Chic’s Nile Rodgers collaborated with David Bowie on his most commercially successful album–1983’s Let’s Dance–and has shared a newly mixed version of the initial demo for the album’s titular single on what would have been Bowie’s 71st birthday. The demo, which Rodgers has released as a digital-only single, was the first effort toward the Let’s Dance album, recorded when Rodgers joined Bowie in Montreux, Switzerland to check out a batch of new songs he’d written. Recorded with a pickup band in December of 1982, it was the first thing Rodgers and Bowie put to tape in the studio, based on an acoustic guitar sketch by Bowie, Rodgers said in a new statement.
The recording is a stripped-down version without the eventual dominant backing singers and additional production bells and whistles. Rodgers also seems to be still in the process of settling on his guitar part here. There’s some charming banter at the end as well; this is the sound of a band realizing they’ve got something good.
Rodgers also released a posthumous George Michael single, “Fantasy,” back in September. Listen and read Rodgers’ full statement about the Bowie demo (“If you played 2nd guitar or drums let us know who you are!”) below.
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!