One of the longest running and most indelible parts of Saturday Night Live for the 40 years it’s been on has been the fantastic and often essential musical performances by a number of important artists. Sure, we had to deal with Ashley Simpson’s lip syncing being exposed, but we also had things like Elvis Costello getting himself banned from the show for many years by stopping a network-approved song to play the inflammatory “Radio Radio.” That’s good television, and great cultural significance.
One such to have made an impact without the scandal was David Bowie, who performed on the comedy/variety show in 1979. His performance style was so unique, so electrifying, and so, well, weird that viewers were suitably mesmerized. One such viewer was a young Fred Armisen, who would of course go on to be one of the best cast members SNL ever produced. On this week’s episode, the former cast member took to the stage to tee-up a clip from that performance and to pay tribute to one of his musical heroes.
“The Man Who Sold the World” is such an interesting and wonderful choice of song for Bowie to have, especially in 1979, when he was still in his Thin White Duke phase. The performance also featured noted otherworldly German countertenor Klaus Nomi and performance and drag artist Joey Arias. The three of them onstage are suitably weird, and the horror-fantasy motifs of the song make for a pretty spooky few minutes. But it’s a great performance, and a fantastic song all the way round.
You can watch Bowie’s full set from Saturday Night Live in ’79 by clicking here.
We’re still very sad about David Bowie’s passing but seeing these performances and other tributes over the past week have softened the blow a bit. Let us know your favorite David Bowie live performances in the comments below!
HT: Entertainment Weekly
Kyle Anderson is the Weekend Editor and a film and TV critic for Nerdist.com. Follow him on Twitter!