Listen: David Bowie's Hilarious Impressions of Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop and More

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Unsurprisingly, Lou Reed is one impression Bowie had down pretty well.  (Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

Yes, I know, you've read everything there is to read about Bowie over the past week and a half. You've listened to every record, watched every interview, dissected conversations about what he meant to the queer community, to children's movies, to your great aunt Marla.

But you probably haven't heard this: The Starman himself, with more than a hint of audible glee, performing spot-on impressions of other contemporary musical greats -- including Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, and more.

Recording engineer Mark Saunders uploaded the previously buried recordings to YouTube a couple days ago, with the following explanation of their origin:

I was lucky enough to work with Bowie in 1985 at Westside Studios in London. My bosses, Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley (Madness, Dexys Midnight Runners, Elvis Costello, Bush) were producing the soundtrack for the movie Absolute Beginners, for which Bowie was acting and writing songs (it was a better soundtrack than it was a movie!) and I was graduating from assistant engineer to engineer at that time.


The day Bowie was first due to show up at Westside, we were all a bit nervous — Bowie was the biggest star client for Clive and Alan at that point in time. We kept looking out the windows, waiting for a stretch limo to show up and an entire entourage to walk in, but then a black cab showed up and out popped the unaccompanied Bowie. He walked in, announced in what seemed a more cockney voice than I remembered, “Hi, I’m David Bowie,” and shook our hands. He seemed smaller than I imagined he would be in person. A bit later I noticed that the cockney had dissipated somewhat and he also seemed to have grown more upright and taller, too. I thought, “Wow, he really is a chameleon,” and wondered if the earlier exaggerated cockney was his way of reducing his superstar status temporarily to put people at ease on first meeting him.

The impersonations on this YouTube posting were recorded in August '85, when Bowie came in to do the lead vocal. At the end of the session, he broke into the impersonations and I realized that these might get erased at some point, so I quickly put a cassette in and hit “record.” 

Over on Saunders' blog, the engineer goes on to tell the story of how Mick Jagger and David Bowie's cover of "Dancing in the Street" was recorded. Somehow, the story does not involve piles upon piles of cocaine. Nevertheless: Gems galore.