When Bowie & Jagger’s “Dancing in the Street” Music Video Becomes a Silent Film

You might remem­ber it. Back in 1985, Mick Jag­ger and David Bowie record­ed “Danc­ing in the Street” to raise mon­ey for Live Aid, the famine relief mega-con­certs orga­nized by Bob Geld­of. Orig­i­nal­ly writ­ten by Mar­vin Gaye, and first made famous by Martha and the Van­del­las in 1964, “Danc­ing in the Street” topped the British charts when Bowie and Jag­ger record­ed their ver­sion in 13 short hours. The col­lab­o­ra­tion also yield­ed what’s pos­si­bly the worst music video ever made. Or so this sur­vey by The Guardian would con­clude. NME ranks it as the 11th worst of all-time.

Shot by David Mal­let at the Lon­don Dock­lands, the orig­i­nal video (see below) fea­tures “Bowie in an over­sized yel­low rain­coat and leop­ar­dish jump­suit and Jag­ger in yel­low sneak­ers and a floun­cy elec­tric-green blouse,” writes Mark Kurlan­sky in his book, Ready For a Brand New Beat: How “Danc­ing in the Street” Became the Anthem.

He adds, “It is hard to under­stand what is going on in this video of two men danc­ing and hop­ping around each oth­er.” And if you turn the sound off, it only gets worse … if that’s pos­si­ble.

Above, see what hap­pened when writer & direc­tor Strack Azar cre­at­ed a “silent” ver­sion of the Jagger/Bowie video last year. It’s laugh-out-loud fun­ny at times. It’s also a good reminder that when you watch some­thing visu­al, you can’t dis­count the impact that the sound­track makes on the total expe­ri­ence.

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

David Bowie Releas­es 36 Music Videos of His Clas­sic Songs from the 1970s and 1980s

Bob Geld­of Talks About the Great­est Day of His Life, Step­ping on the Stage of Live Aid, in a Short Doc by Errol Mor­ris

Mick Jag­ger Tells the Sto­ry Behind ‘Gimme Shel­ter’ and Mer­ry Clayton’s Haunt­ing Back­ground Vocals

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  • Skip Press says:

    Shoul­da called it Danc­ing in the Sheets because Ang­ie left David after catch­ing him in bed with Mick. I went to Mag­gie Mae Abbot­t’s place in West Hol­ly­wood once and she said she could­n’t invite me in because Ang­ie was stay­ing there after leav­ing David for that raa­son.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.