David Bowie: Let’s Dance Demo With Nile Rodgers Surfaces

Nile Rodgers told David Bowie you can’t dance to Let’s Dance when he heard the demo, but the beat still moves.

When David Bowie hit Nile Rodgers with the demo to the song “Let’s Dance,” the producer and guitarist didn’t think it would get asses shaking at Studio 54. Listening back to the previously unreleased demo, he’s changed his tune, and when you change your mind, your ass will follow. Parlophone released the stripped down early take of the 1983 hit to celebrate what would have been Bowie’s 71st birthday.

“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,” Rodgers wrote in a statement at David Bowie’s official site. “He had an acoustic guitar in his hands and exclaimed, “Nile, darling, I think this is a HIT!”.

Rogers said the demo 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!:

Rodgers was a disco maestro. His fingers bounced on guitar strings for the band Chic in rhythmic bursts against a slap-happy bass no hip could ignore without swaying. He infused those beats into dance-floor ready hits for other artists as a producer and side man. Rodgers produced the basic demo, it’s just guitar, drums, bass, and vocals, to “Let’s Dance” on December 19th and 20th, 1982 at Montreux, Switzerland’s Mountain Studios.   

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When Bowie first played “Let’s Dance” for Rodgers in 1982, the producer didn’t hear its club potential.

“I come from dance music,” Rodgers told Bowie according to Rolling Stone. “You can’t call that thing you just played ‘Let’s Dance.'”

That’s when Rodgers syncopated chords and slapped on some bottom. You can hear the demo here:

Rogers said the the demo became the “blue print” for the “entire album as well.” He recorded the Let’s Dance album in 17 days. “The easiest record I’ve ever made in my whole life,” Rogers told Rolling Stone.

Ziggyphiles can get more Ziggy files by turning into David Bowie: The Last Five Years tonight, Monday, Jan. 8 at 8:00 p.m. ET on HBO.