On the David Bowie documentary Five Years, made before his death, and rescreened recently by the BBC, his former bass player Trevor Bolding, one of the Spiders from Mars, says of Bowie and Ziggy Stardust,
He’s good at stealing. You’ve only got to look at Ziggy, really, there’s a lot of Lou Reed in there, a lot of Iggy Pop in there, a lot of all sorts of influences in there. He would steal them.
Bolding has a little bit of an axe to grind, since he was part of the band that was famously fired onstage at Hammersmith Odeon at the end of the Ziggy Stardust tour. But of course, he’s also telling the truth. Bowie was a magpie, albeit a magpie who seemed to listen to everything, and especially the stuff at the edges.
If he did steal from Iggy Pop and Lou Reed, he also repaid them both handsomely. He co-produced Transformer for Lou Reed, Reed’s most commercially sucessful record, though without much thanks. And as Hugo Wilcken reminds us in his book on Low, Bowie launched Iggy’s solo career by co-writing and producing The Idiot in the sessions in France that also produced Low.