Recorded on 4 February 1972, towards the end of the Ziggy Stardust sessions, "Suffragette City" features a piano riff heavily influenced by Little Richard, a lyrical reference to the book and film A Clockwork Orange (the word "droogie," meaning "friend") and the sing-along hook "Wham bam thank you ma'am!".
Before recording it himself, Bowie offered it to the band Mott the Hoople if they would forgo their plan to break up. The group refused, but recorded Bowie's "All the Young Dudes" instead.
Bowie recorded the song for the BBC radio programme "Sounds of the 70s: John Peel" on 16 May 1972, and this performance was broadcast on 23 May 1972. In 2000, this recording was released on the Bowie at the Beeb album.
A recording from the 1974 tour was released on David Live. This version was also released in the Sound and Vision box set. Another live recording from the 1974 tour was released on the semi-legal A Portrait in Flesh.
A live performance recorded on 23 March 1976 was released on Live Nassau Coliseum '76, part of the 2010 reissue of Station to Station.