Released: 19 April 1973
Mick Ronson: electric guitar, vocals
Mike Garson: piano
Trevor Bolder: bass guitar
Mick ‘Woody’ Woodmansey: drums
David Bowie’s version of the Rolling Stones’ ‘Let’s Spend The Night Together’ was recorded in January 1973 for his sixth album Aladdin Sane.
Of the first three Bowie albums produced by Ken Scott, each contained a single cover version. Hunky Dory featured Biff Rose’s ‘Fill Your Heart’, while The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars had Ron Davies’s ‘It Ain’t Easy’.
The third was ‘Let’s Spend The Night Together’. The song was originally released as a single by the Rolling Stones in January 1967, and was also included on the US edition of Between The Buttons.
It didn’t matter if David wrote the song or not, quite often, because when he interpreted something he made it his own. He had that ability. Think of ‘Wild Is The Wind’, say… We had a lot of versions of ‘My Death’ that we did in concert, and I always really liked that one. That was a cover, of course. ‘Let’s Spend The Night Together’, the Rolling Stones song, was hilarious to do.
The Mouth magazine, 28 September 2017
Bowie loved the Rolling Stones, and their influence can be heard throughout the more rock-based songs on Aladdin Sane, but in the early 1970s he was still careful to distance himself from the previous generation of musicians. Nowhere was this more apparent than on ‘All The Young Dudes’, with its airy dismissal of the Sixties: “My brother’s back at home with his Beatles and his Stones/We never got it off on that revolution stuff/What a drag, too many snags.”
David didn’t have to be obvious about it, and he wasn’t. Most of the time the charts and the headlines delivered the message for him; he simply added the occasional subtle reinforcement, such as his recording of ‘Let’s Spend the Night Together’. When you cut a new version of a song so firmly identified with the original artist, you’re paying tribute, naturally, and that’s good, you’re flattering. But if you have the status David had, you’re also staking your own claim to the song’s glory and history. And in this case I have no doubt whatsoever that David was out to steal Stones thunder – or more to the point. Stones territory. He was tomcatting the turf, spraying young scent over the old cat’s, as he had done with Marianne Faithfull.
Backstage Passes: Life on the Wild Side with David Bowie
In 1974 Bowie spoke about his admiration of Stones frontman Mick Jagger.
For the West, Jagger is most certainly a mother figure and he’s a mother hen to the whole thing. He’s not a cockadoodledoo; he’s much more like a brothel-keeper or a madame… He’s incredibly sexy and very virile. I also find him incredibly motherly and maternal clutched into his bosom of ethnic blues. He’s a White boy from Dagenham trying his damnedest to be ethnic. You see, trying to tart the rock business up a bit is getting nearer to what the kids themselves are like, because what I find, if you want to talk in the terms of rock, a lot depends on sensationalism and the kids are a lot more sensational than the stars themselves. The rock business is a pale shadow of what the kids’ lives are usually like. The admiration comes from the other side. It’s all a reversal, especially in recent years. Walk down Christopher Street and then you wonder exactly what went wrong. People are not like James Taylor; they may be moulded on the outside, but inside their heads is something completely different.
Rolling Stone, 28 February 1974
During an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, the Stones had been forced to change the lyrics to the more chaste “Let’s spend some time together”. Bowie, singing some six years later, had no such issues, with several of the Aladdin Sane songs touching upon themes of sex and drugs.
As a genuine nod to the Stones we again did our version of ‘Let’s Spend the Night Together’. As a result of our time in America the overall sound of the band had got heavier and Mick’s guitar sound had naturally got dirtier than it was before. This really helped bring those tracks to life.
Spider from Mars: My Life with Bowie
Bowie added some lascivious lyrics of his own to the song, during the breakdown ahead of the finale:
They said we were too young
Our kind of love was no fun
But our love comes from above
Let’s make… love