Charlie's 80s Blog

This Day In 80s Music, May 21st

On this day in 1982: The Hacienda Club opened in Manchester, England. Madonna made her UK TV debut at the club when C4 music show The Tube was broadcast live from there. Many acts including Oasis, Happy Mondays, U2, The Smiths, Charlatans, James, M People all played at the club, (The club closed in 1997).

On this day in 1983: David Bowie went to #1 on the U.S. singles chart with ‘Let’s Dance’, featuring blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan. It was Bowie’s first single to reach #1 on both sides of the Atlantic. The music video was made by David Mallet on location in Australia including a bar in Carinda in New South Wales, featured Bowie playing with his band while impassively watching an Aboriginal couple’s struggles against metaphors of Western cultural imperialism.

Written by Bowie and produced by Nile Rodgers of the band Chic, it was released as the lead single from the Let’s Dance album in March 1983 and went on to become one of his biggest-selling tracks. It was recorded in late 1982 at the Power Station in Manhattan and was the first song recorded for the album.

In late 1982, Nilke Rodgers met David Bowie in the New York after hours club Continental, where the two developed a rapport over industry acquaintances and shared musical interests. Bowie subsequently invited Rodgers to his house in Switzerland, which Rodgers understood to be an audition.

Bowie, using a 12-string acoustic guitar that had only six strings, played Rodgers a 2-chord pattern, which the latter would later describe as “dark sounding” and a “folk song”; Bowie wanted to call it “Let’s Dance” and believed it to be a hit. Rodgers asked if he could arrange the music, moving it higher in the scale, switching the key up to B♭, inverting the chords and adding upstrokes. The two of them went on to record a demo on December 19th and 20th 1982 at Mountain Studios with a group of musicians, among them Erdal Kizilcay on bass.

In 2018, Rodgers recalled “This [demo] 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 blueprint not only for ‘Let’s Dance’ the song but for the entire album as well.”

Here’s a look at the Top 20 on the U.S. singles chart from this day back in 1983:

1 2 LET’S DANCE –•– David Bowie (EMI-America)-9 (1 week at #1) (1)
2 1 BEAT IT –•– Michael Jackson (Epic)-13 (1)
3 7 FLASHDANCE…WHAT A FEELING –•– Irene Cara (Casablanca)-8 (3)
4 4 OVERKILL –•– Men At Work (Columbia)-7 (4)
5 5 SHE BLINDED ME WITH SCIENCE –•– Thomas Dolby (Capitol / Harvest)-14 (5)
6 8 LITTLE RED CORVETTE –•– Prince (Warner Brothers)-13 (6)
7 9 SOLITAIRE –•– Laura Branigan (Atlantic)-10 (7)
8 3 JEOPARDY –•– The Greg Kihn Band (Beserkley)-17 (2)
9 12 MY LOVE –•– Lionel Richie (Motown)-7 (9)
10 17 TIME (Clock Of the Heart) –•– Culture Club (Virgin)-6 (10)

11 10 DER KOMMISSAR –•– After The Fire (Epic)-15 (5)
12 13 PHOTOGRAPH –•– Def Leppard (Mercury)-11 (12)
13 15 STRAIGHT FROM THE HEART –•– Bryan Adams (A&M)-11 (13)
14 14 RIO –•– Duran Duran (Capitol)-8 (14)
15 11 I WON’T HOLD YOU BACK –•– Toto (Columbia)-11 (10)
16 19 AFFAIR OF THE HEART –•– Rick Springfield (RCA)-6 (16)
17 6 COME ON EILEEN –•– Dexys Midnight Runners (Mercury)-18 (1)
18 22 ALWAYS SOMETHING THERE TO REMIND ME –•– Naked Eyes (EMI-America)-11 (18)
19 20 FAITHFULLY –•– Journey (Columbia)-6 (19)
20 23 DON’T LET IT END –•– Styx (A&M)-4 (20)

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