In 2016, the world lost a luminary of music when David Bowie passed away at the age of 69. In celebration of his life and work, the Howard Stern Channels are proud to present a one-of-a-kind musical tribute hosted by his longtime producer Tony Visconti and featuring 25 unique artists interpreting the innovative and timeless music of David Bowie.
“It was my pleasure to make about half of his albums with him and what was even better was that he was my personal friend as well,” Visconti said of his relationship with Bowie. “And I’m glad we can share these fantastic interpretations of his songs. There is no end to how they can be interpreted.”
The star-studded list of musicians who joined Howard in paying tribute to the legendary artist includes rock icons in their own right ranging from Peter Frampton, who grew up with David, to William Patrick Corgan, who Bowie himself asked to perform at his 50th birthday party.
“This project is very ambitious because David Bowie songs are not easy to play and sing for technical reasons,” Visconti added. “But everyone who participated in this rose to the occasion.”
See all of the artists and which songs they reinterpreted in the full listening guide (below).
Peter Frampton – “Rebel Rebel” (Live)
Stern Show guest Peter Frampton kicks off the Howard Stern Tribute to David Bowie with a live performance of “Rebel Rebel,” a song off of the 1974 album “Diamond Dogs.” Frampton and Bowie first became friends while students at Bromley Technical High School. Peter’s father was also David’s art teacher growing up.
"Dave was a lifelong friend and mentor," Frampton said of Bowie's influence on him. "We first met when I was 12 at school. If it weren’t for him asking me to record and tour with him on the 'Glass Spider Tour,' I know my life would be totally different. He re-introduced me around the world as the guitar player. What a gift! Once again, Thanks Dave. I miss you!”
When he visited the Stern Show in 2016, Frampton told Howard about one of the first memories he has of David Bowie, seeing him performing with his band the Conrads. "I didn't know greatness at that point apart from the fact that when I went to the school on a weekend before I was actually going to the school, my father had to go to this event, and it was this outdoor fair kind of thing, and David was playing sax and singing with the Conrads on the school steps, and I said, 'He's doing what I want to do.'"
Peter Frampton's Grammy-winning instrumental album "Fingerprints" is available now on vinyl for the first time. For ticket and tour date information visit frampton.com and follow Peter on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Michael Penn – “After All”
Audiences might best know singer-songwriter Michael Penn for his Top 20 hit “No Myth" as well as for the scores he composed for films such as “Boogie Nights,” “The Last Kiss,” and “Sunshine Cleaning.” Michael also wrote much of the original music heard on HBO’s “Girls.”
Penn’s wife, fellow songwriter Aimee Mann, sings backing vocals on his cover of Bowie’s “After All.” He explained why he decided on recording this rendition despite some built-in challenges.
“A lot of his songs are written from the perspective of one of many very specific characters he's developed and that makes it tough (at least for me) to take it on,” Michael said. “But this song is one that has stuck with me over the decades. The arrangement on ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ is kind of goofy, but I always thought the song was really emotional underneath, like the darkest lullaby in the world. After Bowie passed away I was happy to read that in his last few years he had found faith in, and a relationship to a higher power. I think this song is Bowie, as a younger man, grappling with a lack of faith.”
Greta Van Fleet – “The Jean Genie”
Formed in Frankenmuth, Mich., in 2012, Greta Van Fleet’s sound is often compared to Led Zeppelin’s, including by Howard Stern himself. The band, made up by the Kiszka brothers Josh, Sam, and Jake as well as drummer Danny Wagner, has yet to release their debut album but have put out two EP’s including “From the Fires” which debuted at No. 1 on the Hard Rock Albums chart. After Howard played Greta Van Fleet’s track “Highway Tune” on the Stern Show in 2017, the band saw the song reach No. 1 on the Mainstream Rock charts.
