Filming: John, I’m Only Dancing

Mick Rock directed a promo film for David Bowie’s ‘John, I’m Only Dancing’ single on 25 August 1972.

The promo was shot at London’s Rainbow Theatre, where Bowie and the Spiders From Mars performed on 19, 20, and 30 August.

When the TV series Bewitched went into colour in the late 1960s, for some strange reason Samantha occasionally wore tiny tattoos on her face. I thought it looked really odd, but inspired. So I used a little anchor on my face myself for the ‘John, I’m Only Dancing’ video.
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Bowie wore a leather jacket for the shoot which made a reappearance in the promo film for ‘The Jean Genie’.

I’d just had a couple of very James Deanish jackets sent over from London, which I’d also worn in the ‘John, I’m Only Dancing’ promo. I felt they were perfect for the ‘American’ Ziggy’s video for ‘Jean Genie’, too. One for me and one for Cyrinda. Rock and I did a quick photo try out for them in the grounds of the [Beverly Hills] hotel.
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Rock’s film was shot with a budget of just £200. The video also includes scenes of Lindsay Kemp’s dance troupe, who appeared at the Rainbow Shows. That footage was filmed earlier in the week during the rehearsals.

The promo was rarely shown at the time, most likely due to Bowie’s manager Tony Defries’s demand that the BBC pay £250 to show it on Top Of The Pops. Instead they screened a member of Pan’s People dancing on a hilltop with a gang of bikers on the streets below.

Last updated: 25 April 2023
Live: Rainbow Theatre, London
Rehearsal: Rainbow Theatre, London
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