"Panic in Detroit" is a song written by David Bowie for the album Aladdin Sane in 1973. Bowie based it on friend Iggy Pop's descriptions of revolutionaries he had known as a youth in Michigan. It is also interpreted as being written about the 1967 Detroit riots. Rolling Stone magazine called the track "a paranoid descendant of the Motor City's earlier masterpiece, Martha and the Vandellas' "Nowhere to Run"".
Musically "Panic in Detroit" has been described as a "Salsa variation on the Bo Diddley beat", and features prominent conga drums and female backing vocals. The lyrics namecheck Che Guevara and are also said to contain references to John Sinclair of the White Panther Party.
Bowie played the song live on tour in 1973, 1974, 1976, 1990, 1997, and 2003-4.
In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine printed its list of "The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time". Mick Ronson was ranked at #64, and "Panic in Detroit" as his "essential recording".
A live version recorded on July 14, 1974 was released as the B-side of the single "Knock on Wood" in 1974. The same version was also released as the B-side of the US-only single "Rock 'n' Roll With Me" in 1974, on the compilation album Rare in 1983, and...