Panic in Detroit

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"Panic in Detroit"
Song by David Bowie from the album Aladdin Sane
Released April 13, 1973
Recorded RCA Studios, New York
Trident Studios, London
9 December 1972 -
24 January 1973
Genre Glam rock, hard rock
Length 4:25
Label RCA
Writer David Bowie
Producer Ken Scott, David Bowie
Aladdin Sane track listing
"Drive-In Saturday"
"Panic in Detroit"
"Cracked Actor"

"Panic in Detroit" is a song written by David Bowie for the album Aladdin Sane in 1973. Bowie based it on friend Iggy Pop's descriptions of revolutionaries he had known as a youth in Michigan.[1] It is also interpreted as being written about the 1967 Detroit riots.[2] Rolling Stone magazine called the track "a paranoid descendant of the Motor City's earlier masterpiece, Martha and the Vandellas' "Nowhere to Run"".[3]

Musically "Panic in Detroit" has been described as a "Salsa variation on the Bo Diddley beat",[4] and features prominent conga drums and female backing vocals. The lyrics namecheck Che Guevara and are also said to contain references to John Sinclair of the White Panther Party.[4]

Bowie played the song live on tour in 1973, 1974, 1976, 1990, 1997, and 2003-4.

In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine printed its list of "The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time". Mick Ronson was ranked at #64, and "Panic in Detroit" as his "essential recording".[5]

Live versions[edit]

  • A live version recorded on 14 July 1974 was released as the B-side of the single "Knock on Wood" in 1974. The same version was also released as the B-side of the US-only single "Rock 'n' Roll with Me" in 1974, on the compilation album Rare in 1983, and finally on the re-issued David Live in 2005.
  • A live performance recorded on 23 March 1976 was released on Live Nassau Coliseum '76, part of the 2010 reissues of Station to Station.

Other releases[edit]

  • It was released as the B-side of the Japan release of the single "Time" in April 1973.
  • It was released as picture discs in both the RCA Life Time picture disc set and the Fashion Picture Disc Set.
  • It also appeared in the Sound and Vision box set (1989) and on Best of Bowie (US/Canada edition 2002).
  • A new version of the song recorded in late 1979 was issued for the first time as a bonus track on the 1992 Rykodisc CD release of Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps). This version was recorded for the Kenny Everett's New Year's Eve Show that would feature the debut of Bowie's 1979 rerecording of "Space Oddity", but "Panic in Detroit" was not broadcast. The same recording appeared on the bonus disc of the Heathen Limited Edition double CD, labelled an "outtake from a 1979 recording".[6]

Cover versions[edit]

  • Christian Death - The Rage of Angels (1994), Death in Detroit EP (1995), Goth Oddity - A Tribute to David Bowie (1999), and Starman: Rare and Exclusive Versions of 18 Classic David Bowie Songs, CD premium from the March 2003 issue of Uncut magazine
  • Shadow Project - In Tuned Out Live 93 (1994)
  • The Aries Parallel - Diamond Gods: Interpretations of Bowie (2001)
  • The Joe Harvard Band - Hero: The Main Man Records Tribute to David Bowie (2007)


  1. ^ Nicholas Pegg (2000). The Complete David Bowie: p.160
  2. ^ - Panic In Detroit
  3. ^ Ben Gerson (19 July 1973). "Aladdin Sane". Rolling Stone (Rolling Stone). [dead link]
  4. ^ a b Roy Carr & Charles Shaar Murray (1981). Bowie: An Illustrated Record: p.54
  5. ^ Rolling Stone (September 2003). "The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time". Rolling Stone (Rolling Stone) (931). 
  6. ^ "Panic in Detroit" at the Illustrated db Discography

External links[edit]