David Bowie tribute on ‘SNL’ includes a nod to classic 1979 performances

“Saturday Night Live” has paid tribute to the late David Bowie in a meaningful way: NBC has posted three classic 1979 performances on its website for fans to watch again. And again.

Saturday’s show included a cameo from former cast member Fred Armisen, who recalled watching the performances as a kid on Long Island, and the impact they had on him.

“Watching him was, for me, a life-changing experience,” the comedian said. “David Bowie transformed whatever space he was in, whatever medium he was using and, that night, for me, he transformed live television.”

David Bowie died of cancer on Jan. 10.

Armisen also nodded to the backup singers — German singer Klaus Nomi, wearing black in the video, and NYC performance artist Joey Arias, wearing red — describing them as “choir singers from the future.”

From today’s vantage point, the presentation of all three songs seems very ahead of its time. Highlighting both technology and its artifice, for example, Bowie’s head is roughly perched atop a superimposed marionette’s body during “Boys Keep Swinging.” 

Head to nbc.com/saturday-night-live/david-bowie to see the future as told by the past.