Prince ruled this year’s Essence Fest. He kicked off his July 4 headlining set in New Orleans by performing 14 hits in a row – “You know how many hits I got?” he shouted – to nearly 50,000 fans, or the largest single-night Essence crowd since Hurricane Katrina. “Prince has requested everyone wear PURPLE to his #EssenceFest performance,” the festival tweeted prior to his set. Everyone obliged.
But when Prince joined Chic‘s Nile Rodgers during his set, he followed the disco guitarist’s lead instead. This led to the two covering David Bowie‘s “Let’s Dance,” the hit title track from the Thin White Duke’s 1983 #1 album – and, based on the screams in fan footage, one of the festival’s best moments.
Prince, a longtime fan, had interviewed Rodgers back in May for Essence. He asked the guitarist how it felt to recover from Disco Demolition Night in 1979, which Rodgers had compared to Nazi book burning, by co-producing Let’s Dance and then producing Madonna‘s Like a Virgin and Duran Duran‘s Notorious. “What I admire most is that you and Chic could do no wrong,” Prince said.
“Disco Demolition Night was indeed the catalyst for the demise of Chic,” Rodgers said. “But playing and creating music – that’s something I can’t live without.” Watch Prince and Nile Rodgers cover David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” below.
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