David Bowie, king of turning people down, turned down the Trainspotting soundtrack

Director Danny Boyle couldn't get Bowie to do anything for him


    Since his sad passing, we’ve learned that David Bowie was very good at turning people down. The Thin White Duke gave a big fat no to collaborations with the likes of Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Coldplay. But there’s one man who probably got rejected by Bowie more than anyone else: director Danny Boyle.

    Boyle tried to get Bowie to perform at the 2012 London Olympics, and ended up making Steve Jobs only after Bowie wouldn’t give him permission to make a musical biopic. These are fairly recent events, but it’s come to light that the musician had been turning the director down for years.

    As former EMI A&R Tristram Penna told Dazed, Boyle wanted to use “Golden Years” in his 1996 opus Trainspotting. “[Producer] Andrew [Macdonal] and Danny were desperate for Bowie – if memory serves, [they wanted] ‘Golden Years’ for the toilet scene.” Bowie did what Bowie did and turned them down, so Brian Eno’s “Deep Blue Day” ended up being used for the scene instead.


    But Boyle refused to give up on getting something Bowie in the movie, and that’s when Penna pointed him towards Iggy Pop’s Bowie-produced”Lust for Life”. As Penna explained,

    “I saw a rough cut of the film at a screening room on D’Arblay Street in Soho. It was a mess. I don’t even know who the music supervisor was, but some of the suggestions were just awful and not at all right. I’d always been a huge clubber in London — indie clubs, gay clubs, whatever clubs as long as there was great music — and Iggy Pop’s ‘Lust for Life’ had always been a huge club hit since the BatCave days, so I knew it would get the adrenaline rushing if used in the opening. I remember suggesting the song because [Danny and Andrew] were continually upset that Bowie had turned them down. So they cut it in with ‘Lust for Life’ and it was transformational.”

    Below, re-visit the “worst toilet in Scotland” scene, with “Golden Years” available to stream below so you can picture it as originally envisioned.


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