‘Let’s Dance’ demo released to mark David Bowie’s birthday

The late pop icon would have turned 71 today

Today would have been David Bowie’s 71st birthday. To mark the occasion, the late pop icon’s record label Parlophone have revealed a long lost demo of his hit “Let’s Dance”.

“Let’s Dance” appeared on Bowie’s 1983 album of the same name. The track was first recorded in demo form a year earlier in Montreaux, Switzerland with a makeshift band including Nile Rodgers, bassist Erdal Kızılçay, enginner David Richards, and unidentified local musicians.

Now, 35 years later, the demo has been mixed by Nile Rodgers and released to the public. It’s very different to the version that people will be familiar with, lacking the huge sound of the single version and being stripped down to its core instruments, but it’s still clearly a hit. The demo ends in a bittersweet way, with Bowie’s audible delight at nailing the recording: “That’s it, that’s it! Got it, got it!” he laughs.

“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,” Nile Rodgers says in a statement. “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!’”

He continues: “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.”

Rodgers’ statement also includes a request for the local musicians who played on the track to get in touch. “If you played 2nd guitar or drums let us know who you are,” he says.

“The time we spent mixing it just before Christmas was full of tears as it felt like David was in the room with us,” Rodgers concludes. “Happy Birthday David, I love you and we all miss you!”

This Wednesday (January 10) marks two years since David Bowie died. Listen to the “Let’s Dance” demo above and the original version below.