David Bowie Let’s Dance at 30

“Let’s Dance liberated a whole generation of David Bowie fans who no longer had to pretend that they were following a lunatic, a cultist, a strange beast from outer space. It’s when we felt vindicated and it’s the year that Bowie stamped his authority on popular culture and became an absolute superstar.” 
David Buckley, Author

The immense media attention surrounding the 2013 release of The Next Day, David Bowie’s first new album in ten years, coupled with the his triumphant (sell out) exhibition at London’s V&A museum, gave the singer international prominence matched only by the popularity he achieved thirty years earlier with the release of his Let’s Dance album and his Serious Moonlight world tour.

“Let’s Dance at 30″ looks back at this pivotal time in Bowie’s career and explores his successful repositioning as a ‘mainstream insider’ in 1983. By jettisoning his trusted group of long-serving musicians and producers and teaming up with Disco legend Nile Rodgers, Bowie made a calculated decision to create a completely different sound to his previous albums – and challenged preconceptions with a far more accessible public image.

Although this commercial repackaging ultimately paid off in terms of sales, it made him vulnerable to adverse criticism and risked a loyal fan base, more familiar with his outsider status. This documentary investigates the experimental techniques behind the album’s unique sound, and reveals why lead guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan was fired just days before the launch of 1983’s “Serious Moonlight” world tour.

Mark Sutherland, music journalist and former NME editor, and Bowie biographer David Buckley dissect the album track by track. Other contributors include “Let’s Dance” engineer and mixer Bob Clearmountain, Duran Duran’s John Taylor, pop producer Pete Waterman, and Bowie backing singer Frank Simms.

Original, on-location interviews were recorded over a five-year period in New York, Auckland, Los Angeles, London and Munich. Archived interview clips with Bowie were sourced from the BBC audio libraries.

DAB station Absolute Eighties first broadcast the documentary on the 14th of April 2013 – exactly 30 years to the day when the album was first released. It was also replayed on Absolute Classic Rock as well as Absolute Radio – who played the version featured below on Boxing Day, 2013.