The Beatles FAQ

Fun stuff about the Fab Four. Linked to The Beatles Teaching Pack

Monday, 5 June 2017

Did Bowie cover any Beatles songs?

In 1968 the then (mostly) unknown David Bowie tried to sing with the Beatles record label, Apple. At that time The Beatles had a policy of only signing artists they all agreed on - and at that time they barely agreed that the sun came up in the morning. After a long period without a decision Bowie gave up.  

Englishmen in New York

Six years later, John Lennon was living in New York, where David Bowie was recording 'white soul' album Young Americans.  They met Lennon at a party where they apparently drew caricatures of each other and drank cognac.

Encouraged by this meeting, and keen to get a Beatle on his new album - Bowie phoned Lennon to tell him that he was recording a version of Across the Universe. Lennon agreed to come to the studio play acoustic guitar. The session was a success and Lennon later said he liked Bowie's  version better than his original recording with The Beatles on Let It Be.  


They returned to the studio for a jamming sessions, in which guitarist Carlos Alomar played a riff he had intended for Bowie cover of the R & B song Footstompin. Bowie and Lennon then developed this into a new song in which Lennon sang 'aim' over the Alomar guitar. 

Bowie then rewrote the lyric, changing 'aim' to 'fame'. The resulting single was Bowie's most successful in the US, reaching the Top Ten for the first time.  

Influence of Beatles on Bowie

Pete Doggett has unearthed some interesting connections. 

I was struck ... by the influence the Beatles had on Bowie's work in the 70s. Some of that influence is obvious - the McCartney-inspired piano styling of 'Oh! You Pretty Things', for example. As early as 1965, in an obscure song entitled 'That's Where My Heart Is', Bowie sounded as if he was learning how to write songs by listening to With The Beatles

Other musical links between Bowie and the Beatles were more surprising {like the} influence on 'Blackout' from the 'Heroes' LP. In more recent times Bowie  covered George Harrison's 'Try Some, Buy Some', claiming that he hadn't realised that George had written the song.
More here

Taken from The Beatles Teaching Pack (£3.99) 

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