David Bowie – ‘Rebel Rebel’
  • Writer: David Bowie
  • Producer: David Bowie
  • Recorded: December 1973 at Olympic Studios, London
  • Released: February 1974
  • Players:
  • David Bowie — vocals, guitar
  • Herbie Flowers — bass
  • Mike Garson — keyboards
  • Tony Newman — drums
  • Aynsley Dunbar — drums
  • Album: Diamond Dogs (RCA, 1974)
  • Also On:
  • Changesonebowie (RCA, 1976)
  • David Live (RCA, 1974)
  • Sound + Vision (Rykodisc, 1989)
  • Changesbowie (Rykodisc, 1990)
  • The Singles 1969-1993 (Rykodisc, 1993)
  • The Best Of David Bowie 1969/1974 (Virgin, 1998)
  • Singles Collection (EMI, 1999)
  • Singles Collection, Volume 1 (EMI, 2000)
  • Best Of Bowie (Virgin, 2002)

 

  • “Rebel Rebel” was the first single released from David Bowie‘s 1974 album Diamond Dogs.
  • A shorter version of the single came out first, featuring very different instrumentation and lots of phased vocals. It was withdrawn and replaced by the version that became a hit, and the short version can now only be found on the Sound + Vision box set.
  • The song hit Number 64 on the Billboard Hot 100 and became a popular rock radio track. It reached Number Five on the U.K. chart.
  • Diamond Dogs was one of Bowie’s biggest releases — it was his first album after splitting up his band the Spiders From Mars (though keyboardist Mike Garson and drummer Aynsley Dunbar appear on the album), and he also took on the role of playing lead guitar on the album.
  • With its hooky power chords and glam production, “Rebel Rebel” was a deliberate choice for the album’s first single, a song that would display Bowie’s guitar acumen as well as a crunching rocker to assure Bowie’s fans that he could still kick it, even without the Spiders.
  • The song also advances the gender-bending Bowie was known for in the early ’70s, with lyrics such as “You’ve got your mother in a whirl/She’s not sure if you’re a boy or a girl.”
  • The Diamond Dogs album cover also stirred some controversy. The Guy Peellaert painting depicting Bowie with a male dog’s hindquarters was anatomically correct. RCA had to recall the initial shipment of the album in order to airbrush the offending image.
  • Diamond Dogs hit Number Five on the Billboard 200 — his best showing in the U.S. to that point — and was certified gold. It was a Number One album in the U.K.

FAST FORWARD:

  • Bowie has continued to record and perform, with occasional forays into acting.
  • He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996 but didn’t attend the ceremony.
  • In 1997, Bowie offered “shares” — or “Bowie Bonds,” as they came to be known — backed by his projected future income for past projects. The move, which was the first of its kind in rock, was a huge success.
  • Bowie’s latest album, called Reality, came out in 2003, and he toured the world to support it.
  • He had to cancel the last couple of shows on the tour after having an emergency angioplasty to repair a blocked artery. However, a source told the U.K. tabloid The Sun that Bowie actually had a heart attack. He has reportedly made a complete recovery.
  • A mash-up of “Rebel Rebel” and a track from Reality called “Never Get Old” was released in 2004, called “Rebel Never Gets Old.”

Bowie also recorded a stripped-down version of the song in 2003, which was released as a bonus track on Reality.