The demo was released 35 years after its making, in celebration of what would have been Bowie’s 71st birthday.
Before Let’s Dance was the iconic David Bowie track we know today, it existed in the form of a demo, recorded with Nile Rodgers in 1982. Check it out below.
Let’s Dance was the lead single from Bowie’s 1983 album of the same name. In the year before its release, Nile Rodgers visited Bowie in Geneva, Switzerland, to start working on tracks that would form the record. Upon jamming through a few songs, the pair wanted to get stuck into recording right away and asked the Montreux Jazz festival organiser Claude Nobs if he could pull together some session musicians for them.
The demo was recorded at Mountain Studios in Montreux, Switzerland, with Bowie and Rogers working alongside a drummer and two guitarists. One of the musicians was Erdal Kizilcay, who later worked with Bowie on the soundtracks for Labyrinth and The Buddha Of Suburbia, as well as his concept album, 1.Outside.
In 2018, Rodgers decided to release the demo, re-mixing it at his studio in Connecticut. Speaking on the original sessions he described:
“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 blueprint 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!”.
Have a listen below!