Recording: Starman

David Bowie and the Spiders had been invited to perform ‘Starman’ on the BBC’s Top Of The Pops after their manager persuaded the show’s producer Mike Moran to see them play a show in Croydon on 25 June 1972.

Tony Defries had been trying to get us on Top of the Pops for ages, encouraging the producers to come down and see us, but then we did a gig at the Croydon Greyhound and the BBC crew all came down, along with the producer, and that’s when we were offered the show. We had already done a TV spot or two, but this was the big one, this was the show that everybody watched.
Trevor Bolder
David Bowie: A Life, Dylan Jones

The Musicians’ Union stipulated that the music on Top Of The Pops had to be newly recorded, while vocals were allowed to be live. Ahead of the TOTP appearance, therefore, Bowie and the Spiders re-recorded the ‘Starman’ backing track and backing vocals at Trident Studios on 29 June 1972.

The ‘Starman’ performance was filmed on 5 July 1972, and broadcast the following day. The appearance earned Bowie instant stardom in the UK, ‘Starman’ raced up the charts, and paved the way for Ziggy’s success.

The single ‘Starman’ had been getting lots of airplay and was actually climbing the charts and we were asked to do Top Of The Pops, which was recorded on 5 July, to broadcast the next day. You may remember how massive that programme was in the seventies: if you were on it, everyone saw you. It had a huge viewing audience of between ten and fifteen million. This was a real milestone moment for us.

Since deciding to be a musician at fourteen, this was the show I dreamed of appearing on – and now it was actually happening.

Mick Woodmansey
Spider From Mars: My Life With Bowie
Last updated: 18 April 2023
Recording: John, I'm Only Dancing
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