10 Amazing Guitar Works In David Bowie’s Career

10 Amazing Guitar Works In David Bowie’s Career | I Love Classic Rock Videos

David Bowie - Nacho Video / Youtube

David Bowie was a musical hero with art in his soul. He combined different elements to challenge and express himself. Jimmy Page once said Bowie was “just terrific” at bringing together various influences creatively. Here’s a look at some of Bowie’s best riffs that made his songs unforgettable:

Ziggy Stardust

“Ziggy Stardust” is iconic in Bowie’s discography. The opening riff immediately grabs attention with its energetic vibes, setting the stage for a deep dive into Bowie’s alter ego’s epic saga. Introduced in “Moonage Daydream,” Ziggy Stardust the character is vividly personified through this audacious riff, encapsulating Bowie’s portrayal as a flamboyant alien rock star. The song, laden with both acoustic warmth and electric edge, under Mick Ronson’s gifted hands, essentially embodies the essence of the entire album, “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars,” by defining Bowie’s rock sensibilities with its complex yet inviting layers.

Rebel Rebel

“Rebel Rebel” marks Bowie’s climactic farewell to his glam rock persona, completely shaping the song’s identity single-handedly. Bowie, using a simple yet captivating D, E, and A progression, and with Alan Parker’s addition of descending notes, aimed to mirror The Rolling Stones’ signature sound. This riff stands as a masterful act of musical provocation and invitation, mixing straightforwardness with an underlying complexity. It’s a compelling send-off from glam rock, leaving a lasting impression that even dwarfs the Stones’ own “Satisfaction” in its enduring appeal and ability to ignite a listener’s imagination and urge to groove.

Cat People (Putting Out Fire)

The original rendition of “Cat People (Putting Out Fire)” is a stark, slowly evolving piece built around two chords, tailored for the eponymous 1982 film that explored dark and mature themes. This atmospheric track captures a gothic essence, reflective of the movie’s exploration of societal and personal tumult. However, it was the song’s reworking that introduced a more rock-oriented, energetic texture, courtesy of blues legend Stevie Ray Vaughan. Vaughan’s involvement brought a sought-after vibrancy to the track, with a performance filled with stirring riffs that contrast with the song’s initially restrained mood, showcasing Bowie’s ability to transcend musical styles seamlessly.

The Jean Genie

Bowie once described “The Jean Genie” as a sort of audio alchemy that draws heavily on Americana influences, with a character inspired by Iggy Pop and a clever twist on the name “Jean Ganet.” This melting pot approach is characteristic of Bowie’s genius in blending diverse elements to create innovative musical narratives. The riff, executed with precision by Mick Ronson, initially offers a lightweight entry into the song before it evolves, integrating various musical components into something that feels simultaneously groovy and potent, welcoming yet intensely captivating.


“Heroes,” a song that resonates deeply with many, exemplifies Bowie’s ability to capture grand emotions. The track stands out for its amalgamation of synthesizers and guitar work, crafting a soundscape that propels the song’s heartfelt lyrics into a realm of sonic splendor. Bowie’s confidence in his band shines through, as he remarked on the musicianship bringing the composition to life without a doubt over the notes. The result is a moving anthem that, through its musical and lyrical poignancy, has become synonymous with overcoming adversity and achieving the extraordinary.

Let’s Dance

The infectious groove of “Let’s Dance” owes its existence to the genius collaboration between Bowie and Nile Rodgers. Rodgers, rejuvenating Bowie’s initial demo, introduced a vigorous riff played brilliantly by Stevie Ray Vaughan, defining the song’s sound. This transformation turned “Let’s Dance” into a smashing hit, characterized by its danceable rhythm and sharp, compelling lead guitar that invites listeners to groove along with every note.

Suffragette City

From the album “Ziggy Stardust,” “Suffragette City” emerges as a signal of Bowie’s rock prowess. This track is energized by Mick Ronson’s fierce guitar playing, described vividly by drummer Woody Woodmansey as “balls to the wall.” The riff, urgent and powerful, encapsulates the song’s dynamic spirit, providing a high-octane experience that reflects the essence of rock and roll in Bowie’s signature style.

Sound and Vision

In “Sound and Vision,” Carlos Alomar’s guitar work plays a pivotal role, molding the track’s atmosphere alongside Bowie’s vision. Alomar, with his inventive groove, complements the song’s melancholic lyrics, bringing a contrasting brightness to its sad undertones. Producer Tony Visconti highlighted the creative force behind the guitar arrangements, underscoring the collaborative effort that resulted in this introspective yet musically vibrant piece.

Golden Years

Returning with “Golden Years,” Carlos Alomar’s sunny riff gives this song its irresistible appeal. The riff, intertwined with Bowie’s distinctive vocals, propels “Golden Years” into the spotlight as a high point in Bowie’s career. The track, with its luminous groove, beckons listeners into a world of optimism and rhythmic delight, capturing the essence of what made Bowie a transformative figure in the music landscape.

Moonage Daydream

Ken Scott admired how Mick Ronson played “exactly what was needed” in “Moonage Daydream”. This magnificent addition to Ziggy Stardust makes a powerful impression, representing Bowie’s daring and colourful persona at the time. The bold riff can leave an unforgettable trace, much like a glittery bruise. Across the whole album, Ronson’s sound stands strong, but one moment stands out in this song – the solo arriving at 3:12. Following Bowie’s memorable line “Freak out. Far out,” Ronson unleashes a fierce ‘alien life form’ from his guitar. This unforgettable solo would not have had the same impact without the explosive opening riff.