Greta Van Fleet’s choice to cover “The Jean Genie” had everything to do with the song’s roots in American Blues. “It was an honor to be able to cover ‘Jean Genie,’” lead guitarist Jake Kiszka said. “The Blues sensibilities in that song are something the whole band could connect with.”
“We tried to capture the haphazard beauty of the original recording,” bass and keyboard player Sam Kiszka added. “The musicians on that recording valued the feel of the track rather than the actual technicalities of what they were playing. To me, that’s what makes it so beautiful. Trying to capture the flavor of that big rock and roll is what we, as Greta Van Fleet, love to do. So, that made recording this song even more fun.”
Playing harmonica alongside the boys on the track is the Kiszkas’ father, who they point to as being as much of a musical influence in their lives as Bowie. “It was the Blues, the likes of which our father raised us on,” lead singer Josh explained. “In this instance, we thought it essentially appropriate to incorporate one of our own rock and roll idols, who accompanied us on the harmonica during the recording of the track. It was a privilege to sing alongside David and my own father in the making of a ‘Jean Genie’ reprise.”
Kristeen Young – “Moonage Daydream”
St. Louis native and Stern Show superfan Kristeen Young is a singer-songwriter and pianist who has performed alongside several big name musicians, including Morrissey, Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl, and even David Bowie himself. Kristeen appeared on Bowie’s 2002 album “Heathen” and duetted with him on the song “Saviour” off her 2003 album “Breasticles.”
During the outro of her cover of “Moonage Daydream,” which she and producer Tony Visconti recorded in the Stern Show studio, Kristeen can be heard chanting the chorus of “Saviour” in Latin, something she says she incorporated into the track "because it is the language of the dead.”
"I remember he liked shockingly strong coffee and anchovies on his pizza, just like me," Kristeen said of what she learned while recording "Heathen" with David. "Also, like me, he enjoyed diving deep into a conversation and eviscerating the topic … to a point where most people would have jumped off that obsessive, investigative train 10 stops ago."
"I miss him and I miss the encouragement and guidance he would give me from time to time when he would surface in my life," she added.
Britt Daniel – “Never Let Me Down”
Spoon lead singer Britt Daniel actually recorded his rendition of “Never Let Me Down” on the night David Bowie died after he learned of the legendary artist’s passing.
“I woke up in the middle of the night, the night Bowie died,” Britt explained. “I glanced at my phone and saw the headline, felt the shock, woke all the way up, and couldn’t go back to sleep. I sat up in bed listening to songs, watching videos, thinking about all the times I’d spent with his music.”
Eventually he came across David’s song “Never Let Me Down” which hit him with a particular rush of emotion. “At around five or six in the morning I realized I wasn’t gonna be getting any more sleep,” Britt said. “I had the urge to do something right then to get some of the emotion out. So I went to the little studio I have at my house and made this recording as the sun was coming up.”
Durand Jones & the Indications – “Young Americans”
Originally a saxophonist, Durand Jones says he never expected to become the lead singer of a band. But that is indeed the role he now takes on as the frontman for one of the newest music acts featured in the Howard Stern Tribute to David Bowie. Durand Jones & the Indications released their self-titled debut album in 2016 after recording it on a shoestring budget of $452.11 (they kept receipts) in an Indiana basement. Their efforts paid off, with the LP earning much critical praise and impressive sales.
Jones revealed why they wanted to cover "Young Americans" for this special. “The ‘Young Americans’ album was a love letter to black American music, and in turn we chose the title track as a thank you to Bowie,” he explained. “The soaring background vocals, the squawking saxophone, even that slightly out of tune guitar break – all ingredients that could just as easily be found on our favorite soul 45s. This cover is our way of bringing an iconic song home to its true roots."
Durand Jones & the Indications' deluxe version of their self-titled debut album is out March 16. For more info and upcoming tour dates click here.
Daryl Hall – “Fame”
As one half of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-inducted duo Hall & Oates, Daryl Hall knows a thing or two about fame. He lends his signature musical stylings to one of Bowie’s best known hits for the Howard 101 special and said David’s words certainly ring true to his own experiences in the limelight.
