Herbie Hancock: "Rockit" from the 1984 Grammy Awards

Grand Mixer D.ST. is scratching on the B-side of Fab Five Freddy's "Change The Beat." Don't miss the shot of Michael Jackson and date Brooke Shields in the front row.


    1. How are you sure? Hancock mastered these instruments quickly and was one of the first jazz players to do so.

      And why is it so hard to believe that a legendary jazz musician made a ground-breaking experimental pop record? I know it was panned by critics, but the people sure liked it.

  1. Herbie Hancock has been badass through several decades.

    With Miles Davis in 1963: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_whk6m67VE

    Funky and abstract with Mwandishi in 1971: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lTimyz9T7k\

    Straight-up funky with Headhunters in 1975: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lTimyz9T7k

    Bonus for the vintage keyboard heads: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6QsusDS_8A

    He’s one of the few remaining genuine titans of jazz and he’s still going strong. Big ups for some Herbie on a Monday afternoon.

  2. I remember seeing an exhibition with those very robots in it at about that time. Tim Hunkin, aren’t they?

    1. He is most certainly playing for real. That’s a completely improvised solo. The video rate is bad and it makes it look weird. It is definitely not ‘key-syncing’. Listen to the original recording and you will see that this is a completely different version; he was just playing really fast and this low-quality video does not do his hands justice.

  3. My wife just walked through the room

    Me: Hey Boing Boing’s got a Herbie Hancock live at the 1984 Grammies video up. I’m not sure why but…

    Her: Because it’s AWESOME!

  4. Saw it live on TV and taped it. Took it in to show and tell the next day, because of the moonwalking. I was 12 and in 6th grade. I must have watched it 300 times. (Watch , rewind, watch, rewind).

  5. The documentary Scratch (as Paco posted) cites this performance as the inspiration for many a turntablist of my generation (early to late 30s). I remember seeing this when it aired and being mesmerized by the scratching. I immediately set about trying to destroy my parents’ turntable. They were not amused.

  6. Years after college (mid-90s, probably), I found out that Herbie Hancock was some kind of enormous jazz legend going back decades. And yet Rockit was my only exposure to the guy’s work.

    I fear I am not alone.

    I guess I never followed up on the guy because he sounded to my unseasoned ears like a lesser clone of Harold Faltermeyer. Which wasn’t really my thing.

    All to my shame now.

  7. I always loved the exotic and innovative music video (which this stage performance echoes). The video is far more interesting than the stage show:
    Some time after its release I found out that the directors were my favorite art rock guys Lol and Kev (earlier of 10CC)
    who released my all time most loved concept album, “Consequences” (with a stunning guest appearance by Sarah Vaughn).
    If you have a few hours free, enjoy that album! My favorite line from the album… “It’s not a good sign when goldfish commit suicide” (delivered by Peter Cook).

    1. Nah, Electric Café came right after this. I strongly suspect there was cross-polination going on.

  8. Only saw it the one time, back when it first aired. Seared Into My Brain. Don’t need to watch it again, but I will.

  9. If you do a brief search, it’s possible to find a great interview from 1985 Musician magazine with Herbie Hancock and Wynton Marsalis together. Summary: Wynton thinks Herbie’s foray into pop is utter crap, but he can’t outright say it, because, well, Herbie is Herbie, and he’s sitting right there. It’s a pretty interesting read if you’re so inclined.

    This was around the same time Jan Hammer broke out with his Miami Vice electronic stuff; another heavy jazz guy (e.g. John Abercrombie “Timeless” 1974), although less famous, dipping his toe into a world of new toys and sounds.

  10. Thanks for the great flashback. Everytime I listen to this song I remember watching this performance in grade school music class. I haven’t seen it since and it was still just as fantastic. I wish more of my 80s memories were the same.

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