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An A – Z guide to artists influenced by David Bowie

ByAmelia Abeyawardene

Feb 21, 2017

During his lifetime Bowie provided pioneering musical innovation that was to influence many artists across the decades. Here is the Student’s comprehensive guide to  artists and bands that have sought to emulate the star man:

is for ANNIE CLARKE (aka St. Vincent)

According to Clarke, “David Bowie’s mutating aesthetic and persona are as much an instrument as his voice or guitar. Sound and vision: hero, icon, alien.” Clarke’s angular, defined facial features give her a similar appearance to the androgynous, almost lizard-like visage of Bowie, which almost seemed to alter against different lighting. St Vincent has recently released a new line of signature guitars, naming the white one in honour of her hero, the Thin White Duke.


This isn’t quite contemporary, but these two colossal acts certainly drew inspiration from each other nonetheless! While Bowie covered ‘Across The Universe’ on Young Americans in 1975, the first line of The Beatles’ track ‘A Day in The Life’ is almost a direct lift from the lyrics of Bowie’s single ‘Young Americans’ – ‘I heard the news today oh boy!’

C is for CLAIRE BOUCHER (aka Grimes)

Grimes’ last album Art Angels undoubtedly emulates the glam rock style of Bowie’s Stardust days, creatively combining art, fashion and music in a whirlwind of electric guitars, synths and pop noise. As a producer, Grimes has the unique ability to craft her own sound and vision to establish her individuality. Always defying conventions and breaking boundaries in bizarre ways, one could definitely call Claire Boucher a true ‘rebel, rebel’ of recent years.


Although Death Grips haven’t directly drawn from David Bowie’s extensive discography, Bowie’s last album Blackstar was supposedly inspired by the experimental rap group.


Lana Del Rey’s last release Honeymoon featured a track called ‘Terrence Loves You’, which contains an interpolation of Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’. Like Bowie, Lizzy Grant uses a stage persona, although she describes it as ‘putting out music under a different name with a fully realised sound and texture’ rather than an outright persona.


Josh Tillman’s album I Love You, Honeybear appears to go back and forth between his own perspective and that of the character Father John Misty in a similar way to Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust.


Prior to Bowie’s death last year there were rumours that he might be collaborating of the virtual band’s next studio album. Damon Albarn has described Bowie as one of his idols throughout his musical career and has admitting to borrowing from his work on writing songs for Blur.


In a recent interview with The Skinny, Stina Tweeddale and Cat Myers quote David Bowie who once said that ‘you should always be just outside of your comfort zone when you’re creating stuff’  to describe the process of recording their latest album Babes Never Die.

is for IAIN COOK (from Chvrches)

Iain Cook, who plays synths and guitar in the Glaswegian electropop band Chvrches was deeply moved by the death of David Bowie and tweeted ‘My hero is gone. A beautiful and exceptional human. Rest well now’.

J is for JAY – Z

Unexpectedly, Jay-Z’s track ‘The Take Over’ features a Bowie sample from ‘Fame’, providing a funky beat for Nas to rap over.


I was recently listening to ‘Queen B**tch’ and noticed that it has lyrics that Brandon Flowers undoubtedly must have borrowed for ‘Mr Brightside’ – “and I’m calling a cab ‘cause my stomach feels small”. Flowers even admits to ripping a Bowie baseline for the hit single ‘All These Things That I’ve Done’.

is for LADY GAGA

Lady Gaga’s hit single ‘Just Dance’ was a direct tribute to Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’, the music video even features a lightning bolt painted across her face, just like the Aladdin Sane album cover. Although Lady Gaga’s tribute performance to the late star at the Grammy’s has been criticised by many for being over the top and in poor taste, it is clear that she has a strong personal connection with his belief that you should let your freak flag fly.

is for MOBY

The American DJ was good friends with Bowie throughout his life, and idolises his as “a demigod and a genius and the best musician who will ever live”. In 2002, they performed together as part of the Lincoln Garage Concert series on The Tonight Show.

N is for NIRVANA

In 1993, the Seattle based grunge band performed ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ live on MTV unplugged, introducing the track to a new younger audience.  In his private journals, Kurt Cobain ranked this particular Bowie album at #45 in his top 50 albums of all time.

is for OASIS

Former Oasis guitarist Noel Gallagher has been a lifelong Bowie fan, describing him as ‘quite fearless’ and always moving forwards with his art.


The American rapper’s 1997 single ‘Been Around The World’ features The Notorious B.I.G and Mase, and a slowed down sample from Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’. In the late 90s Bowie once criticised MTV for not providing a platform for up and coming black artists, highlighting that music should be able to overcome boundaries of genre and prejudice.

is for QUEEN

The first band to collaborate with Bowie on ‘Under Pressure’ , the song reached #1 on the UK singles chart becoming their second most successful hit after ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.


Both Bowie and Bryan Ferry were pioneers of the glam rock movement. Bowie’s influence can clearly be seen on the Roxy Music album These Foolish Things.

S is for SEU JORGE

The Brazilian musician provided the soundtrack for the Wes Anderson movie The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou which is composed of a collection of melodic David Bowie covers in Portuguese.


The Australian psych rock band’s last album Currents has been described as “experimental pop music that pushes artistic boundaries”  – clearly reminiscent of Bowie’s legacy of innovation.

is for U2

Bono claims that Bowie helped him find “doors into … other worlds”, and reacted to his death saying that “the sky is a lot darker here without the star man”.


Both John Cale from the Velvet Underground and David Bowie were closely associated with Lou Reed. While Bowie produced his groundbreaking album Transformer , Cale founded the Velvet Underground wirh Reed in 1964.

W is for WILCO

Following David Bowie’s death last year, the alternative rock band paid tribute to the late star performing an acoustic rendition of ‘Space Oddity’ at their show in Brooklyn.

is for XTC

slight role reversal – Bowie’s track ‘That’s Motivation’, from the Absolute Beginners soundtrack borrows a guitar motif from XTC’s ‘Shake You Donkey Up’.

Y is for YO LA TENGO

The American indie rock band has covered ‘Lust For Life’, a track that Iggy Pop collaborated on with Bowie.


As part of the BBC Electric Proms Festival in 2006, The Zutons performed a faithful, electrifying cover of ‘Suffragette City’ at the Roundhouse in London.

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