"’Fame’ has always been one of my favorite David Bowie songs. It's certainly his funkiest. And, I sure do agree with the lyrics!" Hall said.
A careful listen to Daryl’s rendition of “Fame” will reveal a special message he snuck into the song for the Stern Show’s executive producer Gary Dell’Abate. Towards the end of the song, he can be heard singing, “…we’re all guilty … even you Baba Booey!”
Corey Taylor – “Fashion”
The lead singer and lyricist of the band Slipknot, Corey Taylor considers the music of David Bowie to be a genre in and of itself. With that in consideration, he talked a bit about the prudence necessary in order for any artist to cover the Thin White Duke.
“I’ve been a Bowie fan since I could walk,” Corey said. “He is so iconic, he’s basically his own genre now. I chose ‘Fashion’ because when I first heard it, I was blown away by how much groove was in it and the attitude. This is my spin. It’ll never touch the original, but I hope you all like it.”
The Struts – “Suffragette City”
Formed in Derbyshire, England, just under 250 kilometers from Bowie’s birthplace of Brixton, the Struts have themselves been described as “glam-rock” by Rolling Stone. Lead singer Luke Spiller has already treated fans to his rendering of David Bowie, performing “Under Pressure” on several stops of the Struts' tour with the Foo Fighters. The band now takes on “Suffragette City,” off of David’s 1972 album “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.”
“This song is taken from one of the most important albums ever made and, like him, it will never go away,” the band said in a statement released for the Howard Stern Tribute to David Bowie.
Lisa Loeb – “All the Young Dudes”
Hailing from Bethesda, Md., Lisa Loeb became a household name in an instant with her platinum-selling No. 1 song “Stay (I Missed You),” the first No. 1 single for an artist without a recording contract.
“I’ve been kind of obsessed with David Bowie since I was a young teen – his music, his voice, his art, his style, his eyes,” Loeb said. “I used to sit with my Bowie music book and pour over the songs until the pages were falling out.”
Her successes as a singer-songwriter would allow Lisa the chance to actually meet Bowie while they were both in London at the same time. “I was there receiving a Brit Award. He was working at AIR Studios and George Martin invited us to go crash his session,” she explained.
For the tribute, Lisa is taking on Mott the Hoople’s “All the Young Dudes,” a song written and produced by Bowie and later performed live by him. However, Lisa said she’s long been singing Bowie’s music.
“I’ve always covered Bowie, from ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide’ in high school, solo with my electric guitar at the all-girls school I attended in Dallas, ‘Ziggy Stardust’ with my high school cover band, to ‘Five Years’ in college, and ‘Soul Love’ with Dweezil Zappa,” Lisa said. “It’s always been a dream to record ‘All the Young Dudes’ and I’m so excited I had the opportunity to do it, motivated by this Bowie compilation.”
SUN KIL MOON (FEAT. PETRA HADEN) – “JOHN, I’M ONLY DANCING”
According to Bowie’s longtime producer Tony Visconti, Sun Kil Moon was one of David’s favorite new artists to listen to before he passed away. Known for his haunting, baritone style of vocals, Sun Kil Moon is the primary recording moniker of vocalist and guitarist Mark Kozelek.
Mark’s unique practice for recording his original music involves a first round in the studio where he improvises onto a track. He then builds onto what comes out of those sessions and turns them into complete songs.
Performing on Kozelek’s cover of “John, I’m Only Dancing” is violinist Petra Haden.
To learn more about Sun Kil Moon visit sunkilmoon.com.
Umphrey’s McGee (feat. Huey Lewis and Jeff Coffin) – “Let’s Dance”
American rock band Umphrey’s McGee has experimented with many musical styles since forming in 1997: metal, funk, jazz, blues, reggae, and even the skilled percussions of Richard Christy. The Stern Show staffer played drums with the band back in 2015, performing Metallica’s “…And Justice For All.”
