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How Bowie ushered in the 80s on SNL 35 years ago

Total Blam Blam's picture
on December 15, 2014

 

“Clothes always fit ya”

 

Broadcast live on 15th December 1979 in New York, David Bowie’s appearance on Saturday Night Live is frequently listed as having been broadcast on 5th January 1980.

The airdate was actually 15th December, with the title of the show, Saturday Night Live, being a bit of a clue too! (Scroll images for the original TV listing kindly supplied by Bill DeBlonk)

This was an important broadcast and along with the 1980 Floor Show it seems to have had a similarly persuasive effect on a lot of young Americans that Starman on TOTPs in 1972 and the BBC’s 1975 Cracked Actor documentary had on UK teenagers.

Bowie performed "The Man Who Sold the World," "TVC 15" and “Boys Keep Swinging”, with extraordinary guest appearances from Klaus Nomi and Joey Arias. The show was hosted by the actor Martin Sheen.

For “The Man Who Sold the World” Bowie was lifted and positioned in front of the microphone by Klaus and Joey in a costume that rendered him immobile, while his man-handlers provided extraordinary backing vocals. (Watch Andrew Horn’s superb film The Nomi Song: The Klaus Nomi Odyssey if you’re not already familiar with Klaus)

Designed by Mark Ravitz and Bowie, and inspired by Sonia Delaunay’s designs for Tristan Tzara’s 1923 play Le Cœur à gaz (The Gas Heart), this outfit was possibly the most bizarre thing Bowie ever wore onstage...and possibly offstage too! Scroll the images here to view pictures of this brilliant creation.

The skirt suit that David is wearing on the right of our montage was designed by Brooks Van Horn costume house, New York, and was worn for "TVC 15", the song that also showcased a toy pink poodle/TV monitor.

The other picture shows DB operating a puppet while utilising green-screen technology for “Boys Keep Swinging” to hilarious effect.

In an absurd move the show’s producers blanked the line "Other boys check you out" but seemingly missed the puppet’s obvious excitement at the climax of the song.

Words cannot do Bowie’s SNL appearance justice, suffice to say, it remains among the most surreal television performances broadcast anywhere, ever.

If you've never seen this piece of TV history, prepare to be captivated by all three songs here on Vimeo.

blog image: 
    15 December 2014
    How Bowie ushered in the 80s on SNL 35 years ago

     

    “Clothes always fit ya”

     

    Broadcast live on 15th December 1979 in New York, David Bowie’s appearance on Saturday Night Live is frequently listed as having been broadcast on 5th January 1980.

    The airdate was actually 15th December, with the title of the show, Saturday Night Live, being a bit of a clue too! (Scroll images for the original TV listing kindly supplied by Bill DeBlonk)

    This was an important broadcast and along with the 1980 Floor Show it seems to have had a similarly persuasive effect on a lot of young Americans that Starman on TOTPs in 1972 and the BBC’s 1975 Cracked Actor documentary had on UK teenagers.

    Bowie performed "The Man Who Sold the World," "TVC 15" and “Boys Keep Swinging”, with extraordinary guest appearances from Klaus Nomi and Joey Arias. The show was hosted by the actor Martin Sheen.

    For “The Man Who Sold the World” Bowie was lifted and positioned in front of the microphone by Klaus and Joey in a costume that rendered him immobile, while his man-handlers provided extraordinary backing vocals. (Watch Andrew Horn’s superb film The Nomi Song: The Klaus Nomi Odyssey if you’re not already familiar with Klaus)

    Designed by Mark Ravitz and Bowie, and inspired by Sonia Delaunay’s designs for Tristan Tzara’s 1923 play Le Cœur à gaz (The Gas Heart), this outfit was possibly the most bizarre thing Bowie ever wore onstage...and possibly offstage too! Scroll the images here to view pictures of this brilliant creation.

    The skirt suit that David is wearing on the right of our montage was designed by Brooks Van Horn costume house, New York, and was worn for "TVC 15", the song that also showcased a toy pink poodle/TV monitor.

    The other picture shows DB operating a puppet while utilising green-screen technology for “Boys Keep Swinging” to hilarious effect.

    In an absurd move the show’s producers blanked the line "Other boys check you out" but seemingly missed the puppet’s obvious excitement at the climax of the song.

    Words cannot do Bowie’s SNL appearance justice, suffice to say, it remains among the most surreal television performances broadcast anywhere, ever.

    If you've never seen this piece of TV history, prepare to be captivated by all three songs here on Vimeo.