David Bowie mimics Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Neil Young and more in brilliant clip from 1985

15 September 2020, 11:16

The clip from August 18, 1985 hears the Starman singer impersonating Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waites, Neil Young, Bob Dylan and his good friends Iggy Pop and Lou Reed at the London recording session.
The clip from August 18, 1985 hears the Starman singer impersonating Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waites, Neil Young, Bob Dylan and his good friends Iggy Pop and Lou Reed at the London recording session. Picture: Getty

By Giorgina Ramazzotti

A brilliant recording has emerged of David Bowie impersonating a selection of his famous friends' iconic singing voices in 1985.

Recorded at Shepherd's Bush Studios, David Bowie can be heard mimicking some of his musical contemporaries as he sings playfully in a recording booth.

The clip from August 18, 1985 hears the Starman singer impersonating Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waites, Neil Young, Bob Dylan and his good friends Iggy Pop and Lou Reed at the studio session in London.

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The video was uploaded by sound engineer Mark Saunders who recorded the session while working with David Bowie on the soundtrack to Absolute Beginners.

Great friends Iggy Pop and David Bowie pose backstage after Pop's concert at the Ritz, New York, New York, 1986.
Great friends Iggy Pop and David Bowie pose backstage after Pop's concert at the Ritz, New York, New York, 1986. Picture: Getty
The video was uploaded by sound engineer Mark Saunders who recorded the session while working with Bowie on the soundtrack to Absolute Beginners. Pictured, Bowie and Lou Reed in 1996
The video was uploaded by sound engineer Mark Saunders who recorded the session while working with Bowie on the soundtrack to Absolute Beginners. Pictured, Bowie and Lou Reed in 1996. Picture: Getty

Speaking of the video, Mark says: “The impersonations on this YouTube posting were recorded in August ’85, when Bowie came in to do the lead vocal.

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"At the end of the session, he broke into the impersonations and I realized that these might get erased at some point, so I quickly put a cassette in and hit “record.”

"I wish we could hear the other side of the dialogue but unfortunately, that wasn’t being recorded.”

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Mark says he was “producing the soundtrack for the movie Absolute Beginners, for which Bowie was acting and writing songs - it was a better soundtrack than it was a movie! - and I was graduating from assistant engineer to engineer at that time."

“The day Bowie was first due to show up at Westside, we were all a bit nervous,” Mark recalls.

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Recorded at Shepherd's Bush Studios David Bowie can be heard mimicking a collection of his close friends as he messes around in the recording booth. Pictured with Bob Dylan
Recorded at Shepherd's Bush Studios David Bowie can be heard mimicking a collection of his close friends as he messes around in the recording booth. Pictured with Bob Dylan. Picture: Getty
The recording was made just a month after David Bowie performed at Live Aid, Wembley Stadium July 13, 1985
The recording was made just a month after David Bowie performed at Live Aid, Wembley Stadium July 13, 1985. Picture: Getty

“We kept looking out the windows, waiting for a stretch limo to show up and an entire entourage to walk in, but then a black cab showed up and out popped the unaccompanied Bowie.

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"He walked in, announced in what seemed a more cockney voice than I remembered, “Hi, I’m David Bowie,” and shook our hands.”

“He seemed smaller than I imagined he would be in person," Mark continues, "A bit later I noticed that the cockney had dissipated somewhat and he also seemed to have grown more upright and taller, too. I thought, “Wow, he really is a chameleon,” and wondered if the earlier exaggerated cockney was his way of reducing his superstar status temporarily to put people at ease on first meeting him.”

Listen to the video of David Bowie's 1985 impersonations below:

Timings of the session according to Far Out are:

0:00 Bruce Springsteen
0:43 Bob Dylan (or is it Marc Bolan?)
1:37 Tom Waits
2:30 Lou Reed
3:20 Anthony Newley
4:06 Iggy Pop
5:03 Neil Young (could also be Tom Petty)

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