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From Bob Fosse to David Bowie

David Blot

The 70’s and 80’s were rich in legendary artists. Reporter David Blot leads us in the discovery of five key moments, from incredible jam-sessions, to mind-blowing encounters between rock, soul and pop. Unbelievable!

When Bob Fosse invented the Moonwalk
Ahhhh Michael, the genius, those incredible dance moves, the famous “Moonwalk”. Except that…the inventor was not necessarily Michael. Watch this televised clip of an American adaptation of our national Little Prince (good indeed, but very far from Saint-Exupéry). At one point, the most famous of American choreographers, Bob Fosse, starts to perform the song of the Serpent. Everything is there: the look, the clothes, the dance moves, the Moonwalk! To be honest, Michael, who saw the program live on TV in 1974, never hid what he owed to Bob Fosse. But we did not have the pictures to verify it! Electrifiying!


When Prince and Michael sing for James Brown
James Brown in concert in 1983 was already a must-see. But here it is downright surreal, the three biggest stars of black American music of the late twentieth century (James, Prince and Michael) together. Almost. It’s James Brown’s birthday. He knows that Michael is in the room. Michael, dying with shyness, goes on stage regardless, does three stunning dance moves and sings a heart-wrenching rendition “I love you”. Perfect. But there was also Prince in the room. While eclipsed by Michael, Prince gets on stage and takes out all the stops, including Hendrix’s guitar. It is hysteria in the room. It’s also pretty funny. At 2:17, Prince throws a glove into the crowd, which is promptly hurled, back at his face. And Prince, again, clings to a prop, and brings it crashing down to the ground at 4:46. Ok, the video quality is distinctly average, but the groove is unique!

When David Bowie scares 1970’s America
We are at the end of 1974. David Bowie is not a mega star in the U.S. yet, but he is garnering some intrigue. Especially when it comes to recording his new album there. Between the end of the glam rock period of “Aladdin Sane” and the beginning of the glitter soul of “Young Americans”, David Bowie is doing a promo gig on Dick Cavett’s family talk show. In other words, an alien landed on TV. At his absolute thinnest, completely intoxicated, Bowie, terrified, makes a few quips, laughs as though he is on helium and taps his cane nervously on the ground. Cavett had fun. America, not so much. It must be said that at the time Bowie was fed only (as the legend goes) on yogurt, fruit and cocaine! Nevertheless: musically, he is at his peak, so high in fact that he didn’t come down for at least ten years.

When David Bowie reassures 1970’s France
And behold, just three years later, look who’s back on our radars! David Bowie interviewed in the middle of a Sunday afternoon by…Michel Drucker, yes, yes! And notice how Bowie is friendly, affable and charismatic, in short, literally, at home in his sneakers. The transformation from 1974 is radical. Drucker, on the other hand, is still not very good at English and only translates about one sentence out of ten correctly. Which is pretty funny.

When Quincy and Herbie discover the machines
And, finally, as a gift to our “nerd” friends and technophiles. Two of the pioneers of jazz and soul, Quincy Jones and Herbie Hancock, playing with machines in 1983. A producer’s dream. And an absolute time warp: seeing Herbie make his rhythms directly on the screen with a small touch pen is hard to believe. At the same time, elsewhere, Steve Jobs had come out with the Apple II. And the future of technology was written.

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