Live: Middle Earth, London

David Bowie performed a mime set at London’s Middle Earth club on 19 May 1968.

The club night took place in the basement of 43 King Street in Covent Garden. The night had previously been known as the Electric Garden.

In addition to Bowie, the eight-hour event also featured performances from Tyrannosaurus Rex, Junior’s Eyes, Ginger Johnson, Hapshash and the Coloured Coat, Edgar Broughton Band, Tibetan Mind, Christopher Logue, Exploding Galaxy, Mandala Jazz Group, Third Ear Band, Flame, Tyres, and Tales of Justine. The compere was BBC radio’s John Peel.

David played an unusual show at Middle Earth in Covent Garden along with Tyrannosaurus Rex, the Edgar Broughton Band, Tales of Justine, Third Ear Band and Junior’s Eyes – the ‘son of’ Tickle – led by Mick Wayne. For this appearance David had written a mime piece called ‘Jetsun and The Eagle’, a commentary on Chinese oppression of the Tibetan people after 1959. Marc would only have David on the bill if he did a mime piece and didn’t sing…

For ‘Jetsun and the Eagle’ David and I prepared a soundtrack containing what we thought might pass for Tibetan music, played on a Moroccan guitar-like instrument I’d bought in Portobello Road. We added improvised sound effects with saucepans (they were the ceremonial cymbals) and I read a narration written by David. For some reason he decided my American accent made it sound more like a documentary – maybe it was Ken Nordine’s Word Jazz that influenced his thinking.

Tony Visconti
Bowie, Bolan and the Brooklyn Boy

Bowie reprised the mime act during an appearance at London’s Royal Festival Hall on 3 June 1968.

Last updated: 16 March 2023
Radio: Top Gear
Radio: Late Night Extra
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