Iggy Pop told the New York Times that David Bowie actually wrote the main riff in “Lust for Life,” or rather, lifted it from a beeping technical signal they heard on Armed Forces Radio in Bowie’s Berlin apartment.
Mr. Pop and Mr. Bowie, seated on the floor — they had decided chairs were not natural — were waiting for the Armed Forces Network telecast of “Starsky & Hutch.” The network started shows with a call signal that, Mr. Pop said, went “beep beep beep, beep beep beep beep, beep beep beep,” the rhythm, which is also like a Motown beat, that was the foundation for “Lust for Life.” Mr. Pop recalled, “He wrote the [chord] progression on ukulele, and he said, ‘Call it “Lust for Life,” write something up.’” (Source)
I’ve had similar experiences where I notice something interesting but am too hesitant or lazy to follow up on it creatively, but an older mentor tells me, “If you find it that interesting, make something out of it!”
Thanks to other Wikity users for posting this NYT article, which I loved when it was first published.