easy guitar songs

How to Play Guitar Like David Bowie: Celebrating A Legend

easy guitar songs

The best way to celebrate the life of music legend David Bowie is to remember his impact and play his songs. Here, guitar instructor Matt K. teaches you to play five easy guitar songs that Bowie made famous..

The recent passing of rock ‘n’ roll icon David Bowie sent a shockwave through the world. Bowie’s music and message meant so much to so many people. He had the talent to remain relevant within the entertainment industry since his big break with Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars in 1972.

He created 27 full-length albums, appeared in over 20 films and television series, and was a part of countless collaborations. He also wrote the famous “All the Young Dudes” for Mott The Hoople, just because he liked the band and they needed a hit to prevent them from breaking up. From “Life On Mars” to “Lazarus“, his music is a major reason why many, including myself, picked up an instrument and began to play.

I’ve compiled a list of five easy guitar songs, which are essential Bowie hits. Each song has the signature riff on guitar written in tablature, or the chords that shape it.


“The Man Who Sold the World” – 1970

I’m going to start with “The Man Who Sold the World” because many of you probably think Kurt Cobain wrote this for Nirvana. They did a cover of the song on MTV Unplugged in 1994.

It features a very simple riff that serves as a hook throughout the song.
E – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – }
B – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – }
G 2 2 2 0 2h3 2 0 2 2 2 0 2h3 2 0 2 2 2 0 2h3 2 0 2 2 2 0 2h3 2 0 2 }
D – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – }
A – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – }
E – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – }

You can find the rest of the tab here.


“Ziggy Stardust”

Ziggy Stardust was David Bowie’s alter ego that catapulted him to success in 1972. This was when the American public was first truly introduced to David Bowie.
G x D Cadd9 G Am
E|3——-x——-2-3-2-3-2—2—|——————————–|
B|3——-x——-3—3—3—3—|–3—–3—–3—–3—–3—3-| G|0——-x——-2———–2—|0—0——-0—0—————| D|0——-x——-0—————|——————————–| A|2——-x———————–|3—–3—–2—–2—–0—0—| E|3——-x———————–|——————————–|

Get the full Ziggy Stardust tab here.


“Rebel Rebel” – 1974

Next, on our list of easy guitar songs, we have one of the most recognized guitar riffs in the history of rock “n” roll. Like “Ziggy Stardust, the following riff drives the entire song.

E|—-0————|——————-|
B|—-5—3—2-0.-|0—–0-2p0——–|
G|——-(2)–2-1.-|1———–1——|
D|-0————2.-|2————-2—-|
A|—————–|——————-|
E|—————–|——————-|

P = pull off

“Rebel Rebel” tab from Ultimate Guitar.


“Fame” – 1975

“Fame” was a popular song that was released at the height of Bowie’s popularity. He was an established rock star with several hits under his belt.

This song was co-written by John Lennon. He also provided backing vocals.

E|—————–|——————|
B|–9b————-|——————|
G|–8b—8-8-7-s8–|-8–7-8-7-8-7-s8–|
D|——-7-7-6-s7–|-7–6-7-6-7-6-s7–|
A|—————–|——————|
E|—————–|——————|

b =bend up
s = slide

Here is a great video that explains the song.


“Heros” 1977

“Heros” is the outlier on this easy guitar songs list. It doesn’t feature a signature riff like the previous four. The emotion belted out at the end of the song makes the song Bowie’s most inspirational.

Here are the chords and lyrics:

D G
I – I wish you could swim
D G
Like the dolphins – like dolphins can swim
C D
Though nothing – nothing will keep us together
Am Em D
We can beat them forever and ever
C G D
Oh we can be Heroes just for one day

You can find the rest of the chords here:

If that is too much, try the bass line.:
G|————————————————-|
D|————————————————-|

A|——-5-5———5-5—–2-0———-2-0——|

E|55-7-5——55-7-5——33—–3-3—33—–3-3–|

There was  one song I left out from this list of easy guitar songs, “Space Oddity”, because it has a few techniques that may be new for beginners. If you want to learn how to play the David Bowie hit, check out this”Space Oddity” video tutorial.

David Bowie’s memory will live on forever through his music. Celebrate his life and learn to play his songs! 


Matthew KPost Author:
 Matt K.
Matthew K. teaches guitar, piano, and music theory lessons in Brooklyn, NY. He studied music composition at Mercyhurst University, and he has been teaching lessons for four years. Matthew is available to teach in-person lessons as well as online via Skype. Learn more about Matthew here!

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