Featured on their rendition of “Let’s Dance” is Huey Lewis (of Huey Lewis and the News fame) who provides vocals as well as a harmonica solo on the track. Also featured is saxophonist Jeff Coffin of the Dave Matthews Band who plays all of the horns on the Bowie cover.
"’Let's Dance’ is the quintessential ‘80s Bowie sound ... who better to capture that magic than husky vocalist Huey Lewis?" said Umphrey’s McGee guitarist Jake Cinninger.
Jade Bird – “Quicksand”
Up-and-coming British singer-songwriter Jade Bird provided a cover of one of Bowie's most stripped-down songs in “Quicksand." Off his 1971 album “Hunky Dory," the impeccably arranged track features little more than Bowie’s emotionally charged voice and his acoustic guitar.
Despite being born nearly three years after Bowie recorded “Quicksand,” Jade’s career is already off to a fantastic start. The 20-year-old London native dropped her debut album last July, “Something American,” to rave reviews. Indeed she has been praised by everyone from Sir Elton John to Rolling Stone, which labeled her a new country artist to watch in 2017.
“David Bowie is an artist that I absolutely admire; every album is a new era and has shown me the importance of always evolving,” Jade said. “It was truly great to dissect ‘Quicksand,’ there was so much opportunity to really reinvent the melody whilst keeping it honest, as Bowie always did.”
Biffy Clyro – “Modern Love”
Scottish rock trio Biffy Clyro has cranked out a heavy metal-influenced version of one of Bowie’s purest pop songs, “Modern Love.”
The quintessentially ‘80s tune features Stevie Ray Vaughn on guitar, is co-produced by Chic's Nile Rogers, and is also the opening track off “Let’s Dance,” Bowie’s most commercially successful album, which sold around 7 million copies and spent a good deal of time atop the U.K. charts.
No one can compete with numbers like Bowie’s, but Biffy Clyro are no stranger to topping overseas charts themselves. As of 2016, the band has spent 155 weeks in the top 75 of the U.K. Album Charts, including two weeks at No. 1. They have also headlined just about every major European festival on the circuit. Still, few things can prepare a band to take on this kind of challenge.
“Being asked to cover David Bowie is like being asked to have sex with a lion: an intimidating challenge but, fuck it, you got to give it a go!” the band’s lead singer Simon Neil explained.
Simon and his Biffy Clyro bandmates James and Ben Johnston count metal and progressive rock acts like Metallica and Rush among their influences, but they didn’t let their band’s typically heavy sound dictate which Bowie song they would cover. In fact, they did just the opposite. “There are so many incredible songs to choose from but we wanted to choose a classic that sounded least like our band,” Simon explained. “We went for ‘Modern Love,’ put it through our filter and biffified it. I hope David would have been proud.”
Todd Rundgren – “Life on Mars?”
Prolific singer, songwriter, and record producer Todd Rundgren throws his hat into the ring with a cover of one of Bowie’s most renowned masterpieces, “Life on Mars?”
“Life on Mars?” is considered one of the greatest song of the 1970s these days, but the Bowie classic might never have come to be if not for Frank Sinatra and Paul Anka. It started in the late ‘60s, after Bowie wrote “Even a Fool Learns to Love” using music from a French song called “Comme d’habitude. That version was never released but Anka soon bought the rights to the French version of the song, eventually resulting in the ubiquitous Sinatra hit “My Way.” Bowie was reportedly annoyed after hearing Sinatra’s version, however, so he responded by writing what he considered to be a parody of "My Way" — "Life on Mars?"
Rundgren, of course, has penned several big hits of his own, including “Hello It’s Me” and “Can We Still Be Friends.” Additionally, the Philadelphia native has produced or engineered some of the biggest acts in rock ‘n’ roll, like Cheap Trick, Bad Religion, Badfindger, New York Dolls, Grand Funk Railroad, the Band, and Hall & Oates, as well as one of the best-selling albums ever in Meat Loaf’s “Bat Out of Hell.”
