Blue Jean singleWritten by: David Bowie
Recorded: May 1984
Producers: David Bowie, Derek Bramble, Hugh Padgham

Released: 1 September 1984

Available on:
Tonight
Glass Spider (Live Montreal ’87)
Nothing Has Changed
Legacy

Personnel

David Bowie: vocals
Carlos Alomar: guitar
Carmine Rojas: bass guitar, keyboards
Omar Hakim: drums
Sammy Figueroa: percussion
Guy St Onge: marimba
Stanley Harrison: alto saxophone
Lenny Pickett: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet
Steve Elson: baritone saxophone
Curtis King, George Simms, Robin Clark: vocals

The lead single from David Bowie’s Tonight album, ‘Blue Jean’ was a transatlantic hit. It was, with ‘Loving The Alien’, one of just two tracks on the album written solely by Bowie.

‘Blue Jean’ is a piece of sexist rock ‘n roll. [laughs] It’s about picking up birds. It’s not very cerebral, that piece.
David Bowie
David Bowie – The Interview, EMI America, 1987

The song was inspired by music from the 1950s, although the cluttered production was more akin to Phil Spector’s mid-Sixties Wall of Sound.

‘Blue Jean’ reminds me of Eddie Cochran. It was inspired from that Eddie Cochran feeling, but that of course is very Troggs as well. I dunno… it’s quite eclectic, I suppose. What of mine isn’t?
David Bowie
New Musical Express, 29 September 1984

Bowie performed ‘Blue Jean’ throughout the Glass Spider tour in 1987, and the Sound + Vision tour in 1990. It was also played a handful of times during A Reality Tour, with the final performance taking place on 2 April 2004 at the WordPerfect Theatre in Ottawa, Canada.

‘Blue Jean’ was recorded along with the other Tonight tracks at Le Studio in Morin-Heights, Quebec, Canada, in May 1984.

The album was produced by Derek Bramble and Hugh Padgham. During the sessions Bowie asked Padgham which was his least favourite of the new recordings, and Padgham told him ‘Blue Jean’.

I didn’t really like ‘Blue Jean’, as I thought it was really lightweight.
Hugh Padgham
David Bowie: A Life, Dylan Jones

The release

The ‘Blue Jean’ single was released on 1 September 1984, with the Tonight album following on 24 September.

The b-side was another album track, ‘Dancing With The Big Boys’. Some versions of the 7″ single were pressed on blue vinyl.

The single was a worldwide hit, reaching the top ten in Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It did not top the charts in any country.

A 12″ single was also released by EMI, featuring an Extended Dance Mix of ‘Blue Jean’, by John ‘Jellybean’ Benitez, which took its length from 3:13 to 5:15.

It also contained an Extended Dance Mix and Extended Dub Mix of ‘Dancing With The Big Boys’, both of which were by Arthur Baker.

The extended mixes of both songs were included on Dance, a collection of remixes included in the 2018 box set Loving The Alien (1983–1988).