Former Saturday Night Live cast member Fred Armisen took to the stage to pay tribute to David Bowie, and to reintroduce the legendary artist’s iconic 1979 performance of ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ on SNL. It was the first episode of the show after Bowie’s shocking and untimely death.
Yes, in the midst of the episode, which saw ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ and HBO’s ‘Girls’ star Adam Driver making his debut as host, it was time to take an intermission from the frenetic pace of comedy skits. It was time to honor an icon who is no longer with us. From ‘Space Oddity’ to ‘Ziggy Stardust,’ he created personas that have become endemic to pop culture even for those not familiar with his 50-year career that traversed music, film, fashion, and other disciplines.
He died on January 10th, just two days after his 69th birthday which was also the release date of what has become his final album, ‘Blackstar.’ Even before his death, critics were raving over the new album, and his continuing musical evolution and innovation which now, sadly, has come to an end.
With the lights dimmed, Fred Armisen took to the stage to pay homage to the legend and to introduce the clip. He began his remembrance saying, “I stayed up to see David Bowie play on ‘Saturday Night Live.’ It was December 15, 1979 and Bowie performed ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ with an assist from German performance artist Klaus Nomi and New York’s own acclaimed drag artist Joey Arias.”
Armisen went on to say, “Watching him was for me a life-changing experience. He had these backup singers that were like choir singers from the future, and a toy poodle with a TV monitor in his mouth.”
Summing up the legacy, he added, “David Bowie transformed whatever space he was in, whatever medium he was using and that night, for me, he transformed live television.”
And yes, looking back, it was a brilliant television moment, and the perfect way to honor Bowie. But that was not his only appearance on the show. He went on to make other appearances on Saturday Night Live. And while there wasn’t time in the live broadcast to devote to playing all of the performances NBC has put them all online, and you can watch them below; ‘Boys Keep Swinging’ and ‘TVC-15 .’
For online viewers, it’s an even more powerful tribute as, for all intents and purposes, Bowie has been given the posthumous honor of being the musical guest yet again. Now those amazing performances of the past are reaching a new audience as well as bringing remembrances to those who saw them the first time around.
But as it was, a powerful moment on television. You can see Fred Armisen’s SNL tribute to David Bowie below, along with video of all his appearances on the show below.
— Saturday Night Live (@nbcsnl) January 17, 2016