Phil Spector. I may be wrong but I think it’s the last single that he ever made and because he was so depressed that it dind’t do anything, that nobody bought. So is quite ironic really, because the title was ”Try Some Buy Some’ by his ex-wife Ronnie Spector,” David Bowie said.
Ronnie Spector first achieved fame as a singer of The Ronettes, group that is famous for their work with producer Phil Spector who would later become her husband. With the group she had many famous hits like “Be My Baby”, “Baby, I Love You” and “Walking In The Rain”.
T.Rex “20th Century Boy”
“Here is a guy that probably did as much for the early sound in England as Spector did to the 60s sound in America, single-handedly changed an awful lot of waht was happening sound-wise in England. So it’s my old buddy Marc Bolan and the song is called ’20th Century Boy’, which he always will be,” David Bowie said.
One of the most important musicians of the British Glam Rock scene, Marc Bolan achieved fame with T-Rex and released many influential albums like “Electric Warrior” (1971), “The Slider” (1972) and “Tanx” (1973). He sadly died too soon in 1977 at the age of 29 victim of a car accident.
The Mekons “Where Were You”
“Here is some guys that follow the tradition of what young Marc was laying down I suppose. So they are called The Mekons, I hope they gig a lot, they deserve to with this track, it’s called “Where Were You”, as a beautiful sort of Velvet Underground top guitar over,” David Bowie said.
The Mekons were formed in the late 70s as an art collective. Originally a Post Punk band, their style has evolved over the decades incorporating Country Music, Folk and Alternative.
Steve Forbert “Big City Cat”
“There is a new singer, I don’t know if the is a new singer, but I mean he is new to me anyway. His name is Steve Forbert and this is a track from his new album. I like it particularly because one of my old band is on it. Dave Sanborn is playing saxophone on it, it’s called ‘Big City Cat’,” David Bowie said.
Born in Meridian, Mississippi back in 1954, Steve Forbert is a Folk and Americana musician that with his 1979 song “Romeo’s Tune” reached number 11 on the United States Billboard Hot 100. Some of his most famous songs also are “Cellophane City”, “I’m In Love With You” and “Goin’ Down To Laurel”.
The Rolling Stones “We Love You”
“This is another kind of love song by The Stones. This one is called ‘We Love You’, I’m sure they mean it,” David Bowie said.
Formed in London back in 1962, The Rolling Stones became one of the biggest bands of all time that sold more than 200 million records worldwide. The song chosen by Bowie was first released as a single in 1967 with “Dandelion” as the B-Side.
Roxy Music “2HB”
“Another very deserving band this one. I think this also caught everybody’s imagination, especially if you liked Humphrey Bogart. But it’s called 2HB, very clever pun, isn’t it? Isn’t that a clever pun? It’s by Roxy Music, You see, if you’re an artist the two HP pencil, you see, do you get it? HP means Humphrey Bogart, that’s a pun. See… it’s a pun! So Roxy Music thought that up” David Bowie said.
Formed in 1970 by singer and main songwriter Bryan Ferry, Roxy Music mixed Progressive, Soft, Glam Rock and many other genres in their music. Some of their most famous tracks are “More Than This”, “Avalon” and “Love Is The Drug”.
Bruce Springsteen “It’s Hard To Be A Saint In The City”
“Here is a great writer and I don’t like what he is doing very much now. I loved this album when it came out. It was ‘Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.’ and after I heard this track I never rode the subway again, it’s called ‘It’s Hard To Be A Saint In The City’. That really scared the living ones out of me,” David Bowie said.
One of the most influential and successful American musician in history, Bruce Springsteen achieved fame with his compositions with the E Street Band, selling more than 100 million records worldwide.
Some of his most famous albums are “Born To Run” (1975), “Darkness on the Edge of Town” (1978), “The River” (1980) and “Born in the U.S.A.” (1984).
Stevie Wonder “Fingertips”
“Here’s one that also scared me because it was so incredibly adventurous at the time when it was released. It’s by Stevie Wonder and it’s a startling piece called ‘Fingertips’,” David Bowie said.
