Live: The 1980 Floor Show, Marquee Club, London

David Bowie’s stage production The 1980 Floor Show began the first of three nights on 18 October 1973.

The variety show was staged at London’s Marquee Club. It was filmed by NBC and broadcast in America on 16 November in the series The Midnight Special.

On this first night there was no audience, as the focus was on filming sequences and ironing out final issues. Filmed on this day were the opening titles, featuring dancers spelling out the show’s title with their bodies. The choreographer was Matt Mattox. Marianne Faithfull performed Noel Coward’s ’20th Century Blues’, and Bowie sang ‘Sorrow’.

We lost money from Bowie initially, but that made itself back fifty times over. We did lose money, like, you remember the Rainbow show we did? We lost about six or seven thousand pounds on that just in the production. But it was worth it, because Dave was doing what he wanted to do, and he didn’t care about money, and I’m the same.
Mick Ronson
Melody Maker, 5 April 1975

The 1980 Floor Show was designed to give Bowie some much-needed exposure in America. Although he was a household name by this point, a final US leg of the Ziggy Stardust Tour had been cancelled due to poor ticket sales.

At that time no one would book us. We were considered a freaky band, and got booed at every gig we did. The only place that would let us play regularly was The Marquee, and then only on Saturday afternoons for a free audience.
David Bowie
Moonage Daydream: The Life And Times Of Ziggy Stardust

The show was Bowie’s final appearance at Ziggy Stardust. It also included performances by Marianne Faithfull, The Troggs, and Carmen. The compere was Amanda Lear.

Because of Burgess’s use of Russian words and street slang in the novel A Clockwork Orange, I got quite passionate about the Russian underground for a couple of months, and for the 1980 Floor Show even renamed Amanda Lear ‘Octobriana’ after the Russian radical comic book heroine.
David Bowie
Moonage Daydream: The Life And Times Of Ziggy Stardust

Bowie’s band was Mick Ronson on guitar and vocals, Mark Carr-Pritchard on guitar, Trevor Bolder on bass, Mike Garson on keyboards, and Aynsley Dunbar on drums. The backing singers were the Astronettes: Ava Cherry, Jason Guess, and Geoff MacCormack.

The Marquee show, which was filmed over three nights from 18th to 20th October, was the last time that David and Mick Ronson were on stage together in the Ziggy period. This was the end of Ziggy Stardust. It would have been called 1984 but David couldn’t get the rights for the book from Orwell’s widow, so he decided to call it the 1980 Floor Show. A simple play on words. I also wrote a piece on it for Rolling Stone.
Mick Rock
Moonage Daydream: The Life And Times Of Ziggy Stardust

The setlist

  • ‘1984’/‘Dodo’
  • ‘Sorrow’
  • ‘Bulerias’ (Carmen)
  • ‘Everything’s Alright’
  • ‘Space Oddity’
  • ‘I Can’t Explain’
  • ‘As Tears Go By’ (Marianne Faithfull)
  • ‘Time’
  • ‘Wild Thing’ (The Troggs)
  • ‘The Jean Genie’
  • ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide’
  • ’20th Century Blues’ (Marianne Faithfull)
  • ‘Can Not Control Myself’ (The Troggs)
  • ‘Strange Movies’ (The Troggs)
  • ‘I Got You Babe’ (David Bowie and Marrianne Faithfull)
  • Top prize for silliness went to the outfits for our interpretation of Sonny and Cher’s ‘I Got You Babe’, which I sang in due with Marianne Faithfull. Because of her convent background, I felt Marianne would carry the moment superbly as a nun, albeit without a back panel to her habit, revealing her splendid arse. Not shown on the tele, natch.

    As we had lots of vinyl lying around, I opted for a shiny red Angel of Death, with black feather wings on the chest. Daft? You bet.

    David Bowie
    Moonage Daydream: The Life And Times Of Ziggy Stardust

    The costumes for The 1980 Floor Show were designed by Freddie Buretti, Kansai Yamamoto, and Natasha Korniloff.

    Among the new costumes for the 1980 Floor Show was a keyhole motif. I saw something like it originally pictured from Tristan Tzara’s 1923 production La Coeur à Gaz (the Gas Heart), inspired by the Zurich-based cabaret voltaire movement.

    I have always loved Tristan Tzara’s outrageous stage clobber (which was designed by Sonia Delaunay) and eventually, in the late Seventies, staged three songs for Saturday Night Live based very heavily on his wonders.

    David Bowie
    Moonage Daydream: The Life And Times Of Ziggy Stardust
    Last updated: 17 May 2023
    David Bowie moves to 89 Oakley Street, London
    Album release: Pin Ups
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