Bones – “I’m Afraid of Americans”
Co-written by Bowie and Brian Eno, “I’m Afraid of Americans” first appeared on the soundtrack to Paul Verhoeven’s stripper saga “Showgirls” before later making its way onto “Earthling,” Bowie’s 20th studio album. However, the most enduring version of the song may be the one remixed by the industrial band Nine Inch Nails, complete with frontman Trent Reznor singing backup vocals.
It's perhaps fitting then that the London-based duo Bones—which features industrial electronic drum and bass in their live act and has drawn comparisons to Reznor in recent reviews—recorded a cover of “I’m Afraid of Americans” for the Howard Stern tribute to the late music legend.
“As a British band who has just moved over to the U.S.A., ‘I'm Afraid of Americans’ was the perfect track for us to cover and one of our favorite Bowie tracks—the pressure was totally on,” explained Rosie Bones, the band’s lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist. “So we did our best to insert a little slice of us nasty Brits into the song in hopes that we both did the track justice and made it our own all at the same time.”
Rosie further revealed she and guitarist Carmen Vandenberg—the other half of Bones—stepped outside their comfort zone to create the cover, but she said that's was the whole point. “There are legends and then there is Bowie. We love how he always said that it’s when you’re a couple of steps out of your comfort zone, that's when the most exciting stuff happens,” she said, referencing a famous Bowie quote extolling the virtues of uncomfortably difficult challenges. “Obviously, when covering a Bowie song, you are immediately out of your comfort zone because you just want to do him and it justice.”
Bones, which has been featured on “Orange Is the New Black” and more recently collaborated with Jeff Beck, recently wrapped a U.S. tour with Highly Suspect. Check out their Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube pages here.
Dawes – “Oh! You Pretty Things”
Formed in Los Angeles in 2009, Dawes recorded their rendition of “Oh! You Pretty Things” live in the Howard Stern Show studio. Composed of brothers Taylor (guitars and vocals) and Griffin Goldsmith (drums) as well as Wylie Gelber (bass) and Lee Pardini (keyboards) Dawes has put out five albums so far and is a favorite of late-night icon David Letterman - he even joked he was joining the band after his retirement.
“'Hunky Dory' was the gateway album for me, as I assume for many Bowie fans," Taylor Goldsmith said. "It gave so much context for all the more avant-garde and challenging music he would later make. To hear songs like this with their deeply musical chord progressions and beautiful lyric writing really illustrates the solid foundations he was stepping off from with everything he ever did."
Nikki Lane – “Golden Years”
Nikki Lane contributed a cover of “Golden Years,” a song Bowie wrote in the mid-1970s and at one point reportedly offered to Elvis Presley. It ultimately landed on Bowie’s 10th studio album, “Station to Station,” considered by many a transitional record foreshadowing his new direction toward synthesized music.
Nikki, a folk and country music singer-songwriter whose latest album “Highway Queen” was the third most-played Americana album of 2017 (following only Jason Isbell and recent Stern Show guest Chris Stapleton), recorded her version of the track from SiriusXM’s Nashville studios.
“It was a fun, yet challenging, experience to pick and cover a Bowie song,” Nikki said. “Emulating such a dynamic personality proved to be quite a difficult task.”
“I chose ‘Golden Years’ for two reasons: it seemed like it would be the best fit for me vocally and we loved the idea of approaching this project as a ‘band,’” she continued. “I was asked to join the project in the middle of a long tour, so the boys all played different song options over the sound system as we drove. We probably listened to the whole Bowie catalog! Something about this track really caught my attention, so we did our best to represent his song in our own way.”
Bleachers – “Ziggy Stardust”
Bleachers delivered a cover of Bowie’s electrifying anthem “Ziggy Stardust,” the climatic track from the late music legend’s 1972 opus “Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.”
