Saturday Night Live returned from its holiday break with a solid performance by Girls and Star Wars star Adam Driver, but a moment mid-way through the show stopped everyone cold as comedian and musician Fred Armisen appeared on the show to pay tribute to David Bowie, who died of cancer last week.
Armisen’s David Bowie tribute relived a moment in SNL history many had likely forgotten, a show hosted in the late 1970s by none other than Martin Sheen featuring three over the top performances by David Bowie, backup singers, and his band. Armisen said the performance, which he witnessed as a minor living on Long Island, deeply moved him.
“When I was in high school and living in Long Island I stayed up to see David Bowie play on ‘Saturday Night Live,'” Armisen was quoted as saying by NBC News, which shares 30 Rockefeller Plaza with SNL‘s studios. “Watching him was for me a life changing experience…. David Bowie transformed whatever space he was in, whatever medium he was using and, that night for me, he transformed live television.”
The SNL tribute to David Bowie featured not only Armisen’s remembrance — including references to a strange choir of backup singers and a stuffed dog with a television monitor in its mouth — but the tribute also featured the music video at the beginning of this article. The video is one of three songs performed by David Bowie on that particular episode on December 15, 1979, according to IMDb.
NBC News discussed the performances and its history with a burgeoning European music scene separate from the British music scene.
“For his first song of the night, Bowie returned to an earlier favorite with a rendition of ‘The Man Who Sold the World’ off his 1970 album of the same name. In true Bowie fashion, the performance was nothing that had been done before.
“During the song, the rocker was joined by German performance artist Klaus Nomi and New York cabaret singer and drag artist Joey Arias who physically carried Bowie — clad in a Bauhaus-inspired costume — to the microphone.”
The performances that night by Bowie even included 1979’s version of a wardrobe malfunction, though it was not quite as risqué as one would expect, NBC News said.
“Later that night, using green-screen technology for a truly avant garde number, Bowie’s head was superimposed over a half-naked puppet body while singing his more recent single, ‘Boys Keep Swinging.’ At the end of the song, there is a brief moment of puppet nudity that went uncensored,” the network news service reported.
As the Inquisitr reported last week, Bowie may be remembered with a funeral service in New York, which has struck a nerve in his native Britain. The news may have upset Brits who expected their native son to be remembered and buried in the United Kingdom, but as the Saturday Night Live tribute to Bowie makes clear, the legendary rocker is as much a part of New York culture as fashion, skyscrapers, the news media, and the subway.
While last night’s Adam Driver-hosted SNL featured the David Bowie tribute, it was not without a ton of laughs and entertainment for audiences at home. The Girls star noted during last night’s episode that he quickly went from the U.S. Marine Corps to acting, with incredible success. So much success, in fact, that he is now a leading star in the latest Star Wars film that was spoofed with an Undercover Boss skit featuring character Kylo Ren during last night’s first SNL broadcast of 2016. If the reactions from the crowd were any indication, Driver’s first stint hosting SNL may not be his last.
[Featured image via screenshot]