Here we are, acknowledging another iconic figure in skateboarding’s beloved soundtracks. Just as skateboarders have a broad range of personalities and taste, the same can be said about David Bowie – he’s come in all shapes and sizes. From singing with Tina Turner, wearing zoot suits, singing reggae hits and dressing up in costume during performances, David Bowie can probably relate to skateboarders more than he can musicians. Our “I do what I feel” mentality coincides with his beliefs wholeheartedly, which explains why we needed to have a SBS with Ziggy Stardust himself.
Also, shoutout to that Moose part from the Deathwish Video, which wasn’t added to our list but that doesn’t mean we didn’t love it. Sadly, we couldn’t find it online :/
Disclaimer: this list features parts set to songs from albums other than Ziggy Stardust and Diamond Dogs. Prepare for disappointment.
5. Sylvain Tognelli – Eleventh Hour
DB Cover Song: “Tonight” Album: Lust For Life/Tonight
The scope of David Bowie’s talent and influence is often underestimated. For example, your average skateboarder probably has no idea that half of the songs on Iggy Pop’s 1977 album Lust for Life were composed by, and featured, Bowie. Another thing the average skateboarder might not realize is that Jacob Harris used “Tonight” for Sylvain Tognelli’s part in Eleventh Hour in 2013, making it the first (and far superior) use of the song. Tognelli’s skating is fast and unpredictable, and it matches the ups and downs of the song perfectly. Take note of the way the lines with the lipslide on the flatbar and the FS noseslide pretzel synch up with the build and the solo, respectively.
4. Bryan Herman – Baker 3
Song: “The Width of a Circle” Album: The Man Who Sold the World
A young Bryan Herman was paired with “The Width of a Circle”, one of Bowie’s earlier songs, for the curtains in Baker 3. Herman’s effortless precision goes well with Mick Ronson’s guitar riff, and Reynolds makes sure not to waste the song’s progression. The part starts off as mellow as a Baker part can be, with ledge lines and a smaller stair count, before building to picnic tables, gap-to-rails, and the Wilshire 15. While most wouldn’t want this incredible song trimmed, the short-but-sweet hammer section at the end of the part is nothing short of classy. A decade later, Herman’s nollie inward heel down the big 4 in Barcelona is still a thing of beauty.
3. Heath Kirchart and Jeremy Klein – The End
Song: “Under Pressure” Album: Hot Space
On paper, it looks like a terrible idea: suits, jump ramps, pyrotechnics, and radio rock. In action, there’s something oddly satisfying about watching Jeremy Klein and Heath Kirchart slam on marquee signs, get kicked out of gas stations and strip malls, get faux-drunk, and fall off a pier. My favorite part has to be Kirchart’s full-speed push towards the Blockbuster sign, only to rocket flip and stick immediately as ‘Under Pressure’ kicks in. The Bowie/Queen combo definitely makes the part, as the DVD edit to Tom Petty doesn’t have the energy of the original. Besides that, nothing says “under pressure” more than a cop in the foreground, telling you to “pack it up”.
2. Tom Penny – High Five
Song: “Heroes” Album: Heroes
Although the Berlin trilogy, comprised of Low, Heroes, and Lodger is widely referred to as some of Bowie’s greatest work, skateboarders worldwide still refuse to acknowledge the artist’s catalog beyond 1975. As such, Tom Penny is the only well-known person I can think of to use a Bowie song from this era. Unlike the other entries on this list, there’s no build or progression to this part; rather, it’s an all-out barrage of classic Penny. The minute and change of footage includes a number of tricks over the San Deguito 10 stair rail, a session at Chicken’s pool, and the infamous switch frontside flip down the double set. Of course, we wish there was enough Tom Penny to fill all six minutes of “Heroes”, but in this case, we’ll take what we can get.
1. Arto Saari – Sorry
Song 1: “1984” Album: Diamond Dogs
Song 2: “Rock n’ Roll Suicide” Album: The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
Several factors came together to bring this classic part to fruition. Of course, Saari himself was skating enough to fill two fantastic David Bowie songs (with no slow-mo, to boot), but French Fred was working behind-the-scenes to document the glory days of Flip, Barcelona footage hadn’t lost its luster yet, and the Accel heyday was in full effect. Saari’s part isn’t just the best David Bowie song in a video; it’s some of the best music supervision in skate video history. Not to wax on too much about the skating (because there’s no need to), but some highlights of the part are the back-to-back regular and switch tricks as “1984” fades in, the fakie flip down the MACBA big four to really kick off “Rock n’ Roll Suicide”, and the backside nollie to board break at 4:04, only to land it as Bowie wails at 5:37. Arto Saari and David Bowie are both timeless, and they compliment each other perfectly. Kudos to French Fred for curating a classic skateboarding soundtrack.