Remembering David Bowie’s Monumental Impact on Music Artists

We look back at the many artists who cited the rock legend as an influence on our show.

A portrait taken on May 13, 1983 shows British singer David Bowie during a press conference at the 36th Cannes Film Festival. (Photo Credit: RALPH GATTI/AFP/Getty Images)

Today we learned the sad news that rock icon David Bowie passed away on Sunday at the age of 69.

As lovers of music and art – and, you know, as human beings who live on planet Earth – we here at DPD were huge fans. So, unsurprisingly, were many of our guests, who over the years often mentioned Bowie as an influence, as an inspiration, and of course as the creator of some of the best party music ever. Here’re a few examples. RIP.

Sleater-Kinney’s Corin Tucker – “Changes”

He has an incredible gift as a songwriter to empathize with the protesters and the kids. He was always telling their story. You know, “Rebel, Rebel,” “Changes”… this profound storyteller and narrator.

Anna Calvi – “Valentine’s Day”

I’ve been listening to his music since I was a little kid. For me as a singer, I learned a lot from him. He really manipulates his voice. If you hear different records, it’s almost like a different singer on each. He’s getting into a character — singing from the depths of that character. I guess that’s why he’s a good actor as well.

Public Service Broadcasting – “Warszawa”

J. Willgoose, Esq.: It’s, I think, the first track on side B of “Low” — one of the best albums ever made — and side B is just slightly out-there synth, mostly instrumental noodling. Which is just an extraordinary thing for one of the biggest pop acts of his time to do. Nobody does that kind of thing anymore. Who does that now? You don’t see Madonna doing that.

Macklemore – “Magic Dance” (From the “Labyrinth” Soundtrack)

“Magic Dance” is one of the weirdest songs ever made by anyone that’s ever made music. You see who knows this song. You judge them off of that. If they don’t know it, and they’ve never seen “Labyrinth,” [you’re] probably not going to invite them [to a party] next year. You put it on, you get a Soul Train line going, you see who can really shake it by the Christmas tree.

Blondie’s Chris Stein recalls the story behind this photo of Debbie Harry and David Bowie

©Chris Stein,Chris Stein/Negative, Rizzoli New York, 2014.
©Chris Stein/Negative, Rizzoli New York, 2014.

Rico Gagliano: David Bowie appears in your photos, or… I guess there’s only one?

Chris Stein: There’s only one. There can be only one!

Rico Gagliano: What do you remember of that shot? You were on tour with him at that point.

Chris Stein: Yeah, that was a big moment for us. That was really our first major tour. We were, you know, in New York. Somehow we got word that they wanted us to open up on the “Idiot” tour with Iggy. David was playing keyboards as a side-man, which was really, you know, an amazing sort of homage to Iggy from him.

…It was an amazing experience. I remember we played a show in New York at Max’s Kansas City, we got into our really shitty RV and drove overnight, probably left at three in the morning or something like that, and wound up early morning in… [to Debbie Harry] you think it was Toronto?

Debbie Harry: Montreal.

Chris Stein: Montreal? Staggered out of this RV, into the hall, and go up into our dressing rooms, and there’s Iggy and Bowie. They’re standing there waiting for us and saying, “Hi. Welcome to the tour!” That was just, you know, it was amazing. So I did a whole series of shots with Iggy and Debbie, and Iggy was very carefree about it. But I always felt Bowie, he was a little more controlling about what he put out, and what kind of pictures he had taken of himself.

TV on the Radio on the pluses and minuses of recording with Bowie

Rico Gagliano: One of the questions we ask everyone on this show is “If we met you at a dinner party, what question shouldn’t we ask?”

Kip Malone: I feel like if I answer that honestly I’m gonna sound like an ingrate. But maybe I need to sound like an ingrate.

Rico Gagliano: I feel like this is your great chance to sound like an ingrate.

Tunde Adebimpe: Go for it.

Rico Gagliano: And the fact that you acknowledge that means you’re gonna sound really cool.

Kip Malone: Well, we’ll see. Uh, we got to work with David Bowie.  And David Bowie is one of the most incredible pop writers and rock-n-rollers of our lifetime. Hands down, no question about it — totally inspiring dude.

Rico Gagliano: Boy, you really sound like an ingrate so far.

Kip Malone: A great privilege to work with that dude. A great privilege. And nothing I thought we’d ever get to do. Yet, by the end of 2007, I never wanted to be asked again what it was like to work with David Bowie [laughs]. It was like the only…

Tunde Adebimpe: It was the only thing people would ask.

Kip Malone: …Only thing people would ask. I started getting resentful.

Rico Gagliano: [Sarcastically] “That damned Bowie!” [Kip laughs.] “You’ve ruined my life, Bowie!”

Kip Malone: “Thanks a lot!”

Tunde Adebimpe: “Thanks for casting your glittery shadow all over this operation!”

Rico Gagliano: Well, I’m sure he’s listening right now and calling up your agents and destroying your careers.

Tunde Adebimpe: He’s already had [his song] removed from [our] album. He’s like, “Oh, you don’t want it? Fine.”

Baz Luhrmann on his life-changing Bowie experience

Baz Luhrmann: I went to this older kid’s house — and they were like teenagers, I mean they were twelve! — and I went downstairs. My father was upstairs, and the lights were out, and they were playing this guy singing. “This is Ground Control to Major Tom…”  It was Bowie, and that was a life-changing experience. I mean, I became Bowie obsessed.

Rico Gagliano: Do you think that’s where your eclecticism comes in? ‘Cause Bowie kind of reinvented himself with every album.

Baz Luhrmann: Yes. I actually think that’s a very, very good point. I think he changes… the idea that he is performing characters that were transformations of himself, yes. I think eclecticism and Bowie… yes, it probably did influence me.