David Bowie Reinvented This John Lennon Song as a Rock Song

David Bowie was a huge fan of the songs from one of John Lennon‘s post-Beatles’ albums. Bowie decided to cover a song from the album with his band. During an interview, he discussed Sean Lennon’s opinion of the cover.

David Bowie, Yoko Ono, and John Lennon in front of a wall
David Bowie, Yoko Ono, and John Lennon | Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

David Bowie said this John Lennon track was 1 of his favorite songs

Bowie formed a band called Tin Machine in the late 1980s. Tin Machine’s self-titled debut album includes a cover of John’s “Working Class Hero.” According to the book Bowie on Bowie: Interviews and Encounters with David Bowie, Adrian Deevoy asked Bowie which member of Tin Machine had the idea to cover the song.

“I think that was mine,” Bowie said. “That’s always been a really favorite song of mine. I like that first John Lennon album a hell of a lot.”

Bowie was referring to the album John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band was the first album John made without The Beatles that was credited to “John Lennon” rather than “John Lennon and Yoko Ono.” John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band includes “Working Class Hero.”

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Bowie elaborated on why he enjoyed John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band so much. “I think all the songs are really beautifully written and, again, very straight from the shoulder,” he said. “There’s an honesty in the lyrics there. And that particular song, I thought, would sound great as a rock song. It seemed very worth doing.”

What Sean Lennon thought of David Bowie’s version of “Working Class Hero’

Bowie was asked what John’s son, Sean Lennon, thought of Tin Machine’s version of “Working Class Hero.” “I think he likes it a lot,” Bowie opined.

“He’s followed this album almost from the start, from the second week,” Bowie added. “He’s a big [Gabrels] Reeves fan.” Reeves was one of the members of Tin Machine.

Sean Lennon wearing a hat
Sean Lennon | Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for New York Fashion Week: The Shows

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The way the world reacted to ‘Tin Machine’ and ‘John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band’

Tin Machine’s self-titled album became a hit in the United Kingdom. The Official Charts Company reports the album peaked at No. 3 in the U.K., lasting on the chart for nine weeks. Tin Machine did not release its cover of “Working Class Hero” as a single. Three singles from the album — “Under the God,” “Prisoner of Love,” and “Tin Machine”/”Maggie’s Farm” — hit the chart in the U.K.

John Lennon/Plastic Ono band was popular in the U.K. as well. The Official Charts Company reports John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band reached No. 8 in the U.K., staying on the chart for 11 weeks. One of the songs from the album, “Love,” hit No. 41 in the U.K. and remained on the chart for eight weeks. “Working Class Hero” is a classic song — even if it wasn’t a hit for John or Tin Machine.

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