Musically, The Beatles influenced many artists, including many well-known artists. But who are some of those artists? And specifically, did the Beatles inspire David Bowie?
The Beatles were an early inspiration for David Bowie, specifically on his songs “Space Oddity” and “Star”. Bowie also covered The Beatles’ song “Across the Universe” (and John Lennon played and sang on it). And later, Lennon and Bowie collaborated on one of Bowie’s biggest hits of the 70s.
He loved the melodic hooks of The Beatles and incorporated their sonic experimentation in his sound. This is what David Bowie had to say when asked about the Beatles’ impact on his music:
“The Beatles were massively large in terms of their influence on contemporary interest at the time. They actually created modern music.”
Let’s examine if these interplays proved of any worth in Bowie’s musical catalog? Also, let’s take a look at some of the other influential artists he worked with.
24 April 1968. The Beatles new company Apple Records rejected David Bowie’s attempt to gain a recording contract, with the words: “The reason is that we don’t feel he’s what we’re looking for at the moment.” pic.twitter.com/OFeYu2JSQ0
— Prof Frank McDonough (@FXMC1957) April 24, 2021
What did The Beatles think of Bowie?
Along their musical journey, The Beatles made several fans. But one of their biggest admirers was the singer-songwriter David Bowie. The group was fans of Bowie, who they thought was a terrific musician and a hitmaker.
Although Bowie and The Beatles worked in the same circle, it took them some time to meet each other. In an interview, Tony Visconti (music producer) revealed that Bowie was initially worried about meeting John Lennon.
A popular entertainment magazine also mentioned that “before Bowie became The Starman, he had to overcome more than his fair share of adversity, including a knockback by The Beatles.”
The article mentioned that in the late 1960s, Bowie’s career was firmly in its infancy stage, whereas The Beatles were already a hot topic.
Bowie had just released his debut single as a teen and seemed to have a promising career. But every single released on his record failed monumentally, and so did the album.
Since the Beatles were already a big name, they certainly didn’t have time to check out every album flooding the industry.
However, on a fateful day, Bowie met Lennon, which eventually led to “great friendship”- Tony Visconti recalled speaking on a BBC Radio program.
The city might belong to The Beatles, but for one weekend in June 2022 Liverpool is all about David Bowie! We’re sure John wouldn’t mind 😎
— David Bowie World Fan Convention (@BowieConvention) July 30, 2021
Did John Lennon like David Bowie?
John Lennon and David Bowie were great friends, and Lennon considered Bowie like a “family member”.
Some fans may not know, but Bowie and Lennon collaborated on several occasions-most notably on Bowie’s 1975 super hit song “Fame”. For this particular song, Lennon lent his unforgettable lyrics and guitar playing.
The track became a major commercial success in North America. It landed No. 1 single on the US Billboard Hot 100 and the Canadian Singles Chart.
The staggering success of the track prompted Bowie to name Lennon as his “greatest mentor.”
In fact, on one of his tours in 1983 (after Lennon’s death), Bowie took the opportunity to give a heartfelt speech praising his mentor and friend.
Bowie and Lennon liked each other.
They shared a close bond. Additionally, whenever the duo got together, they were always assumed to be working together. And honestly, most of the time, they did.
But did the pair also co-write Imagine?
I was curious to find out, so I made sure to talk about it in my recent article. Also, find out the biggest hits by Bowie that were mistaken to be collaborations with Lennon.
Just click that link to read it on my site.
Sgt.Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Bandpic.twitter.com/qGb5H40lLX
— Hey Bulldog(photo bot) (@fab_four_b) March 17, 2022
What Beatles album was David Bowie’s favorite?
The Beatles’ breakthrough album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” was one of David Bowie’s favorite Beatles albums. In fact, he copied the backing vocal line from “Lovely Rita” for his Ziggy Stardust song “Star”.
The Beatles, particularly John Lennon, remained one of Bowie’s favorite artists throughout his life. He could endlessly listen to Lennon’s songs like:
- “Across the Universe”
- “This Boy”
- or George Harrison’s “Try Some, Buy Some”
Bowie looked at The Beatles as the band with acute wisdom. A group with eclectic artistry and an odyssey of catalog brimming with colorful characters.
