Our featured video this week is David Bowie and the Spiders from Mars performing “Starman” on Top of the Pops in 1972. The song was released in April 1972 as the lead single off of Bowie’s fifth studio album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.
This performance caused quite a stir. After it aired, the song launched to number 10 on the UK Singles Chart and the album reached number five. The performance was watched by a large audience, and many future English musicians credited it as having a big impact on them, including Boy George, Adam Ant, Mick Jones of the Clash, Morrissey and Johnny Marr of the Smiths, Siouxsie Sioux, and Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode.
Ian McCulloch of Echo & the Bunnymen said in 2007: “As soon as I heard ‘Starman’ and saw him on Top of the Pops, I was hooked. I seem to remember me being the first to say it, and then there was a host of other people saying how the Top of the Pops performance changed their lives.”
Robert Smith of the Cure said: “He was blatantly different, and everyone of my age remembers the time he played ‘Starman’ on Top of the Pops.”
Gary Numan, who saw the performance when he was 15 years old, said: “I think it stands as one of the pivotal moments of modern music, or, if not music, certainly a pivotal moment in show business. It must have taken extraordinary courage and/or a monumental amount of self-belief. To say it stood out is an epic understatement. Even as a hardcore T. Rex fan I knew it was special.”