Top 5 Glam Rock Guitar Riffs from David Bowie

Ayla Tesler-Mabe  /  LessonsJan 12, 2023

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Music legend David Bowie has had a significant influence on a variety of cultural movements over the course of his career. His early 1970s period was particularly notable since he was instrumental in developing and popularising the glam rock subgenre. Bowie’s glam rock era is a gold mine for guitarists since it is outrageous, creative, and packed full of legendary guitar riffs. In this video, Ayla presents her picks for the five greatest glam rock guitar riffs of David Bowie’s career.

Ziggy Stardust

The renowned opening riff from the album’s title track, “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars,” which debuted in 1972, is the first riff on our list.


Up next, we have the riff from the popular song “Starman.” Bowie’s performance of this song on the British television show “Top of the Pops” in early July 1972 was a pivotal milestone for the glam rock movement. This song was also the lead single from “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.”

Diamond Dogs

The title track of the 1974 album “Diamond Dogs” is the source of riff number three. On this album, Bowie played practically all of the guitars. Some believe the guitar sounds he went for were a departure from his glam rock style and more in line with garage rock or proto-punk. However, the drama and glam-rock feel are still present throughout the entire album.

Rebel Rebel

For our fourth riff, we have “Rebel Rebel.” Some sources claim that Bowie performed lead guitar on this song. However, other sources identify Alan Parker as the guitarist who recorded the riff. Whoever it was, “Rebel Rebel” is a mainstay of Bowie’s glam rock period.

Watch That Man

The last riff on our list is from the lesser-known “Watch That Man,” which was the lead single from the 1973 album “Aladdin Sane.” This song, which includes some excellent guitar work from Mick Ronson, was greatly influenced by bands like the New York Dolls and the Rolling Stones.

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