And listening to The Beatles gave him an entirely unique perspective.
The singer had a keen eye for music’s ever-changing canvas. And as per Far Out Magazine, he saw the futuristic way music was heading.
The Beatles were familiar with this big bang in music, and they pioneered their contribution with unique albums that Bowie adored.
During the sessions from David Bowie’s 1975 album ‘Young Americans’, Bowie recorded a couple songs with John Lennon. “Fame” and the Beatles tune “Across the Universe”. #VinylTapCurrent pic.twitter.com/HwH1bLMPw9
— Jill Riley (@JillRileyRadio) December 8, 2020
Did David Bowie ever cover the Beatles?
Bowie covered The Beatles’ song “Across The Universe” on his Young Americans album, with John Lennon contributing (uncredited) vocals and guitar in the studio with him. He also covered the Beatles song “This Boy” during his 1972 world tour.
Unfortunately, there is not a good-quality recording of Bowie doing “This Boy” as he never recorded it in the studio. But low-quality live versions can be found on YouTube.
“This Boy” was a song primarily written by John Lennon early in his Beatles career.
Bowie was a chameleon when it came to covering the best of the rock and roll legends. Nobody could do it better than him. And while Bowie created tons of outstanding original music, he could also cover other artists with a really interesting twist.
In his extensive catalog of seminal works, Bowie proud himself to have covered a few of the best pieces of The Beatles. Out of all, “Across the Universe” is the most famous.
Across the Universe: Bowie recorded a version of The Beatles’ track with John Lennon for Young Americans. David explained:
“Across The Universe… was a flower power sort of thing John Lennon wrote. I always thought it was fabulous but very watery in the original, and I hammered the hell out of it. Not many people like it. I like it a lot, and I think I sing very well at the end of it.”
“People say I used John Lennon on the track, but let me tell you, no one uses John Lennon. John just came and played on it. He was lovely.”
Bowie was such a great artist with the ability to turn any song into his own.
But how good exactly was he at his guitar? To find out, I talked about it in a recent article. After all, he always surrounded himself with exceptional guitarists. But could he really play?
Just click that link to read it on my site.
obi-wan is currently listening to: space oddity by david bowie pic.twitter.com/wloIiHDP50
— what’s obi-wan listening to? (@obisspotify) March 19, 2022
How did The Beatles inspire Bowie’s Space Oddity?
Space Oddity was partly inspired by The Beatles’ inventive sounds, layered tracks, and extensive use of stereo sounds, with some sounds panned left and some panned right. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was likely the album that gave him those ideas.
The song was also partly inspired by the space travel culture in the late 60s. But most of the inspiration came from the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Bowie wrote the track “Space Oddity” as part of a promotional film “Love You till Tuesday” by Kenneth Pitt. The track was a tale about an astronaut Major Tom.
According to available information, Bowie sought most of the inspiration for this track from a Stanley Kubrick-directed movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Bowie reportedly began working on this Major Tom character six months after watching this movie.
“I found the film amazing. I was out of my gourd anyway, I was very stoned when I went to see it several times, and it was really a revelation to me. It got the song flowing.”
Bowie also admitted that The Beatles also inspired parts of the track. Thematically, he tried dealing with alienation and isolation.
David reiterated that most people think that the track was written about the moon landing without knowing that the original inspiration for the song was Kubrick’s film.
David Bowie was a famous singer-songwriter who inspired millions of fans and new talent. But when it came to finding his inspiration, Bowie was influenced musically by a wide variety of artists, including The Beatles.
The Beatles remain influential in all his seminal works- John Lennon specifically. Although Bowie and Lennon collaborated only on a few occasions, their friendship was striking.
As early as the 1960s, Bowie sounded like The Beatles- Tony Visconti. Their biggest hit was Fame,” for which Lennon gave his unforgettable lyrics.
Sadly, Lennon’s death brought the end of the relationship. But as per many fans, Lennon’s death may have ended their bond, but indeed not the impact Lennon had on Bowie’s life.
Image by Tommaso Tabacchi from Pixabay and Image by Willgard Krause from Pixabay