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  • Writer's picturePeter Swank

Music Origins: Rebel Rebel Guitar Riff (David Bowie)

Updated: Feb 5, 2022

Hey David Bowie fans! Let’s talk about that awesome guitar riff on Rebel Rebel (1974)…

According to a February 2014 article by Uncut Magazine, guitarist Alan Parker created that “Stones-y riff” with David Bowie in order to “piss off” Rolling Stones’ frontman, Mick Jagger.

But real fans… Listen closely to those notes… Now listen to the guitar on Bowie’s 1970 The Width of a Circle. No offense to Alan Parker, Carlos Alomar, or David himself (you’re all geniuses, and I want you to play at my birthday, wedding, and funeral), but the riff wasn’t created for Rebel Rebel. It existed long before, when Ziggy was en route to Earth.


Now maybe you can help me with another Bowie-quest I’ve been on since June 1990. In his 1980 Ashes to Ashes, what are the background singers saying in the background of that first lead-in to the chorus (where David sings “The shrieking of nothing is killing, just…”)? They’re not repeating what David is signing as in the other verses, and I have yet to be able to extract their voices alone. I’ve even studied David’s original notes on this song, yet the lyrics remain a mystery. What do you think? Leave your comments below.

David Bowie Rebel Rebel
David Bowie Rebel Rebel

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