Bonus material: Herbie Hancock

Chris Stults, Associate Curator, Film/Video

Jan 12, 2022

Still from Godley & Creme's music video for Herbie Hancock's "Rockit"

Enjoy a collection of links to choice video clips featuring the subject of our January film retrospective and his amazing music.

The bulk of the Wex’s film programming in January is devoted to movies with soundtracks by the great jazz musician Herbie Hancock. It’s an eclectic group of that should make for a fun, unusual, and provocative month of filmgoing.

To get ready for the series, we’ve compiled a few video clips that show Hancock’s larger cultural presence in surprising ways. There are so many amazing performance clips of Hancock over the decades available online, so this will focus the influence he had on culture at large.

Herbie Hancock on Sesame Street

Still, Sesame Street, "Herbie Hancock Makes Sounds"

  • This charm-filled Herbie Hancock appearance on Sesame Street sees him showing off the latest synthesizer technology to a group of kids that includes future Fresh Prince of Bel Air star Tatyana Ali.
  • Before George Lucas made THX-1138American Graffiti, and Star Wars, he was a film student at USC who was really interested in experimental film. This student film by Lucas examines the light and textures of a Volkswagen Beetle, set to a cool piano track by Hancock. (Note: This film came out two years before the Disney film The Love Bug, so the title, Herbie, definitely refers to Hancock and not the car!) 
  • The music video for Hancock’s “Rockit” (pictured at top of page) still packs a punch! The Godley & Crème-directed work swept the 1984 MTV music awards (hosted by Dan Aykroyd and Bette Midler) with five awards. This is especially notable because that was a peak moment for advancements in music videos. The other big winner that night was Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” with three wins and The Cars’ “You Might Think,” David Bowie’s “China Girl,” Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” Eurythmic’s “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This),” Van Halen’s “Jump,” and The Police’s “Every Breath You Take.” Here’s the video for "Rockit,"  and here’s Hancock performing the song live on the awards show (introduced by John Denver and with accompaniment by breakdancers with freaky masks).
  • Later in the year, after the MTV awards, Hancock appeared on Late Night with David Letterman for two segments. In the first, he jams with the Late Night band (Paul Shafer is loving it!) and then comes back for a second segment to show Dave how synthesizers work. Both Late Night music segments with Hancock can be viewed here.
Still from the Mobb Deep video for "Shook Ones, Pt. II"

Still, video for Mobb Deep's "Shook Ones, Pt. II"

Jazz began to have a more prominent influence on hip-hop in the 1990s and a number of notable songs were built around Herbie Hancock samples.

Top of page: Still, video for Herbie Hancock's "Rockit"

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