Bowie Remembered: 25 Covers that Celebrate the Iconic Originals

David Bowie is arguably one of the most influential artists of our lifetime. He infused his music with fantasy and fashion to create a style all his own—and that style was always changing. His legacy was felt years before his passing, and his influence spans genres, generations and location, including several artists deep-rooted in New York State. NYS Music took a moment to not only honor the iconic musician, but to also revisit artists who have covered his original music.

Umphrey’s McGee with STS9 – “Let’s Dance”

During their encore from Northerly Island in Chicago on Aug. 17, 2013, Umphrey’s McGee invited STS9 on stage for this knock out rendition of Bowie’s most successful hit to date:


Beck – “Sound and Vision”

With a little help from his father, legendary arranger David Campbell, folk artist Beck went big on this 1977 Bowie tune. The evening was sponsored by Lincoln Motor Company and was part of their “Hello, Again” campaign, which used Beck’s version of “Sound and Vision” for its campaign theme song:


Starset – “Space Oddity”

Alternative rockers Starset showed up big in December 2014 at WQLZ’s aQustic Christmas Jam. The Columbus, OH, natives turned out a stunning rendition of Bowie’s “Space Oddity”:


moe. – “Ziggy Stardust”

What could be better than Halloween and Star Wars? Halloween, Star Wars and Bowie! Jam rockers moe. treated the crowd at their 2015 Halloween show to a little Bowie. Makes you wonder what a Bowie song sung by C-3PO would really sound like:


Aqueous – “Fame”

Buffalo groove rockers Aqueous cover highly produced, multi-layered tracks with amazing accuracy. In this rendition of “Fame” at the 2014 Gathering at Chaffee’s, they surprise the crowd as they flow into the classic Bowie tune. They hit the mark at about three minutes, but enjoy the jam before they get there. You won’t be disappointed:


The Cure ­– “Young Americans”

The Cure carry their own legacy in the world of rock, but the Bowie influence is deep with these fellow Brits. They contributed their version of Bowie’s song “Young Americans” for a 1993 compilation for London’s 104.9XFM. The song later reappeared on their 2004 release Join the Dots: B-Sides & Rarities 1978-2001:


Placebo – “Five Years”

Slightly known fact: David Bowie was a big fan of alternative rock band Placebo; he even performed with them on several occasions. In this clip, Brian Molko of Placebo quickens the pace on this acoustic version of “Five Years” to create a slightly altered but beautiful version of the Bowie tune from The Fall and Rise of Ziggy Stardust and the Spider from Mars:


Def Leppard – “Ziggy Stardust”

Def Leppard turned up for an acoustic set in a Sheffield England pub back in 1996. They encored with an incredible version of “Ziggy Stardust”:


Dr. Dre – “Fame”

Bowie’s influence isn’t limited to genres: famed producer and headphone guru Dr. Dre put his own twist on a Bowie tune. This version was featured on the 1996 album Dr. Dre Presents: The Aftermath and features Jheryl Lockhart, King Tee and RC along with Dr. Dre and Chris “The Glove” Taylor. Youtuber Mychael Helmz edited some fashion video footage and credited a piece good enough to have been the song’s official video:


Natalie Merchant – “Space Oddity”

The former lead singer for the 10,000 Maniacs enjoyed a solo career she probably never dreamed of growing up in the small town of Jamestown, NY. Her unique vocal style adds drama to this haunting rendition of Bowie’s “Space Oddity” during a performance on June 12, 1999:


 Lucero -“Modern Love”

Hailing from Memphis, TN, Lucero is a five-piece band that mixes punk rock and country, creating a sound that is distinctly all their own. They showed up to the AV Club and banged out their own version of this Bowie pop classic with the addition of a saxophone solo:

James – “China Girl”

A lot of artists show up to their BBC Sessions with covers in hand. Manchester, England, natives James were no different; they rocked out their version of one of the three top 10 singles from Bowie’s 1983 album Let’s Dance:


Nirvana – “The Man that Sold the World”

Nirvana brought new life to this song during their 1993 performance on MTV Unplugged. They also exposed Bowie’s music to a host of new listeners. The song would garner major market radio play, as well as be featured on both the released album and video of the performance:


Foo Fighters – “Under Pressure”

When the Foo Fighters showed up in Mendig, Germany, during June 2015 to play the “Rock am Ring,” they played a set list infused with music they felt was the most influential to their journey as musicians. On the list was this David Bowie/Queen collaboration:

Smashing Pumpkins “Space Oddity”

Smashing Pumpkin’s frontman Billy Corgan says in this video for San Diego’s ROCK 105.3 that he appreciates the song more as an artist covering it, than he ever did as a fan listening to it. The Pumpkins put their own brand of alt-rock styling on this version recorded on June 19, 2012:


 Fall Out Boy – “Life on Mars?”

FOB guitarist and singer Patrick Stump cites Bowie as his favorite musician of all time. In April 2013, he sat down to record an acoustic session for BBC One. He shows off his vocal range and passion for his idol in this lovely version of “Life on Mars?”:


Warpaint – “Ashes to Ashes”

Los Angeles-based indie-rock band Warpaint has been known for their dream-pop sound since they formed in 2004. The all-female quartet set a mellow groove at the BBC Music Tepee in 2014 with their ethereal version of this Bowie classic:


Atrocity – “Let’s Dance”

German metal band Atrocity brings a whole different level to Bowie’s No. 1 hit, and the song was featured as part of the Hard Rock Covers album series:


Duran Duran – “Fame”

British ’80s pop icons Duran Duran  followed Bowie’s model of fashion, reinvention and style better than almost anyone. Bassist John Taylor has even cited Ziggy Stardust as the “perfect album.” Their version of “Fame” was a beloved B-side before landing on their 2003 box set Singles 1981-1985:


Scott Weiland and the Wildabouts – “The Jean Genie”

Scott Weiland was never quiet about his fanboy obsession with Bowie. Shortly before Weiland’s death, he and the Wildabouts stopped at the Strombo Show where they did an acoustic performance of “The Jean Genie”:


Second Child – “Young Americans”

The future folk band based out of NYC and Philly, Second Child does a mixture of electric and acoustic jams. This version of “Young Americans” is so groovy that even some neighborhood kids get in on the dancing action:


Commander Chris Hadfield – “Space Oddity”

In May of 2013, Canadian astronaut Commander Chris Hadfield made musical history when he made this video on the International Space Station, making it the first video ever created in space. The video is nearing 30 million views on YouTube:


The Get Up Kids – “Suffragette City”

The Get Up Kids were major players in the ’90s emo-rock scene. They paid tribute to Bowie with a fairly non-emo version of Bowie’s “Suffragette City”:


Phish – “Life on Mars?”

Shortly after debuting their version of “Life on Mars?” in 1995, Phish would later play the song at the Clifford Ball. The seven-disc box set celebrating the festival was more than a decade old in March of 2009:


Seu Jorge – “Rebel Rebel”

Brazilian musician Seu Jorge’s Bowie covers came to prominence when they were featured on the soundtrack to Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. Jorge translated the Bowie tunes into Portuguese. His version of “Rebel Rebel” from Diamond Dogs sounds romantic and whimsical in Jorge’s hands:


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