Madness flattered but “pissed off” at David Bowie “stealing” from ‘My Girl’

"Job well done, I'd say!"

Madness’ drummer has spoken of how David Bowie‘s attempt to copy the drums from their song ‘My Girl’ left them with an “inflated ego” but also “pissed off” as a result.

The comments come from the ska icons’ new memoir Before We Was We, as the band discussed their reaction to learning that Bowie had borrowed from their single for his 1980 hit ‘Ashes To Ashes’.

“Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley produced ‘Absolute Beginners’ for David Bowie, and Clive told me a story that Bowie had told him about ‘Ashes to Ashes’, which came out only a few months after ‘My Girl’,” wrote drummer Dan ‘Woody’ Woodgate, in an excerpt obtained by Metro.


“Bowie had said that he’d been looking for a drummer to do the ‘My Girl’ beats on ‘Ashes to Ashes’ and he couldn’t find one that had the same feeling as me. He’d said, ‘There’s something about the feel that’s really great, and none of the American drummers could do it’. Clive went to me, ‘Woody, you do realise that if you put ‘Ashes to Ashes’ up against ‘My Girl’, it’s exactly the same?”

Woodgate continued: “Anyway, it kind of inflated my ego and pissed me off at the same time. I thought, ‘David Bowie could have fucking asked me!'”

Madness keyboardist Mike Barson then added: “Well, I don’t want to tell you about what I stole off Bowie! I mean, I think everybody steals a bit.

“But, in a month of Sundays, you wouldn’t recognise that ‘My Girl’ influence on ‘Ashes to Ashes’. So, job well done, I’d say.”


This week has also saw Alan Moore reveal how David Bowie asked to play the role of Rorschach in a Watchmen adaptation.

“I did hear that when Terry Gilliam was supposed to be doing Watchmen back in the 1980s,” he said. “I remember he told me that he’d had a number of phone calls from David Bowie asking to play the Rorschach character.”