David Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’ Demo Arrives on Birthday

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On David Bowie‘s birthday, a demo version of his big 1983 hit has been released digitally. Bowie’s social media accounts had first teased the release on Christmas Day with #BowieTeaser.

Sunday night (Jan. 8 in the U.K.), the following was posted on the performer’s Facebook page:

“To celebrate what would have been the 71st birthday of David Bowie, the previously unreleased ‘Let’s Dance (Demo)’ is available now as a special digital-only single via Parlophone for streaming and download.”

Listen to it below.

“In late 1982, David Bowie was visited at his home in Switzerland by Nile Rodgers to listen to songs for the album that became LET’S DANCE.

“Inspired by the new songs that Bowie had written the pair decided to record a set of demos straight away. Without a band, the Montreux Jazz Festival organiser, Claude Nobs, was asked if there were any local musicians that could join the sessions to work on the demos. Turkish born Erdal Kızılçay, who would later work extensively with Bowie on Labyrinth, The Buddha Of Suburbia & 1. Outside, was recruited to play bass along with an unidentified drummer and second guitarist.

“On 19th and 20th December, 1982, this makeshift band entered Mountain Studios in Montreux, Switzerland with David Richards (who also worked with Bowie on ‘Heroes’, ‘Under Pressure,’ and others) engineering. On their first day, they recorded a funky stripped back demo for ‘Let’s Dance’.

“Thirty five years later the track has been mixed for the first time especially for this release.” #BowieLetsDance

Rodgers noted:

“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. 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!’

“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 blue print not only for ‘Let’s Dance’ the song but for the entire album as well.

“If you played 2nd guitar or drums let us know who you are!

“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!”

At the end of the track, Bowie’s voice can be heard laughing saying “That’s it, that’s it! Got it, got it!” Within four months ‘Let’s Dance’ would be one of the biggest and most influential hits of the decade.

Listen to the “Let’s Dance (Demo)”

While Bowie had continued to have singles success in the U.K., the “Let’s Dance” single represented a big comeback for Bowie in the U.S. where he hadn’t had a Top 20 pop single since 1975.

The Let’s Dance album was released on April 14, 1983. Bowie’s 15th studio album was also his first for EMI after his career on RCA Records. The LP was a gargantuan success, yielding three hit singles: the title cut (#1 worldwide), “China Girl” (#2 U.K., #10 U.S.) and “Modern Love” (#2 U.K., #14 U.S.). Let’s Dance was nominated for the Grammy Award for Album of the Year (losing to Michael Jackson’s Thriller).

Watch the video for the song’s official version

Related: Bowie was honored with Royal Mail stamps in 2017

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