Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’ demo has just been released to mark what would have been the rock icon’s 71st birthday on the 8 January.

Nile Rodgers, the disco wizard, has spoken about the recording of ‘Let’s Dance’ and how he helped Bowie find his groove and return to pop stardom.

The previously unreleased demo presents “Let’s Dance” in its bare bones form and features some slightly different guitar parts with Bowie’s singing thrust to the song’s forefront but retains the disco funky attitude of the original hit.

Nile Rodgers, who produced 1983’s Let’s Dance, recorded this stripped-down version of the hit single with Bowie on December 19th and 20th, 1982 at Montreux, Switzerland’s Mountain Studios.

“I’ve been blessed with a wonderful career but my creative partnership with David Bowie ranks very, very, very high on the list of my most important and rewarding collaborations,” Rodgers said in a statement. “This demo gives you, the fans, a bird’s eye view of the very start of it! I woke up on my first morning in Montreux with David peering over me. He had an acoustic guitar in his hands and exclaimed, ‘Nile, darling, I think this is a HIT!'”

A band made up of local musicians was formed specifically for this recording of “Let’s Dance” because Bowie was eager to lay down the track, and for this reason the identities of the drummer and second guitarist on the recording are still unknown. (“If you played 2nd guitar or drums let us know who you are,” Rodgers said)

Thirty-five years after recording the demo, Rodgers mixed the track at his Connecticut studio specifically for its digital-only release. The demo ends with Bowie exclaiming, “That’s it! That’s it! Got it,” as if he knew he had just recorded one of his biggest hits.

“This recording was the first indication of what we could do together as I took his ‘folk song’ and arranged it into something that the entire world would soon be dancing to and seemingly has not stopped dancing to for the last 35 years! It became the blueprint not only for ‘Let’s Dance’ the song but for the entire album as well,” Rodgers said.

“The time we spent mixing it just before Christmas was full of tears as it felt like David was in the room with us. Happy Birthday David, I love you and we all miss you!”

‘Let’s Dance’ went on to top the UK and US singles chart in 1983, and became one of Bowie’s most famous songs. After the singer’s death at the beginning of 2016, the song re-entered the UK charts, reaching number 23.

Bowie died on the 10 January 2016, just two days after his 69th birthday, following a battle with cancer.

Article by Valentina Guidi. 


George Millington