David Bowie’s reinvention in the 1980s has been uncovered in a new Uncut feature, featuring a series of new interviews and anecdotes from the late star’s colleagues and friends.
The feature begins by exploring Bowie’s record deal with EMI America in 1983 after he left RCA once his tenure with the company was up.
Signing for a reported $17 million, the piece looks at how Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’ – co-produced by Chic’s Nile Rogers and recorded in just 17 days – was EMI’s fastest-selling album since The Beatles’ ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club’, bringing Bowie even more popularity.
Rogers also spoke to Uncut for the feature. “Diehard Bowie fans act like those records of the ’70’s – Ziggy Stardust, Pin Ups and the others – were these massive records, but they weren’t,” he said.
“They were interesting, wonderful, theatrical rock’n’roll records. They were great artistic products, but they weren’t ‘Let’s Dance’. We’ve got to be honest, the numbers tell the story.”
He continued: “I know people who’d never heard David Bowie, but when they heard the song ‘Let’s Dance’ – boom! – they went out and bought that record.”
Bowie’s transformation in the 1980’s is also told through his former band mates, such as Carlos Alomar who recounts Bowie’s album launch at London’s Claridge’s hotel, detailing his journey into writing more “popular” tracks during the ‘Let’s Dance’ period of his career.
“I was looking at him and thinking, ‘Wow, something’s happened. He looks healthy, he’s enthusiastic, he’s smiling, he’s raring to go.’ He was like that guy who loves boxing and every time you meet him he’s hitting some hidden punching bag. And this had nothing to do with drugs. It was lovely to see.”
The feature also includes Bowie’s reflections of the period using interview material from the Uncut archives. After the unexpected success of ‘Let’s Dance’, Bowie admitted to struggling with the accompanying fame.
“I was a pretty lonely, strung out kind of guy. Just wasted in a way,” Bowie told Uncut in 1999.
The latest issue of Uncut featuring the Bowie piece is out now, and can be bought here.
In other recent Bowie news, the first-known David Bowie recording sold at auction for nearly £40,000 earlier this month.