The influential Stevie Wonder was born in Saginaw, Michigan back in 1954 and is one of the best-selling musicians of all time with more than 100 million records sold worldwide. His musical career started at the age of 11 when he signed with Motown’s Tamla label where he was given the professional name of Little Stevie Wonder. The song picked by Bowie was released in 1963 when Wonder was only 13 and became a number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100.
Blondie “Rip Her To Shreds”
“Let’s bring back the good wheater again, let’s try very hard anyway. Now what can we do that with, I think we can probably do it. Let’s leave it to Blondie, a little sort of up tempo thing called ‘Rip Her To Shreds’. How about that then? Lovely little Debbie, it’s got a good hook.”
“As Kierkegaard used to say ‘has he got a good hook?’ sad that one, really quite sad. I’m sorry that so many of these are so sad. It’s the wheater or these shoes, really hurt, make toes hurt in between. I’ve got these strange sort of Japanese sandals on and it hurt your toes. Anyway, it’s not hurting the music, it’s not fair,” David Bowie said.
Formed in New York City back in 1974, by singer Debbie Harry and guitarist Chris Stein, Blondie became one of the pioneers of the American New Wave scene. With many hits in the 70s and 80s, the band sold more than 40 million records worldwide.
Some of their most famous songs are “Heart Of Glass”, “Call Me”, “One Way Or Another” and “Maria”.
Bob Seger “Beautiful Loser”
“I’m not sure about that one, I think it’s quite nice. I only played it because it’s got the word ‘lodger’ in it and that’s my new album title. You don’t have to worry about, it’s just an ego problem,” David Bowie said.
Born in Detroit, Michigan back in 1945, Bob Seger is known for his raspy and powerful voice and lyricis that talk about the struggles of the working class man. He sold more than 75 million records worldwide and some of his most famous songs are “Night Moves”, “Old TIme Rock & Roll” and “Against The Wind”.
Talking Heads “The Book I Read”
“That was Talking Heads, you see, they are different to me. I mean, they actually go and read the books, they never read any walls, I’ve read them on a wall though, next to Kierkegaard,” David Bowie said.
“The Book I Read” was released on the Talking Heads 1977 debut album. But is not the most famous song of the record since “Psycho Killer”, the band’s most famous song was also a track.
Roxy Music “For Your Pleasure”
“Here is another Roxy Music smashing track called ‘For Your Pleasure’ and I love the ‘Tara’, it’s a beautiful gesture. I saw them in concert the other week in New York, it was very good. If you see it the new show, I’m quite pleased they reformed. Their bass player is very good, awfully good bass player, it jumps very well. Got a good jumping bass player, Roxy Music, excellent. One of the best little jumpers I’ve seen,” David Bowie said.
“For Your Pleasure” is the title-track of Roxy Music’s second studio album. It was the last one to feature the synthesiser and sound specialist Brian Eno, who would later achieve fame as a solo artist and producer.
King Curtis “Something On Your Mind”
“This is a mess. No, this is a track by King Curtis, who is a fine musician and I hope you enjoy it, it’s called ‘Something On Your Mind’,” David Bowie said.
Born in Forth Worth, Texas back in 1934, King Curtis was an R&B saxophonist. He also played in classic songs like Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” and The Coasters’ “Yakety Yak”. However, he died too soon in 1971 at the age of 37, he was assassinated after a discussion with a man in the building where he lived.
The Staple Singers “Tellin’ Lies”
“Here are three girls that got a very musical dad and one of the girls is very, very sexy and I keep playing her records over and over again when I’m on my own. It’s The Staple Singers and it’s called ‘”Tellin’ Lies’. She breathes very well, doesn’t she? So I mean, the Roxy Music guy jumps better, but she can really breathe, she does a good breathe”, David Bowie said.
One of the most famous R&B groups of all time, The Staples Singers was formed by the Staples family members. Some of their most famous songs are “I’ll Take You There”, “Respect Yourself” and “If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me)”.