Walk on the Wild Side (4:14)

Cover of Transformer

From Transformer and 286 other releases

“Walk on the Wild Side” is a Lou Reed song from his 1972 second solo album Transformer. It was produced by David Bowie. The song received wide radio coverage, despite its touching on taboo topics such as transsexuality, drugs, male prostitutes and oral sex. In the United States, RCA released an edited version of the song as a single which eliminated the song’s reference to oral sex.

The lyrics, describing a series of individuals and their journeys to New York City, refer to several of the regular “superstars” at Andy Warhol’s New York studio, The Factory, namely Holly Woodlawn, Candy Darling, Joe Dallesandro, Jackie Curtis and Joe Campbell (referred to in the song by his nickname Sugar Plum Fairy). Candy Darling was also the subject of Reed’s earlier song for The Velvet Underground, Candy Says.

The saxophone solo played over the fadeout of the song was performed by Ronnie Ross, who had taught David Bowie to play the saxophone during Bowie’s childhood.
The backing vocals were sung by Thunderthighs, a girl group that included founder Dari Lallou together with Karen Friedman, Jacki Campbell and Casey Synge.
The single peaked at #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles charts in early 1973.

Like many of Reed’s songs, “Walk On The Wild Side” is based on a plagal cadence, alternating from C to F. The F is played as a sixth chord. The pre-chorus introduces the major second, D Major, although in some live performances this was changed to D minor, resulting in a completely diatonic song.

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