David Knight - 8th Jan 2021

It's David Bowie's birthday today - and also five years since his death. There could hardly be a more appropriate moment to listen to the opening song from Ziggy Stardust, his breakthrough album - and not just because of this sad anniversary. Notwithstanding a few debatable lyrical choices, it's theme of impending doom seems all-too timely. 

But don't just listen to it - watch this. David Bowie, performing the song when the album was released, on the BBC's The Old Grey Whistle Test in 1972, with his band The Spiders From Mars - including Mick Ronson, his crucial musical partner of the period, on piano.

At this moment, Bowie has just assumed the Ziggy persona, and is on the verge of pop stardom. A few weeks later, he was on Top Of The Pops, famously hooking his arm over Ronson's shoulders, while performing Starman.

But here, Bowie just looks and sounds amazing. While Ronson, in full glam rock mode tinkles the ivories of a Steinway, Bowie sings while playing acoustic guitar. He's wearing the first defining outfit of the Ziggy phase: a quilted two-piece, designed by Bowie and Freddie Burretti, made from '30s furniture fabric by his seamstress friend Sue Frost - with patent leather calf length boots from Russell & Bromley. And of course, this is beautifully captured by the skilled team on this seminal, never-bettered British TV rock show, led by director Colin Strong.*

Happy birthday, Starman.

* Thanks Paul Gorman, for the Bowie fashion & TV broadcast info 

David Knight - 8th Jan 2021

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