Panic in Detroit

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"Panic in Detroit"
Song by David Bowie
from the album Aladdin Sane
ReleasedApril 13, 1973
RecordedJanuary 1973
StudioTrident, London
Songwriter(s)David Bowie
Producer(s)Ken Scott, David Bowie

"Panic in Detroit" is a song written by English singer-songwriter David Bowie for the album Aladdin Sane in 1973. Bowie based it on friend Iggy Pop's descriptions of revolutionaries he had known in Michigan[3] and Pop's experiences during the 1967 Detroit riots.[4] Rolling Stone magazine called the track "a paranoid descendant of the Motor City's earlier masterpiece, Martha and the Vandellas' "Nowhere to Run"".[5]

Musically "Panic in Detroit" has been described as a "Salsa variation on the Bo Diddley beat",[6] 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.[6]

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".[7]


Live versions[edit]

Bowie played the song live on many of his tours:

  • 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 released as the B-side of the US-only single "Rock 'n' Roll with Me" in the same year. It also appeared on the compilation album Rare in 1983, on the 2005 and subsequent reissues of David Live, and on Re:Call 2, part of the Who Can I Be Now? (1974–1976) compilation released in 2016.
  • A live performance recorded on 20 October 1974 was released in 2020 on I'm Only Dancing (The Soul Tour 74).

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 + 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".[8]


  1. ^ Berman, Stuart (September 29, 2010). "David Bowie: Station to Station (Deluxe Edition)". Pitchfork. Retrieved July 13, 2019.
  2. ^ Perone, James E. (2007). The Words and Music of David Bowie. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 35. ISBN 978-0-27599-245-3.
  3. ^ Nicholas Pegg (2000). The Complete David Bowie: p.160
  4. ^ - Panic In Detroit
  5. ^ Ben, Gerson (July 19, 1973). "Aladdin Sane". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on October 14, 2007.
  6. ^ a b Roy Carr & Charles Shaar Murray (1981). Bowie: An Illustrated Record: p.54
  7. ^ Rolling Stone (September 2003). "The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time". Rolling Stone (931).
  8. ^ "Panic in Detroit" at the Illustrated db Discography

External links[edit]