David Bowie Starman

David Bowie on Top of the Pops: “Let All The Children Boogie”

David Bowie Starman Top of the Pops 5At 7:25 pm on July 6, 1972, over a quarter of the British population watched David Bowie sing ‘Starman’ on TV.

Here was a man with make up – an orange haired bisexual in a comic book version of a spaceman’s jumpsuit.

A beautiful, androgynous man who camped it up, draping his arm suggestively around his guitarist, Mick Ronson, the pose wonderfully displaying Bowie’s nail-polish.

Bowie’s sly smile, his casually decadent demeanour and the way he related to the camera, playing to the viewer, suggested a private joke between him and you.

David Bowie Starman Top of the Pops 3David Bowie looked more than exotic. He looked other-wordly, he looked like an alien. And here he was in your home, with your parents also watching, outraged by his appearance.

The impact of this performance was immense and is fondly remembered in Britain as an iconic event.

In that audience were kids who later became musicians deeply influenced by Bowie and who would themselves also influence further generations of musicians.

David Bowie Starman Top of the Pops 4A very incomplete list would include Morrissey, Gary Numan, Siouxsie Sioux, future members of Echo and the Bunnymen, of Depeche Mode and of future bands as diverse as Joy Division and Duran Duran.

Robert Smith of The Cure:

“everyone of my age remembers the time he played Starman on Top of the Pops. The school was divided between those who thought he was a queer and those who thought he was a genius … He was blatantly different … I thought: this is (what) I’ve been waiting for.”

Alan McGee, who discovered Oasis:

(The ‘Starman’ appearance was) “The reason I got into rock’n’roll.”

David Bowie Starman Top of the Pops 6Elton John:

“David took it to another level. It was game-changing.”

Jarvis Cocker of Pulp:

“Music on Planet Earth would never be the same again.”

It is bizarre to think that the Ziggy Stardust album had been finished before ‘Starman’ was written and that it had been a late inclusion, changing the intended line-up of the album.

David Bowie Starman When Ziggy Played GuitarThis iconic ‘Starman’ performance has inspired a book called When Ziggy Played Guitar, by GQ editor Dylan Jones, published in Britain on June 28 and which may be released soon in the States. The book is sub-titled, David Bowie And Four Minutes That Shook The World.

‘Starman’ was televised on Top Of The Pops, a music chart program that was a fixture of the weekly TV calendar from 1964 to 2006, broadcast by the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation).

Top Of The Pops was comparable to (but even more popular than) American Bandstand or Solid Gold in the USA, but none of these programs have any equivalent in today’s much more fragmented and diverse popular culture.

David Bowie Starman Single 1972It would now be virtually unfeasible to reach a quarter of a country’s population in a single transmission. And it would be all the more ridiculous to suggest that it could be done with a chart show. How many years has it been since even MTV played music videos in prime time?

But the world was different in 1972. Two weeks before the Top Of The Pops appearance, ‘Starman’ had entered the singles charts and now would shortly reach the top ten, taking Bowie and his cosmic alter ego Ziggy Stardust to a mass audience.

“Hey, that’s far out so you heard him too!”

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9 Responses to David Bowie Starman

  1. clownonfire says:

    Bewlay Sister,
    The amount of research you put behind each post is remarkable. This blog is becoming a très nice David Bowie forum…
    Le Clown

  2. I remember the first time I properly ‘heard’ David Bowie. I was 15 in dull, dull, dull boarding school and was listening to late-night radio when the song ‘Ziggy Stardust’ was played. To my ears, it sounded like the future calling from the past over hissing airwaves (we were near Sailsbury Plain where reception was terrible). Anyway, I suppose it was my ‘Starman’ moment! I’ve been hooked on Bowie ever since. Thanks for the great post and I second Le Clown’s sentiments.

  3. Joe C. says:

    Bewlay Sister:
    I actually think that the music of bowie are very important for all the new musicians and
    music bands cause have many good elements that must be taked in count, so i found the station to station album and i listen it and i think it’s a very special and dramatic album, can you make someday an article of the station to station album please? Cause i think that your blog it’s very cool

  4. Marie E French-Smith says:

    I saw this on Top of The Pops, I was 14,,,, I immediately fell headover heels into my lifelong love of David Bowie. I have seen him live many times over the 41 years of faithful & genuine adoration. He remains my hero…..He is a deserved recipient of so many artistes accolades.Inspirational & beautiful changling man xx

  5. Olga says:

    My cellist was raving about mick ronson and I had to investigate. I was not familiar with his work….wow! A highly gifted, unassuming artist completely devoid of ego. For him,it was only about the music. The way he was absolutely immersed in the love of it all with the magical workings of innate ability and the conservative focus of classical training

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