Aladdin Sane album coverWritten by: David Bowie
Recorded: January 1973
Producers: David Bowie, Ken Scott; Tony Visconti (1979)
Engineers: Ken Scott, Mike Moran; Tony Visconti (1979)

Released: 19 April 1973

Available on:
Aladdin Sane
David Live
I’m Only Dancing (The Soul Tour 74)
Live Nassau Coliseum ’76


1973 version:
David Bowie: vocals, acoustic guitar
Mick Ronson: electric guitar
Mike Garson: piano
Trevor Bolder: bass guitar
Mick ‘Woody’ Woodmansey: drums
Aynsley Dunbar: percussion
Linda Lewis, Juanita Franklin: vocals
Geoff MacCormack: vocals, congas

1979 version:
David Bowie: vocals, guitar
Tony Visconti: guitar, vocals
Zaine Griff: bass guitar
Andy Duncan: drums

‘Panic In Detroit’ was written in Michigan during the Ziggy Stardust Tour, inspired by stories told to David Bowie by Iggy Pop.

Pop flew from Los Angeles to attend Bowie’s sold-out show at New York’s Carnegie Hall on 28 September 1972. Backstage, Pop delighted Bowie with tales of revolutionaries and counter-cultural figures he had known in his youth, including the White Panthers’ John Sinclair, and also his experiences of Detroit’s five-day riot in 1967.

The figure who “looked a lot like Che Guevara” was based on someone Bowie had known at Bromley Technical High School, who had reintroduced himself after the Carnegie Hall show.

It was somebody who I used to go to school with who ended up as a very big drugs dealer in South America. And he flew in to see one of the shows and reintroduced himself. ‘I don’t believe it,’ I said, ‘Is this what you are now?’ He was the full bit, with the clothes and the piece and everything, and I thought, my God – him?
David Bowie

Bowie wrote ‘Panic In Detroit’ the month after the New York concert, around the time when he and the Spiders From Mars performed in Detroit on 8 October 1972. It was reportedly finished later that month in Los Angeles, where Bowie remixed Iggy and the Stooges’ Raw Power at Western Sound Recorders.

After Santa Monica, we had a couple of days off. Bowie went in to Western Sound Studios with Iggy Pop to re-mix The Stooges’ album Raw Power. He managed to finish writing ‘Panic in Detroit’ while in LA, too.
Woody Woodmansey
Spider from Mars: My Life with Bowie

‘Panic In Detroit’ was the b-side of the Japanese single ‘Time’, released in April 1973.

Published: |