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People stared in Jagger’s eyes…
People stared in Jagger’s eyes…
People stared in Jagger’s eyes…
“Sympathy for the Devil”
Not sure how Keith gets away with singing, “Little T&A” but that song has been in my head ever since…
At 80, Mick still moves like Jagger
The stage was set!
People stared in Jagger’s eyes…

David Bowie and the Rolling Stones

I’m still in a state of awe from seeing The Rolling Stones in Massachusetts last week (read more HERE). So, I’m taking a moment to briefly reflect on how the Stones influenced Bowie and vice versa.

Though Bowie had been performing since the early 60s, The Rolling Stones emerged as superstars a few years earlier than Bowie. During his 1964 television appearance on behalf of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Long Haired Men (a fake group), he was asked if he grew his hair out because of the Stones. Though he denied it, he was clearly a fan and saw the band, and Mick Jagger in particular, as occupying a space he himself wanted to fill.

In 1972, Bowie wrote “All the Young Dudes” which contained the line, “My brother’s back at home with his Beatles and his Stones; we never got it off on that revolution stuff,” as if The Rolling Stones (and the Beatles) were already yesterday’s news. But in short time Bowie began hanging around both Mick Jagger and John Lennon, seeming to himself be in awe. Angie Bowie would later claim to have found Bowie and Mick Jagger naked in bed together, speculating on a talk show that they had had sex, though she walked the claim back a little in her book Backstage Passes by conceding that at the time people would often end up in bed together to sleep after long nights of partying. She also claimed that Jagger made a pass at her and that the Stones’ song, “Angie” might have been inspired by her, or at least her name.

Bowie chronicler Nicholas Pegg included in his Complete David Bowie that the Stones’ “Dancing with Mr. D” is rumored to be about Bowie (I don’t see it).

Bowie’s 1974 album Aladdin Sane contains two Stones-related songs. “Drive In Saturday” includes the lines, “We can try to get it on like once before; when people stared in Jagger’s eyes and scored,” again implying that Mick Jagger was already a relic. Again, that was 50 years ago— and I just saw the Stones last week.

Bowie also covered “Let’s Spend the Night Together,” which Angie speculated was less honoring the Stones than declaring dominance over them. I don’t know if that claim has any merit, but it does seem to me that Bowie influenced Jagger’s style in the early 70s, as he took on a more androgynous appearance.

Bowie was involved in the creation of the Stones’ song, “It’s Only Rock ‘N’ Roll,” which Pegg reports emerged out of a jam session in which Bowie participated (I’ve posted a YouTube recording of an early version that includes Bowie HERE).

As far as I can tell, Bowie’s final song that had anything directly to do with The Rolling Stones was his 1985 hit duet with Mick Jagger of “Dancing in the Street,” which was popular at the time but not especially well regarded today.

Jagger reflected wistfully about his relationship with Bowie after Bowie died and lamented that the two had grown apart (I get the sense more because their lives had taken them in different directions than because of a falling out). He wrote a reflection that appeared in Rolling Stone and you can link to HERE (but its paywalled).

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The Divine Symmetry series compares Bowie songs to other songs with some sort of similarity, intentional or otherwise. The term is borrowed from Bowie’s song, “Quicksand.”

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