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Before it was the Moonwalk, it was Backsliding, or The Buzz
April 18, 2014 1:52 PM   Subscribe

Moonwalking is often attributed to Michael Jackson, but as summarized in this low resolution clip from Soccer AM, it was performed under various names in decades before MJ's live television performance in 1983. Let's backslide through the years, from Cab Calloway's 1932 version that he called "The Buzz" to Jeffrey Daniel performing the backslide as a member of Shalamar in 1982 on Top of the Pops in the UK.

Another early performer of gliding steps was the mime, Étienne Decroux, who taught both Marcel Marceau and David Bowie, both who might have influenced Jackson (see Bowie live in the Diamond Dogs tour, and Michael Jackson with Marcel Marceau in 1997). Around the 1950s, Bill Bailey mixed gliding steps with his tap dance routines and Mexican comedian/dancer Adalberto Martinez "Resortes" backslid, while Dick Van Dyke mailed a letter on a windy corner, and even the Godfather of Soul was known to float and glide on his feet in the 1960s. H.R Pufnstuf was also ahead of the curve, as seen in this clip where kids are taught The Moonwalk, a stationary version of the gliding step. But most credit Jeffrey Daniels with being the one to influence and teach Michael what he would call the Moonwalk. Here's Daniels with Casper Canidate and Cooley Jaxson/Jackson backsliding on Soultrain in 1979, before that performance with Shalamar on TOTP.
posted by filthy light thief (13 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
Somewhat related: Today, I found this video of the Ohio State marching band executing a formation of a giant moonwalking Michael, complete with white glove and signature hat-tip. Quite impressive.
posted by chara at 2:09 PM on April 18


That marching band is indeed quite impressive (seen twice, previously).
posted by filthy light thief at 2:13 PM on April 18


I thought everyone knew that the moonwalk was invented by one Clint Eastwood in 1885.
posted by Strange Interlude at 2:35 PM on April 18 [5 favorites]


There was also Max Wall, Bill Bailey and Ronnie Hawkins.
posted by unliteral at 2:52 PM on April 18 [1 favorite]


I thought everyone knew that the moonwalk was invented by one Clint Eastwood in 1885.

It's sad that they (very obviously) resorted to a body double for that. The moonwalk isn't at all difficult once you figure out the mechanics of it.

(Instructions in full: Glide the flat foot backwards while putting your weight on the opposite toe.)
posted by Sys Rq at 2:52 PM on April 18 [1 favorite]


The moonwalk was called the buzz, Buzz Aldrin went to the moon, Michael Jackson was a focus of celebrity "buzz" and tabloid attention...

It's all connected...
posted by idiopath at 2:57 PM on April 18 [4 favorites]


It's just the mime walk. It's been around forever.
posted by Trochanter at 2:57 PM on April 18


See also: Bob Fosse in The Little Prince
posted by benzenedream at 3:15 PM on April 18 [1 favorite]


See also: Bob Fosse in The Little Prince

Yup.
posted by Atom Eyes at 3:55 PM on April 18 [3 favorites]


Man, Cab Calloway sure gets a quick hit off that snort of coke he takes.
posted by salishsea at 3:56 PM on April 18 [1 favorite]


Michael Jackson never claimed to have invented anything, except of course the Smooth Criminal lean.
posted by ckape at 4:57 PM on April 18 [2 favorites]


That Cab Calloway song could almost be a verse off of Illmatic, with very little of substance changed.
posted by penduluum at 5:52 PM on April 18


Don't forget this.
posted by Pendragon at 3:56 AM on April 19


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