The Velvet Underground & David Bowie – The Forefathers of Punk


I originally made this playlist about a month ago, after I put together my Peter Murphy and Gary Numan playlist, because I knew I needed to recognize the forefathers of Punk music. I had this post in my editorial calendar to post next month, but as David Bowie sadly passed away on January 10, I think this is a good time to post this instead of waiting. Both David Bowie and The Velvet Underground paved the way for the Punk explosion of the mid 1970’s, but I will get back to that in a moment…




Bowie’s passing devastated me, as it did many others around the world. Cancer is a bitch and openly lets us all know that even the famous, nor all the money in the world cannot buy your health back from its deadly clutches. When it is your time, it takes you down a slow and painful downward spiral.

Bowie StarmanI never thought a musician, artist or someone I never met could have such an impact on me with their death. I was shaken to my core. I felt like I was in a bad dream and was waiting to wake up to find that Starman did not in fact return to his home in the sky. I was saddened by Lou Reed’s death in 2013, but it didn’t have quite the impact that David Bowie did. 

David Bowie’s music, lyrics, style and artistic influence made an impact on me as a child.

Being the youngest out of three, I was exposed to a lot of great classic music as a child. Some of my faves include Elton John, Genesis, Journey, and of course David Bowie. Space Oddity was a favorite of mine as a young child – it was different from any other song being played over the airwaves, and it struck a chord inside of me. It remains a timeless classic, as does most of his musical catalog.

As most young teenagers in the 1980’s, I fell further in love with Bowie when he played Jareth in Labyrinth. I couldn’t get enough of him, his sometimes androgynous style, and his music.  He lit the fire of individuality inside my soul, one that took me many years to show the world. 

I was a Rebel Rebel from Suffragette City and he was my Starman blazing the way.

But I digress…

Velvet Underground Bowie

The Velvet Underground and David Bowie – these musical pioneers stepped out and changed the fabric of music, and style, forever. 

Art Rock was an avant-garde, experimental genre of music that began in the 1960’s. David Bowie and The Velvet Underground fell right into this new style and are the best examples of this era of music. Art Rock musicians like to push the envelope and experiment with new sounds and outlooks in rock and roll.

Andy Warhol even joined in with this experimental sub-genre when he managed The Velvet Underground and had them add in the talents of Nico. The Velvet Underground & Nico album catapulted the bands vision and popularity, even though it did cause a bit of a rift in the group. 

This album is iconic even though it did not reach commercial success or acclaim upon release – this album, produced by Andy Warhol (even though there are arguments about this fact), only sold around 30,000 copies upon original release. The Velvet Underground & Nico album is on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, at number thirteen for being one of the most influential and critically acclaimed albums of all time. 

David Bowie’s cutting edge release of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars in 1972 was earth shattering and like The Velvet Underground & Nico, made its way into the Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums of All Time at number 35.

This album was one of his greatest accomplishments, and the song Ziggy Stardust has been remade many times over the years, one in particular was by Bauhaus, one of the original Post-Punk Goth bands influenced by Bowie. Bowie established himself with Ziggy Stardust as an artist and a chameleon who constantly changed his persona to reinvent himself and his music.

“The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust is about a bisexual alien rock superstar; the concept album sheds a light on the artificiality of rock music in general, discussing issues of politics, drug use, and sexual orientation.” *(McLeod, Ken. “Space Oddities: Aliens, Futurism and Meaning in Popular Music.”)

The world was listening and waiting to see what these greats were going to spawn with their musical rebellion. People were hungry and ready for something different to make others take notice.

And then there was Iggy… 

Iggy Pop had been around the music scene since around the time The Velvet Underground formed, but he took this avant-garde style and brought it screaming and kicking out into the forefront of music. He and Bowie met in 1971 and Pop saw a definite boost in his career thanks to this new relationship.

In the wake of Bowie’s untimely death, Iggy Pop said of Bowie in an interview this week with Jon Parales from The New York Times:

“The friendship was basically that this guy salvaged me from certain professional and maybe personal annihilation — simple as that,” said Mr. Pop, who is 68. “A lot of people were curious about me, but only he was the one who had enough truly in common with me, and who actually really liked what I did and could get on board with it, and who also had decent enough intentions to help me out. He did a good thing.” 

Iggy Pop is one of the most influential Punk artists, with his outrageous stage antics and energy – a real poster child for Punk Rock. One can thank the influence of not only Bowie on Pop, but Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground as well, for Pop’s breakthrough and blazing the trail for Punk to explode.

Bowie Iggy Lou

There is no doubt that together, The Velvet Underground and David Bowie are the true undisputed Forefathers of Punk Rock, which spawned not only the Post-Punk, New Wave and New Romantic genres, but also had a big influence on other 80’s music, as well as Goth.

RIP Lou Reed and David Bowie – your musical legacies will never die. 

forefathers of punk


  1. Space Oddity (original video) – David Bowie
  2. White Light/White Heat – The Velvet Underground
  3. Heroes – David Bowie
  4. Sweet Jane (with intro) – Lou Reed
  5. The Man Who Sold The World – David Bowie
  6. After Hours – The Velvet Underground
  7. Starman – David Bowie
  8. Femme Fatale – The Velvet Underground
  9. Oh! You Pretty Things – David Bowie
  10. I’m Waiting for The Man – The Velvet Underground
  11. Queen Bitch – David Bowie
  12. Venus in Furs – The Velvet Underground
  13. Changes – David Bowie
  14. Ride Into The Sun – The Velvet Underground
  15. John, I’m Only Dancing – David Bowie
  16. Sunday Morning – The Velvet Underground
  17. Rebel Rebel – David Bowie
  18. Rock and Roll – The Velvet Underground
  19. Fame – David Bowie
  20. Pale Blue Eyes – The Velvet Underground
  21. Ziggy Stardust – David Bowie
  22. Heroin – The Velvet Underground
  23. Golden Years – David Bowie
  24. The Black Angel’s Death Song – The Velvet Underground
  25. Moonage Daydream – David Bowie
  26. All Tomorrow’s Parties – The Velvet Underground
  27. Sorrow – David Bowie
  28. She’s My Best Friend – The Velvet Underground
  29. Diamond Dogs – David Bowie
  30. Run Run Run – The Velvet Underground
  31. Panic in Detroit – David Bowie
  32. I Heard Her Call My Name – The Velvet Underground
  33. All The Young Dudes – David Bowie
  34. Temptation Inside Your Heart – The Velvet Underground
  35. Life on Mars – David Bowie
  36. Suffragette City – David Bowie
  37. Walk on The Wild Side – Lou Reed
  38. Queen Bitch – Lou Reed & David Bowie
  39. Dirty Boulevard & White Light/White Heat – Lou Reed & David Bowie
  40. The Passenger – Iggy Pop & David Bowie