David Bowie – The 1980 Floor Show

The 1980 Floor Show (a pun on the song “1984″ – 19-Eighty-Floor) was the first appearance of David Bowie since his much publicised retirement on 3 July 1973 at the Hammersmith Odeon.  It was also to be his last appearance as “Ziggy Stardust”.  The show itself was a spectacular stage production that was filmed over 3 days, mostly at The Marquee Club, Soho, London for the American NBC TV late night show The Midnight Special.

The idea for the show came when Bowie was approached by Burt Sugarman to create something for The Midnight Special rock series.  Bowie’s idea was a highly theatrical cabaret extravaganza featuring himself and various rock groups from the 60′s performing in a futuristic setting. Michael Lipman, a Los Angeles lawyer specializing in the music industry, set up the deal in which Bowie was to have complete artistic control. When news of the forthcoming event became public, the UK newspapers cried that the Americans had netted the “pop scoop of the year” and bemoaned the fact that no clips were to be made available for UK TV.

The result was edited down to fit the one-hour rock series slot and was shown on American NBC-TV on 16 November 1973. Apart from segments for Top of the Pops it has never been fully screened in the UK. While still regularly screened on US TV, the show is unfortunately still not available commercially in any form.

The first day of the 1980 Floor Show was reserved for filming at a studio – while the actual filming at the Marquee was carried out on the 19th & 20th October.  Bowie personally chose the setting for the show, after first considering the possibility of a full-scale live concert (rejected by the NBC as too expensive).

“There were a lot of clubs to go to in the Soho scene in the 60′s but The Marquee was top of the list, because musicians did hang out there, pretending to talk business and picking up gigs – but picking up girls mostly. One of my keenest memories of The Marquee in the ’60′s was having a permanent erection because there were so many fantastic looking girls in there, it was all tourists, especially in summer, all flocking to London to get an R&B star. My final performance of Ziggy Stardust was at The Marquee. I wanted to go back there because I had so many good memories over the years. We changed the place completely and for 3 days we filmed what became ‘The 1980 Floor Show’. I had The Troggs on with me and then got Marianne Faithfull to duet with me on a version of Sonny & Cher’s ‘I Got You Babe’. I dressed Marianne in a nun’s habit with the back cut out and I dressed as the Angel of Death!” – Bowie

Track Listing

1984/Dodo (Bowie)
Sorrow (Bowie)
Bulerias (Carmen)
Everything’s Alright (Bowie)
Space Oddity (Bowie)
I Can’t Explain (Bowie)
As Tears Go By (Marianne Faithfull)
Time1 (Bowie)
Wild Thing (The Troggs)
The Jean Genie (Bowie)
Rock n Roll Suicide (Bowie) – not broadcast
20th Century Blues (Marianne Faithfull)
I Got You Babe (Bowie/Marianne Faithfull)

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