Bowie Top Six #1: Starman, 1972

 ‘Style is about the choices you make
to create the aspects of civilization that you wish to uphold.’ 


‘David Bowie’ remains in Bardo for 49 days from his departure on January 10th, i.e.: another six nights. He is more present now in our consciousness than before his ostensible death, since when everyone else has had their say about Bowie, so why should not I? This is MY blog, remember, for me to express myself in any way I wanna! So I now present my Bowie Top Six, one per day, as my tribute to the original Starman, in transition from his carnate personae.

i swiped this pic from here

Bowie exploded into our collective consciousness on 6th July, 1972 via a performance on Top of the Pops that turned on the future pop stars of my generation.  A whole book has been written about those three-and-a-half minutes of television and rock historians from NME to MTV concur that this was the epochal moment when David Bowie’s Star was finally Born.

Certainly it was seminal. Boy George, Gary Kemp and Jarvis Cocker, to name but three, has each said that it was seeing Ziggy-Bowie doing Starman on TotP that made them want to be like him and do something like whatever it was he was doing. Whatever it was Ziggy-Bowie was doing, we’d never seen anything like it.

Never mind his designer catsuit; nor his pallid complexion vs. flaming orange coxcomb; and ignore that big blue guitar he’s strummin’, two of our hero’s gestures that fateful Thursday evening have assumed particular salience: Arm-draping & Pointing. It was in the way he interacted with Mick Ronson, the gold-clad
guitar star of The Spiders From Mars; the easy familiarity with which Ziggy-Bowie draped his left arm around Ronno’s
shoulders and leaned conspiratorially again him. It was in the way his
gaze sought the camera as he sang, ‘I had to call someone’ and then looked down the lens and pointed as he sang, ‘so I picked on you.’

Such bdding narcissists as Ian McCulloch assumed the Starman was speaking solely unto each of them. “All my other mates at school
would say, ‘Did you see that bloke on Top Of The Pops?’ He’s a right
faggot, him!'” Macc confided. “And I remember thinking, ‘You pillocks’…It made me feel
cooler.” Marc Almond recalls the battle lines drawn by the effeminate arm draping incident (right): “Next day, all hell broke loose in the
playground. Bowie was a queer, and if you liked him, you must be queer

Momentous it must have been, or has Bowie’s performance become ‘mythologised beyond
all proportion’ as lovecraft from Glasgow mooted online: ‘Recently (05-23-2013) it seems every new wave artist from Boy George, Spandau Ballet and a host of others are now claiming that this performance changed their lives, and was the sole topic of discussion in schoolyards across the land the following morning. Not so long ago no one thought much about this clip and now the chattering classes seem to rank it as a cultural event alongside the Beatles on Ed Sullivan or the Pistols on Bill Grundy. Did I fall into a coma and miss something or am I right and did this just happen overnight?’

I was still only ten years old in the Summer of ’72, too young to make Top of the Pops required viewing, but we happened to be visiting another RAF family on that fateful Thursday. They had older kids and had it on the telly in the corner of their lounge, in one of the more distinguished Officers Married Quarters. I recall the standard issue environment – personalised, no doubt, with nick-nacks collected as souvenirs of extensive foreign travels – with a bland patterned carpet upon which I sat cross-legged in front of the telly. I felt my cheeks flush as I watched this apparition, my attention aroused by a strange sensation I’d not felt before and could not put a name to, never mind discuss with the adults on the sofa. They barely glanced at Ziggy-Bowie and, beyond the odd tutt, were apparently unaware that the world had just tilted on its axis.
This really did happen and I witnessed it.

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