Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) singleWritten by: David Bowie
Recorded: February-April 1980
Producers: David Bowie, Tony Visconti

Released: 12 September 1980 (UK), 15 September 1980 (US)

Available on:
Scary Monsters… And Super Creeps
Serious Moonlight (Live ’83)
Glass Spider (Live Montreal ’87)
No Trendy Réchauffé (Live Birmingham 95)
Look At The Moon! (Live Phoenix Festival 97)

Personnel

David Bowie: vocals, keyboards
Carlos Alomar, Robert Fripp: guitar
George Murray: bass guitar
Dennis Davis: drums, percussion
Tony Visconti: acoustic guitar
Chris Porter: vocals, handclaps

‘Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)’ is the title track of David Bowie’s 14th studio album, released in September 1980. It was also the third single released from the album.

It’s a sort of a nasty piece of Londonism. The character on that – and it is a character, it’s not at all subjective – that was objective about a few people I’ve met.

Actually he’s a criminal with a conscience, I think. Maybe it is about me, let’s see.

He talks in terms of how he corrupted a fine young mind. So it’s the corrupter talking, having his own self doubts, I think.

David Bowie, 1980
The David Bowie Interview promo album

The song began life as ‘Running Scared’. According to Iggy Pop, its origins went as far back as 1974.

David was not a person to waste a piece of music: Never waste an idea. I first heard his 1980 song ‘Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)’ when we were in a house on Sunset Boulevard in 1974. It was called ‘Running Scared’ at the time. He was playing it on the guitar and wanted to know if I could do something with it. I couldn’t. He kept it and worked it up.

That was another big thing I learned: Don’t throw stuff away.

Iggy Pop
Rolling Stone, 27 January 2016

The eventual title and chorus were reportedly inspired by a promotional campaign run for Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, which offered toys described as “Scary Monsters and Super Heroes”.

The release

‘Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)’ was the third song on the Scary Monsters… And Super Creeps album, which was released on 12 September 1980 in the UK, and three days later in the USA.

In January 1981 the song was released as a single in the UK, France, Germany, and Ireland. It was the third single taken from the album, after ‘Ashes To Ashes’ and ‘Fashion’.

The single was an edit which reduced the running time from 5:10 to 3:27. In the UK, Ireland, and Germany the b-side was ‘Because You’re Young’, while in France it was ‘Up The Hill Backwards’.