Supriya Ghosh (Editor)

Cracked Actor (song)

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Released  April 13, 1973
Length  2:56
Writer(s)  David Bowie
Genre  Hard rock, glam rock
Label  RCA
Recorded  Trident Studios, London January 1973

"Cracked Actor" is a song written by David Bowie, originally released on the album Aladdin Sane in April 1973. The track was also issued as a single in Eastern Europe by RCA Records in June that year.


Music and lyrics

One of the album's hard rockers, the song is about an aging Hollywood star in an encounter with a prostitute, the chorus including various allusions to sex and drugs:

Crack, baby, crack, show me you're real Smack, baby, smack, is that all that you feel Suck, baby, suck, give me your head Before you start professing that you're knocking me dead

Rolling Stone suggested that Bowie's goal was "to strip the subject of his validity, as he has done with the rocker, as a step towards a re-definition of these roles and his own inhabiting of them". However NME writers Roy Carr and Charles Shaar Murray considered that the song "reveals little else except that Bowie's capabilities with a mouth-harp are decidedly limited".

Release and aftermath

Following its release on Aladdin Sane, "Cracked Actor" was issued as Bowie's first single for the Russian market, backed with "John, I'm Only Dancing". The timing was supposedly to cash in on publicity emanating from his trip through Eastern Europe on the Trans-Siberian Railway in April–May 1973, shortly before his final Ziggy Stardust tour in the UK.

"Cracked Actor" became a centrepiece of Bowie's 1974 North American tour when he would perform the song wearing sunglasses and holding a skull (à la Hamlet), which he would then proceed to French kiss. The track also gave its name to Alan Yentob's documentary of the tour. In 1983 Bowie revived the song and the sunglasses-and-skull routine for his Serious Moonlight Tour.


  • David Bowie – vocals, harmonica
  • Mick Ronson – electric guitars
  • Trevor Bolder – bass guitar
  • Woody Woodmansey – drums
  • Live versions

  • The live version from the 1974 tour was released on David Live. This version was also released on Rock Concert. Another live recording from the 1974 tour was released on A Portrait in Flesh.
  • A live version recorded at the Hammersmith Odeon, London, on July 3, 1973 was released on Ziggy Stardust – The Motion Picture.
  • A live performance filmed on 12 September 1983 was included on Serious Moonlight (1983 film).
  • A more recent performance of the song, recorded at the BBC Radio Theatre, Portland Place, London on June 27, 2000, appeared on the limited edition bonus disk of Bowie at the Beeb.
  • Other releases

  • The track appeared on the Sound + Vision box set (1989).
  • Cover versions

  • Big Country – Single in 1993, included on the compilation Starman: Rare and Exclusive Versions of 18 Classic David Bowie Songs, CD premium from the March 2003 issue of Uncut magazine
  • Chris Connelly – Single
  • Duff McKagan – B-Side of the Believe in Me Single in 1993
  • Rancid Vat – Single "Bowiecide"
  • Zeta Bane – Spiders from Venus: Indie Women Artists and Female-Fronted Bands Cover David Bowie (2003)
  • Schlechtes Mord-Bumsen – .2 Contamination: A Tribute to David Bowie (2006)
  • Okkervil River – Performed October 15, 2006 at the Bowery Ball Room in New York City
  • Clit 45 – 2, 4, 6, 8... We're the Kids You Love to Hate (2006)
  • Dave Gahan – Performed the song at Club Nokia on May 6, 2011
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers- Performed the song at a fundraising event for presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on February 5, 2016
  • References

    Cracked Actor (song) Wikipedia