Combining a cautionary tale of an inter-galactic rock star getting too big for his platform boots with a guitar riff for the ages from longtime Bowie collaborator Mick Ronson, the song remains one of the most iconic in Bowie’s entire repertoire despite having never been released as a single.
Prolific rocker and producer Jack Antonoff is the lead singer and songwriter for Bleachers, a rock band based out of New York City. In addition to having co-produced Taylor Swift’s album “1989,” Jack is the guitarist for the Grammy-winning rock band .fun.
Car Seat Headrest – “Ashes to Ashes”
Major Tom makes his less-than-triumphant return in “Ashes to Ashes,” the lead single from Bowie’s 1980 album “Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps).”
While the late rock icon's 1969 opus “Space Oddity” ended with Major Tom drifting hopelessly into the ether, the chorus of “Ashes to Ashes” reveals the ill-fated astronaut is still alive—though he's spent the last decade or so developing a dependency of sorts. (“Ashes to ashes, funk to funky / We know Major Tom's a junkie / Strung out in heaven's high / Hitting an all-time low”)
The song, which Bowie has described as “very much a 1980s nursery rhyme,” is filled with rhymes and relies on a windy, unorthodox structure. The atypical anatomy of “Ashes to Ashes” isn’t lost on Will Toledo, frontman for Seattle-based indie rock band Car Seat Headrest, which covered the cut for the Howard Stern Tribute to David Bowie.
"Bowie's repertoire is so vast that there's always something great that you haven't heard yet,” Will explained. “I started playing an acoustic version of ‘Ashes to Ashes’ around the house a few years ago. My roommate eventually asked me to record it. The song is constantly evolving into something new as it goes through its different passages, so I tried to match that in the production here.”
Low Cut Connie – “Diamond Dogs”
Shortly after retiring his infamous Ziggy Stardust persona, Bowie created another memorable alter-ego: an eye patch, scarf, and platform heel-wearing character named Halloween Jack.
In the 1974 single “Diamond Dogs,” off the album of the same name, Bowie describes Halloween Jack as “a real cool cat.” It’s that song Philadelphia-based rock band Low Cut Connie chose to cover for the Howard Stern Tribute to David Bowie, at least in part because lead singer and past Wrap Up Show guest Adam Weiner so enjoyed the late rocker’s wild characters.
"David Bowie wore masks. And through his masks he projected heart and soul and let all the oddball youngsters know that art, fashion, and rock n roll would save them from sadness and lift them up above adversity and conventionality,” Weiner said. “He told us we could be the wildest and most open-hearted versions of ourselves that we wanted to be. What an honor to get to wear his mask, just for one day."
There’s more to Low Cut Connie’s Bowie homage than just a great rendition of “Diamond Dogs,” too. A back-up singer for Low Cut Connie—whose celebrity fans include everyone from Sir Elton John to President Barack Obama—also dropped in a “Baba Booey” bomb at around the 3:20 mark.
Gogol Bordello – “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide”
The American Gypsy punk band Gogol Bordello tackled “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide,” the avant-garde closing number from Bowie’s starry-eyed masterpiece “Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.”
The richly philosophical song, which Bowie retired from his live repertoire in the early 1990s, depicts time’s devastating effect on aging rocker Ziggy Stardust, the album’s space-borne protagonist.
Gogol Bordello—known for highly theatrical stage shows incorporating everything from accordions to violins—recorded its “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide” cover live at the Sirius XM studios in Washington, D.C.
Frontman Eugene Hütz, famous also for starring opposite Elijah Wood in the Liev Schreiber-directed dramedy “Everything Is Illuminated," shared his thoughts on Bowie’s career and lasting influence:
"I learned about David Bowie through the music of Iggy Pop, who was already a very trusted voice in my community, back in my punk years growing up in Ukraine. Right away it was obvious I’m onto discovery of entire new world. World of a brilliant music writer with mania for progress and endless shape-shifting, yet with a very strong soul presence behind all the masquerade. And with very pronounced loving kindness about him. I believe it was exactly the kind of presence that [noted spiritualist] Edgar Cayce described as supra-consciousness."
