‘Boys Keep Swinging’ was the first single released from David Bowie’s Lodger album.
The single was released on 27 April 1979, ahead of the album. Its b-side was another album track, ‘Fantastic Voyage’.
Also in April, director David Mallet filmed David Bowie in promotional clips for ‘Boys Keep Swinging’. ‘DJ’ and ‘Look Back In Anger’. The shoot took place at Ewart Studios in Wandsworth, London.
Bowie appeared in four different guises in the ‘Boys Keep Swinging’ clip: as the main performer in a Mod suit and tie; and dressed in drag as the trio of backing singers. The singers were in the styles of Coronation Street’s Bet Lynch, Lauren Bacall, and Bowie’s Just A Gigolo co-star Marlene Dietrich.
Towards the end of the song, each of the singers individually sashayed forward. Two took off their wigs and smeared their makeup, in a foreshadowing of the Pierrot-style imagery of the ‘Ashes To Ashes’ video, while the third blew a kiss to the camera.
The makeup move, according to Bowie, was “a well-known drag act finale gesture which I appropriated. I really liked the idea of screwing up make-up after all the meticulous work that had gone into it. It was a nice destructive thing to to – quite anarchistic.”
The video and accompanying publicity helped propel ‘Boys Keep Swinging’ back up the UK charts to a high of number seven, becoming Bowie’s biggest hit there since ‘Sound And Vision’.
Also on this day...
- 1976: Live: Kungliga Tennishallen, Stockholm, Sweden
- 1967: Live: David Bowie and the Riot Squad, Embassy Suite, Colchester
Want more? Visit the David Bowie history section.