Historic David Bowie footage of his first-ever TV appearance as Ziggy Stardust has been found, the problem is that it’s in such a fragile state that the documentary’s production team aren’t certain they’ll be able to rescue it in order to use.
It has been long believed that the performance by Bowie of “Starman” on the BBC’s Top of the Pops in July 1972, was his first as the character, and the moment Bowie broke new ground in the music business. With his over the top androgynous outfit, and the sight of him hanging off guitarist Mick Ronson while staring into the camera was the turning point for Bowie and the moment he turned into a star.
The twist to this story is that this wasn’t Bowie’s first outing as the Ziggy character. He had tested the water in June of that year by appearing on rival network ITV’s Lift Off With Ayshea, but the master tapes were tragically deleted by mistake.
Obviously, the fear was the moment was lost forever, that was until a Bowie fan recently discovered a recording they had made on a home VCR.
The tape had degenerated over the past 46 years, and now the recording has to be baked in a preservation process before it’s digitized – the problem here is that the baking process isn’t always successful.
The documentary’s writer and producer Francis Whately told the BBC: “For fans, it is something of a holy grail,” adding that he hoped the clip could be rescued in time for it to appear on his third Bowie film, David Bowie: Finding Fame. He said: “It would fall apart if we played it [as it is] so it’s had to be very carefully restored. It will be a real coup if it comes off.”
As for the BBC, a spokesperson explained that the “footage has only very recently been discovered. We’re hoping it will be ready in time to include in the film.”
Check out the footage of “Starman” on Top of the Pops below: