The release‘Golden Years’ was released as a single on 17 November 1975. Its b-side worldwide was the Young Americans song ‘Can You Hear Me’, except in Venezuela, where it was issued in March 1976 with ‘TVC 15’.
An edited version of ‘Station To Station’, lasting 3:40, was a promotional single circulated to French radio stations in February 1976, with ‘TVC 15’ on the b-side.
‘TVC 15’ was released as a single in April 1976 in Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, the UK, and USA, issued to coincide with the European leg of Bowie’s Isolar Tour. Its b-side was the Diamond Dogs song ‘We Are The Dead’.
The single contained an edit which reduced the running time from 5:33 to 3:37. That edit was included on Re:Call 2 in the 2015 box set Who Can I Be Now? (1974–1976). The most notable change was the omission of the second verse (“Maybe if I pray every, each night I sit there pleading…”).
On 16 April 2016 a picture disc single of ‘TVC 15’ was released for Record Store Day. Its b-side was a new edit of Harry Maslin’s 2010 remix of ‘Wild Is The Wind’.
David Bowie performed ‘TVC 15’ throughout the Isolar Tour in 1976. A recording from 23 March 1976 is available on Live Nassau Coliseum ’76.
The following year he performed the song during his Saturday Night Live set on US television, during which he wore a women’s pencil skirt and jacket. Also on the stage was a toy poodle with a miniature TV monitor in its mouth, displaying the performance as it happened.
Bowie’s backing singers during the show were Klaus Nomi and Joey Arias.
He told us he had three ideas for costumes: One was going to be this Bauhaus outfit; the next was going to be a Chinese airline stewardess with a pink poodle; and the third one was going to be puppets. He gave us a few thousand dollars to buy outfits, which was like $10,000 at the time, and we found these Thierry Mugler outfits for sale at Henri Bendel – like, $100 each. When the saleswoman brought it out, Klaus just grabbed it from her hands and ran into the dressing room. It was very much a ‘this is it’ moment.
Bowie sang ‘TVC 15’ during the Serious Moonlight Tour in 1983, and the Sound + Vision Tour in 1990. He also opened his Live Aid set with the song in July 1985.
Only infrequently have I written things for a particular generation, things like ‘Rebel Rebel’. Those kind of songs are odd for me to sing now. I haven’t done ‘Rebel Rebel’ since the Glass Spider thing. It felt odd then and it feels odder now, placed in with a lot of other songs that I have no problem with, like ‘TVC 15’, ‘Station To Station’. Those things fit like a glove, I feel like I could do those forever.
Q Magazine, April 1990