Shawn Colvin – “Heroes”
Shawn Colvin took to the Stern Show studios to record a solo acoustic cover of “Heroes,” one of Bowie’s most enduring songs.
Hailing from the late rock icon’s 1977 album of the same name, “Heroes” tells the stories of two lovers separated by the Berlin Wall. While the song wasn’t a chart-topping hit in the U.K. or U.S. immediately after its release, it has since gone on to become one of Bowie’s best regarded, with Rolling Stone naming it the 46th greatest song ever created.
Shawn—a singer, songwriter, and South Dakota native—revealed she had several reasons for wanting to cover it. “I chose the song ‘Heroes’ not only because the music and melody are beautiful, but also because I found myself especially drawn to the lyrics,” she said. “This is usually the case with me. If I’m moved by the lyrics I can almost always attempt to create a version of the song.”
The Grammy-winning recording artist went on to explain what the lyrics meant to her: “The words to ‘Heroes’ depict the disparity between what we wish for and what can actually be. They capture a moment of hope in an otherwise desolate, perhaps even unresolvable, situation between two people. After all, anything is possible ‘for just one day.’ And the singer isn’t about to settle for mere relief, but instead aspires to absolutely triumph over despair. For me, it almost seems as though these lovers can save the world.”
For more on Shawn Colvin, including info on her upcoming album of children's lullabies entitled "The Starlighter," available Feb. 23, visit shawncolvin.com. Follow Shawn on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Garbage – “Starman”
Alternative rockers and past Stern Show performers Garbage covered the seminal Bowie song “Starman,” from his breakthrough 1972 concept album “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.”
The tale within the tune is told from the point of view of someone listening to the radio when Ziggy Stardust took over the airwaves to transmit a Starman’s mind-blowing intergalactic message containing hope, salvation, and instructions to “let all the children boogie.”
Garbage, of course, knows a little something about taking over airwaves. The Shirley Manson-fronted band has sold over 17 million albums since its inception in 1993. Additionally, drummer Butch Vig is one of rock’s most celebrated producers, having mixed or engineered albums like Nirvana’s “Nevermind,” Smashing Pumpkins’ “Siamese Dream,” and Sonic Youth’s “Dirty.”
Why did Garbage choose to cover “Starman” for the Howard Stern Tribute to David Bowie? “We opted for ‘Starman’ because Bowie was the ‘Starman’ who blew our minds,” the band said.
William Patrick Corgan – “Space Oddity”
Singer, songwriter, and recent Stern Show guest William Patrick Corgan recorded the final track for the Howard Stern Tribute to David Bowie, a stripped-down version of the 1969 classic “Space Oddity.”
Released just days before NASA launched Apollo 11 and sent men to the Moon for the first time, "Space Oddity" follows an increasingly perilous conversation between Ground Control and a fictional astronaut named Major Tom. It was Bowie’s first tune to chart in the U.K.
Corgan, who discussed his professional and personal relationship with Bowie during his 2017 sit-down with Howard, admits he hadn’t always been a “Space Oddity” super fan but said he found himself drawn to the tune after Bowie's death.
“Growing up, Bowie was one of my idols, and getting to know him some when we played and worked together was a real honor,” Corgan explained. “But that said, 'Space Oddity' wasn't necessarily one of my favorites of David's, and after his passing I found myself drawn to the alienating lyric the song, and singing it each night became my own personal way of mourning his loss. Eventually, too, I'd realize I was wrong about this tale of Major Tom. It's truly fantastic, and like no other.”
While Corgan's Smashing Pumpkins have performed “Space Oddity” in the past, the Grammy-winning rocker recorded this solo just for Howard's tribute.