A 1960s civil rights pop song became an ’80s dance song from an unlikely duo of David Bowie and Mick Jagger: Dancing in the Street.
Written by Marvin Gaye, William Stevenson and Ivy Jo Hunter, the song was recorded by Motown girl group Martha and the Vandellas, who had a top five Billboard hit and made the song part of their performance repertoire.
Covered by The Mamas and the Papas, The Grateful Dead, The Kinks and Van Halen, in 1985, David Bowie and Mick Jagger decided to record the ’60s song as a fundraiser for the charitable event Live Aid.
The original idea was to have each performer on the different stages to sing the song live, but the half second delay would have made it difficult. Jagger flew to London to record the song with Bowie, who was in the studio working on the soundtrack for the film Absolute Beginners.
In 13 hours, performers, musicians and studio engineers completed production on the single, and EMI released the song in August 1985, after the concert. It went top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and to number one in the UK.
The accompanying music video which was campy and irreverent, was filmed on the Docklands in London and was shown twice during the Live Aid concert as a preview of the song’s release. Live Aid raised over $200 million for famine relief in Africa.