Released: 6 April 1973
David Bowie: vocals, 12-string guitar, tenor saxophone, ARP synthesizer, handclaps, finger snaps
Mick Ronson: electric guitar, vocals, handclaps
Mike Garson: piano
Trevor Bolder: bass guitar
Woody Woodmansey: drums, tambourine
The second single released ahead of David Bowie’s sixth album Aladdin Sane, ‘Drive-In Saturday’ was a futurist daydream married to a Fifties doo-wop style.
Bowie and the Spiders From Mars travelled to a show at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix, Arizona on 4 November 1972, following two concerts at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle, Washington.
The view from the window during the late-night train journey caused Bowie to think of a post-apocalyptic future in which humans had to learn once again, Barbarella-style, how to reproduce and repopulate. Inspired by the scenes, he wrote ‘Drive-In Saturday’.
Apparently they only let the train through this particular stretch of desert late at night, but if you don’t go to sleep when you are supposed to, you suddenly see the moon shining on seventeen or eighteen enormous silver domes. I couldn’t find out from anyone what they were. But they gave me a vision of America, Britain and China after a nuclear catastrophe. The radiation has affected people’s minds and reproductive organs, and they don’t have a sex life. The only way they can learn to make love again is by watching video-films of how it used to be done.
Circus magazine, July 1973
‘Drive-In Saturday’ is a curious song, torn between the music of yesteryear and a terrifying vision of a broken society. Yet it was given further ambiguity by its references to T.Rex (“Try to get it on like once before”), the Rolling Stones (“People stared at Jagger’s eyes and scored”), and Sixties supermodel Twiggy (“She’d sigh like Twig the Wonder Kid”).
Twiggy – born Lesley Hornby – later recalled her excitement at hearing the song for the first time.
He’d done a song called ‘Drive-In Saturday’, and there was a line where he said, ‘She sighed like Twig the Wonder Kid.’ I heard it on the radio and went, ‘Oh my God, David Bowie just mentioned me in a song!’ I rushed out to buy it because I thought maybe I’d misheard it
Toronto Sun, 5 March 2012
A meeting between Bowie and Twiggy was subsequently brokered by her manager and former partner, Justin De Villeneuve.
By 1973, we were no longer a couple, but I remained her manager. David Bowie’s Aladdin Sane had just come out, and we loved the line: “Twig the wonder kid.” We met Bowie a few times socially, and he mentioned that he wanted to be the first man on the cover of Vogue. I called them to suggest this, with Twiggy, of course, and after a bit of a hoo-ha, they agreed.
The Guardian, 16 May 2012
The pair were photographed together in Paris in July 1973. Although the image was taken for Vogue, Bowie was so taken with it that he decided it would be perfect for the Pinups album cover.