Originally Posted 9/17/22): The site maintenance series features alternate videos of songs posted earlier, which I find when fixing an earlier broken link. This case brings us one of Bowie’s most iconic songs which, along with “Space Oddity” probably cemented Bowie’s association with aliens (aliens rarely appear in Bowie’s songs for years after “Ziggy Stardust” but the reputation stuck).
This performance is nearly iconic. If you think of Bowie at this time, this is what you think of. There’s a moment in the video where Bowie points to the camera that has been oft-reproduced as a still. Bowie’s voice, as well as his look would change over time and later performances of this song feature different qualities, but this is how the world was introduced to “Starman” (not necessarily this exact performance, but the way it sounds here with Bowie looking like he looks here).
As a side note, its funny to think about how the nerdy looking young audience is probably all in their 70s today.
Updated 10/31/22: Coincidently, Rolling Stone published a list of the top 50 Goth songs of all time today (10/31) and listed this specific performance as #4. The list included two other songs connected to Bowie, a cover of “Heroes” by a band called Parálisis Permanente came in at #42, while “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” by Bauhaus came in at #1. That song was playing in a scene from The Hunger in which Bowie appears as a vampire at a nightclub. Several of the bands on the list have Bowie connections, and the intro explained, “ The first batallion of dark 1970s post-punk bands fed off the energy of Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust character, an androgynous creature who didn’t quite seem human. The allure of Ziggy, mixed with the magnetism of Dracula (namely Christopher Lee, Udo Keir, and of course, Bela Lugosi) helped to assemble the essential iconography of the subculture– at once dreadful and oozing with sex appeal.”
Here’s what Rolling Stone said about this performance of “Starman”:
“Goth would not exist without David Bowie — and if goth somehow did exist sans Bowie, it’d be quite dull. It was Bowie who instantaneously changed the lives of goth’s progenitors with this July 6th, 1972, Top of the Pops broadcast of ‘Starman’ from The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. The whole goth gang — including Siouxsie Sioux, Robert Smith, Daniel Ash, and David J of Bauhaus — witnessed Bowie, the androgynous alien in his gold-accented jumpsuit and burgundy hair, performing those three minutes of transformative bliss. David J wrote about that moment in his book, Who Killed Mister Moonlight: ‘Bowie’s visitation was a startling explosion of colour and excitement — a galvanizing shock of beauty.’ Ten years later, Bauhaus found chart success with their cover of ‘Ziggy Stardust.’”