Shore and Cher Get Jiggy With Ziggy and Iggy [YouTube]
July 22, 2006
In the later 1970s, David Bowie had a penchant for turning up on in unexpected contexts on U.S. television. The most notorious, perhaps, is his holiday-special duet performance of "The Little Drummer Boy" with Bing Crosby. Thanks to YouTube, several other examples have been preserved.
In 1977, between albums of his own, Bowie co-wrote and produced two collections with seminal American punk Iggy Pop, and toured as keyboard player in Iggy's band. Somehow, the group was booked on Dinah Shore's afternoon talk show, a context as pleasant and genteel as Iggy's music was not. I saw that broadcast when it aired -- I must have stumbled on it by accident while flipping channels -- and the contrast between Iggy's and Dinah's sensibilities was something to behold. This clip (which looks to have been lifted from a VH1 Behind the Music show) includes a small snippet of the interview, in which Dinah expresses her concern for Iggy's health, given his oft self-damaging behavior.
If you pay close attention in that excerpt, you will discover that Dinah throughout the interview insisted on calling Iggy by his given name, "James."
The interview segment followed this performance of "Funtime." Dinah's introduction gives an idea of her progam's usual level of decorum, which was promptly shattered by Iggy getting his shirt off in the first seconds of his performance. With his dangling cigarette, Bowie at the piano seems to be channeling Sinatra's cameo from Around the World in 80 Days:
And here we have Mr. Bowie on his own in 1975, as a guest on Cher's comedy-variety show, duetting with his host. There's trouble from the outset, as the studio orchestra and choreography conspire to strip nearly all the soul from "Young Americans," but at the 1:17 mark it launches into an entirely new realm of dreadfulness: Great heavens! it's a medley! And the theme is: take a random word from the lyric of the song you happen to be singing and switch in mid-phrase to another song in which that same word appears. Cher is also sporting one of her more ill-considered wigs, a striking contraption that's half Toni Tenille, half mushroom. Somehow, consummate professionals that they are, both David and Cher get through this with at least a semblance of their artistic credibility intact, but it is a near thing.