The TV premiere of ‘Drive-In Saturday’ was on 17 January 1973, during an appearance on Russell Harty Plus, first shown in the UK three days later.
This was David Bowie’s first chat show appearanve, and in addition to the performance of ‘Drive-In Saturday’ with the Spiders From Mars, he also gave a solo performance of ‘My Death’.
The recording was later wiped by the producers LWT, although a partial repeat on the Russell Harty Plus Pop show contained ‘Drive-In Saturday’ and most of the interview. Audio exists of the full exchange and ‘My Death’.
The performance of ‘Drive-In Saturday’ was included on 1993’s The Video Collection, and the song plus the interview were issued on 2002’s Best Of Bowie.
On 17 January we appeared on Russell Harty Plus, a London Weekend TV show, to promote our next single, ‘Drive-In Saturday’. We brought along a French make-up artist called Pierre La Roche, who had worked for Elizabeth Arden, and Freddie Burretti to handle clothes. I had a new, more tailored jacket that Freddie had made, a black, white and red striped affair together with red trousers. It looked great but was almost impossible to play in, being too tight around the sleeves. It’s a good job we were miming! I also wore a shirt and tie. Mick had a new black satin jacket. Bowie was clad in a multicoloured suit with red velvet lapels, padded shoulders, a green shirt and metallic looking cravat and wore what has been described as a ‘chandelier’ earring on one ear. He’d also shaved off his eyebrows for this show so he looked even more alien than usual.
We played ‘Drive-In Saturday’ and Bowie did a live acoustic version of ‘My Death’. Between the two numbers he was interviewed by Russell Harty who was – from today’s point of view, anyway – completely wrong for an interviewer who was supposed to be in touch with music that teenagers liked. I remember Bowie having to be on his guard during the interview. Harty was obviously trying to trivialize him, asking him pointed questions about the content of fan letters he received, which I thought created a slightly nasty undercurrent given that this was supposed to be an entertainment show.
Bowie didn’t bat an eyelid, though, and when questioned about the shoes and tights he was wearing he famously told Harty, ‘Don’t be silly’ …
We watched him perform ‘My Death’ on one of the studio monitors and for me it was probably his best ever version of it. Unfortunately London Weekend managed to lose the recording. That said, our performance on this show was probably responsible for ‘Drive-In Saturday’ remaining in the charts for ten weeks after its release in April, peaking at Number 3.
Spider From Mars: My Life With Bowie
Bowie continued to perform ‘Drive-In Saturday’ during some of the remaining Ziggy Stardust Tour dates. For the following Diamond Dogs Tour, he performed it on an acoustic guitar, accompanied by David Sanborn on saxophone.
In 1999 Bowie began singing the song once again during the promotional tour for the ‘hours…’ album. This included performances for VH1 Storytellers on 23 August 1999, and two days later for BBC Radio 1’s Mark Radcliffe show.