Lost Media Archive

The entire world should know who British singer-songwriter David Bowie is by now. Ever since he first became known to the public with the song "Space Oddity" in 1969, Bowie has since gone from Ziggy Stardust, frontman of a glam-rock band titled Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, in the early 1970s to working with ambient musician/producer/Windows 95 startup sound composer Brian Eno on his albums Low, "Heroes" and Lodger in the late 1970s to finding his biggest commercial success in 1983 with Let's Dance (featuring several hit singles) to various amounts of musical experiments in the 1990s and 2000s. Although he has not performed live since 2006, Bowie has since been regarded as one of the most influential artists of all time.

On April 13, 1973, following the release of his widely-acclaimed fifth album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, Bowie released the first album he wrote and released as a bona fide rocker as well as his most commercially successful in the USA and UK at the time (given its 100,000 pre-orders), Aladdin Sane, which he described as "Ziggy goes to America". The first single, "The Jean Genie", was released on November 24, 1972 and later went on to become one of his best-known songs, also giving Scottish band Simple Minds their name due to the lyric "He's so simple minded, he can't drive his module". A little over a month later, on January 4, 1973 (three months before Aladdin Sane was to be released), the long-running British chart show Top of the Pops aired a pre-recorded performance of the song, where Bowie's entire four-piece band performed live (which was unusual for the Ziggy Stardust era) and then-guitarist Mick Ronson did an extended guitar solo. Unfortunately, tapes of this edition of the show were immediately wiped, like a lot of other BBC programmes at the time.

Fortunately, cameraman John Henshall, utilizing the then-new fisheye lens technique seen in the performance, made a copy (which he only wanted for his showreel) and, in December 2011, was contacted by music-television aficionado Ray Langstone to share this historic David Bowie relic with the masses.[1] It has since been preserved in the BBC archives, screened at that year's Missing Believed Wiped event, and rebroadcast on December 21, 2011, during the annual Top of the Pops 2 Christmas special, 38 years after its original airing in 1973.[2]


David Bowie's lost 1973 Top of the Pops performance of The Jean Genie