"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 prostitution and oral sex. In the United States, RCA released the single using an edited version of the song without the 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 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.
The song is also noted for its twin interlocking bass lines played by Herbie Flowers on double bass and overdubbed fretless bass guitar. In an interview on BBC Radio 4 ("Playing Second Fiddle", aired July 2005), Flowers claimed that the reason he came up with the twin bass line was that as a session musician he would be paid double for playing two instruments on the same track.