David Bowie’s star-making performance of “Starman” on BBC’s Top of the Pops has picked up a mythological quality over time, with countless musicians referencing the July 6th, 1972 appearance as a touchstone in their lives. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the landmark performance, it has been released in HD on Bowie’s official YouTube channel.
Outfitted in a soon-to-be-iconic brightly-colored rainbow jumpsuit and astronaut boots, Bowie embodied his Ziggy Stardust persona while playing with his backing band Spiders from Mars and keyboardist Nicky Graham. Pointing directly at the camera while singing, “I had to phone someone, so I picked on you ooh ooh,” Bowie effectively engaged everyone watching the performance. Check it out below.
Among those who have said the appearance profoundly changed their lives include some of the UK’s most influential musicians themselves: U2’s Bono, The Cure’s Robert Smith, Boy George, Mick Jones of the Clash, and Morrissey and Johnny Marr of the Smiths, as well as Toyah Willcox, John Taylor and Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran, and Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode.
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“There’s no doubt that Bowie’s appearance on Top of the Pops was a pivotal moment in British musical history,” said BBC 6Music broadcaster Marc Riley in a press statement. “Like the Sex Pistols at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester in ’76, his performance lit the touchpaper for thousands of kids who up till then had struggled to find a catalyst in their lives.”
“Starman” appears on Bowie’s breakout album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, which turned 50 years old in June. To mark the anniversary, it was reissued as a limited edition half-speed remastered LP that’s currently available for purchase here.
Consequence also celebrated the anniversary with a roundtable discussion featuring Incubus, Sylvan Esso, Lucius, and Ziggy Stardust producer Ken Scott.