Happy Birthday David Bowie: ‘Let’s Dance’ Demo

 Photo by Jimmy King

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Among the many hit songs David Bowie recorded during his landmark career was “Let’s Dance,” the title track to his standout 1983 album. Today would have been Bowie’s 71st birthday, and his longtime collaborator Nile Rodgers has shared a demo of “Let’s Dance” in honor of his late friend.

Rodgers and Bowie co-produced “Let’s Dance” during sessions held in 1982 in Montreux, Switzerland. Engineer David Richards was at the board at Mountain Studios on December 19 and 20. Bowie provided vocals alongside Rodgers’ guitar and the pair was joined by Turkish-born bassist Erdal Kizilcay who would work extensively with Bowie in subsequent years, on projects including Labyrinth and others. An unknown second guitar player and drummer were also part of the sessions.

Rodgers and Russell Graham mixed the demo at the former’s Westport, Connecticut-based Le Crib Studios in November of last year. Rodgers shared this note along with the demo recording:

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!

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Stream the “Let’s Dance” demo here:

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