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30 Wild David Bowie Duets and Collaborations

John Lennon, Cher, Bing Crosby and more

David Bowie

15 May 1978, Rhineland, Germany --- (File) David Bowie performs during his concert in Frankfurt Main on 15 May 1978. --- Image by © Kirmer/dpa/Corbis

Kirmer/dpa/Corbis

With a career that dated nearly 48 years and a reputation as rock's greatest chameleon, David Bowie has managed to team with the best and brightest of every generation's rising underground — glammers, punkers, art-proggers, disco masters, rappers, R&B stars, industrial brooders, electronica blippers and contemporary indie rockers. But that doesn't mean he's not down to work with Cher, Bing Crosby or a Beatle. Here's 30 of Bowie's collabos from the iconic, to the underrated to the curious. 

David Bowie

15 May 1978, Rhineland, Germany --- (File) David Bowie performs during his concert in Frankfurt Main on 15 May 1978. --- Image by © Kirmer/dpa/Corbis

Kirmer/dpa/Corbis

Massive Attack, “Nature Boy” (2001)

Trip-hop pioneers Massive Attack were initially reluctant to contribute to the 2001 soundtrack of Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge, but they were won over after hearing that they'd be collaborating with an enthusiastic David Bowie. Having already been commissioned to cover Nat King Cole's 1948 standard, "Nature Boy," Bowie lent a lilting, nuanced reading of the song over Massive Attack's moody and ominous backdrop of looped string samples and bursts of guitar noise. 

David Bowie

15 May 1978, Rhineland, Germany --- (File) David Bowie performs during his concert in Frankfurt Main on 15 May 1978. --- Image by © Kirmer/dpa/Corbis

Kirmer/dpa/Corbis

Scarlett Johannson, “Anywhere I Lay My Head” (2008)

In 2007, Scarlett Johansson and TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek traveled to Lafayette, Louisiana to record an album of Tom Waits covers. At a party in Los Angeles before the sessions, Johansson ran into Bowie, who asked about the project. Weeks later, as Johansson was in Spain filming a movie, Bowie stopped by as the album was being mixed and cut vocals for "Falling Down" and "Fannin Street.'" "It was the best phone call I ever got," Johansson told RS at the time. 

David Bowie

15 May 1978, Rhineland, Germany --- (File) David Bowie performs during his concert in Frankfurt Main on 15 May 1978. --- Image by © Kirmer/dpa/Corbis

Kirmer/dpa/Corbis

David Gilmour, “Arnold Layne” (2006)

After staying relatively quiet in the wake of his heart surgery in 2004, Bowie surprised the crowd at London's Royal Albert Hall two years later by walking onstage during friend David Gilmour's set. He howled Pink Floyd's first single, the garage-y psych-rock classic "Arnold Layne." The song, about a man who steals women's clothes, was banned from radio when it was released in 1967; at that time, Bowie was just getting started and there was no bigger act on the underground English rock scene than Floyd. (Bowie especially adored the eccentric Syd Barrett.) Bowie finished the Royal Albert Hall set with a take on "Comfortably Numb" under psychedelic lasers. Bowie made the song unmistakably his own, proving he'd lost nothing in his years off the stage.

David Bowie

15 May 1978, Rhineland, Germany --- (File) David Bowie performs during his concert in Frankfurt Main on 15 May 1978. --- Image by © Kirmer/dpa/Corbis

Kirmer/dpa/Corbis

Arcade Fire, “Reflektor” (2013)

Win Butler was looking for another voice for the hypnotic title track to Arcade Fire's fourth album. He worked up the courage to ask Bowie, a fan of the band who had come to shows and performed onstage with them in 2005. "He was really gracious to come and do it," Butler told Rolling Stone in 2013. "It was kinda just too perfect, because he came in and the last time he had been there was when he was recording 'Fame' in the basement with John Lennon at that same studio. And it kinda felt like related in a certain way, John Lennon sang backing vocals for him on his, and now Bowie singing back vocals on ours for us in the same space." 

David Bowie

15 May 1978, Rhineland, Germany --- (File) David Bowie performs during his concert in Frankfurt Main on 15 May 1978. --- Image by © Kirmer/dpa/Corbis

Kirmer/dpa/Corbis

TV on the Radio, “Province” (2006)

Bowie sought out TV on the Radio, among the hippest bands in New York in the early 2000s. According to TVOTR singer Tunde Adebimpe, Bowie phoned band member Dave Sitek while they were on the road. "We were at a gas station and Dave got the phone call and hung up the phone, 'cause he thought it was our friend Julian pulling another joke: 'Yeah, you're David Bowie, right.' He called him back two more times and said, 'No, I'm really David Bowie.'" Bowie listened to the tracks that would make up Return to Cookie Mountain and chose to contribute backup vocals on "Province."

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