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6 July 1972
Recorded: 5 July 1972
Broadcast: 6 July 1972
Note: Some sources mistakenly list this as broadcast on 14 April 1972.
Musicians: David Bowie, Mick Ronson, Trevor Bolder, Mick "Woody" Woodmansey & Robin Lumley
Video credit: Juanantpadillach Mili
A very famous performance, where many saw David Bowie perform for the first time even though an earlier UK TV performance of the same song had occurred on Granada's Lift-Off With Ayshea (Screened: 15 June 1972). Bowie's outrageous looks and camp acting with Mick Ronson had a major impact on the British public's imagination, and interest in him rose sharply after this broadcast.
Wearing a multi-coloured jump-suit and playing the same blue acoustic guitar seen in the The Old Grey Whistle Test, the red-haired Bowie and The Spiders From Mars mimed to a previously recorded studio version of "Starman" adding 'live' vocals and guitar. Of interest is Bowie's cheeky reference to Marc Bolan in this performance when he sings "Some cat was laying down some get-it-on rock n roll". Following the impact of this performance, "Starman" rocketed up the charts and made the Top 10 two weeks later.
Filmed live, Bowie and The Spiders (& Robin Lumley) were surrounded by a young dancing studio audience, much in the manner of the Beatle's "All You Need Is Love". Each of the Spiders had by now succumbed to the total glitter look with Mick Woodmansey having dyed his hair blond, Trevor Bolder having dyed his sideburns silver and Mick Ronson sporting long bleached hair and yellow satin jump-suit. Also shown on the broadcast was Robin Lumley on keyboards. Bowie achieved much notoriety by singing most of the song with his wrist dangling limply around Ronson's neck and shoulder. Sadly like The Old Grey Whistle Test, this performance is not yet commercially available but is often shown on UK TV from time to time.
Ian McCulloch, Echo and the Bunnymen:
As soon as I heard "Starman" and saw him on Top Of The Pops I was hooked. I seem to remember me being the first to say it, and then there was a host of other people saying how the Top Of The Pops performance changed their lives. In 1972, Id get girls on the bus saying to me, "eh la, have you got lippy on?", or "are you a boy or a girl?" Until he turned up it was a nightmare. All my other mates at school would say, Did you see that bloke on Top Of The Pops? Hes a right faggot, him! And I remember thinking, You pillocks, as theyd all be buying their Elton John albums, and Yessongs and all that crap. It made me feel cooler.
Gary Kemp, songwriter for Spandau Ballet:
I watched it at a friends council flat. My reality was so far removed from this guys place, that my journey from that moment on was to get there, and I think the same applies to most of my generation.
Chris Cowey, executive producer of BBC Top Of The Pops (2002):
"I remember David Bowie doing Starman, and you just thought, 'wow' - that was a life-changing moment."
Mick Wall, editor of Classic Rock magazine:
"I remember the first time Bowie appeared on TV in Ziggy Stardust guise and it was greeted mainly with contempt. Suddenly, here comes a guy dressed as a gay alien from outer space, singing gay alien songs from outer space. I was 14 and I genuinely didnt understand the concept of gay or straight. I remember TOTP was family viewing, and I remember watching it with my Mum and Dad. "Oh, shouldnt be allowed". And there was one bit in the chorus when Bowie puts his arm round Ronsons neck and they sing together? My Dad was like "Poofter" I remember feeling it was very strange and very different from everything else that had gone on TOTP that week. My mothers intense disapproval made me think Well, there must be something GREAT going on here", and I mean, at that moment I was totally hooked. First album I ever bought as a kid..."
DAVID BOWIE on "Top of The Pops" - it took hours for the grin on my face to wear off! Auntie Beeb has gone Bowie-mad - even the dreaded Blackburn album tracking from "Ziggy Stardust"! The establishment has now recognised you as a STAR, David. Long may it last! - MARY CONELAN, CHORLTON-CUM-HARDY, MANCHESTER.
Fan Letter (1972)
---This page last modified: 18 Dec 2018---