Devout fans of David Bowie might remember when he performed “Starman” on Top of the Pops back in 1972, dressed in astonishingly tight snakeskin garb, but if you think this was the first time that he introduced his Ziggy Stardust persona you would be very much mistaken.
As the BBC notes, the first official televised performance of Bowie as Ziggy Stardust was on ITV, one full month before he took to the stage, flanked by the dazzlingly dressed Mick Ronson, on Top of the Pops.
With David Bowie originally introducing Ziggy on Lift Off With Ayshea, you might have expected that this first stellar and “holy grail” performance would have been saved for posterity by ITV. However, the footage was accidentally lost forever after a technician made a fatal mistake and erased the wrong tapes which had been dispatched to be digitized.
According to host Ayshea Brough, instead of erasing the duplicates of the performances that had been sent, the technician accidentally erased the original tapes instead.
“He wiped years of my life and performances, and everybody else’s performances. It’s a terrible thing.”
Some rare ITV footage of Ziggy Stardust has been found that predates the seminal Top Of The Pops performance of David Bowie's alter ego in 1972. This footage was filmed around a month earlier and is being called a Holy Grailhttps://t.co/ugxhQMkxlL
— Transponder TV (@TransponderTV) January 29, 2019
However, all was not really lost. As it transpires, a fan of David Bowie has saved the day by capturing the first Ziggy Stardust performance on their home video recorder. While it is certainly true that this recording has degraded to such a degree that it will need to be “baked” to see if the 1972 footage can actually be viewed, there is still a glimmer of hope.
If all goes well with mending the tape, the first-ever appearance of Ziggy is reportedly set to be featured in the upcoming documentary David Bowie: Finding Fame.
Speaking about the discovery of the lost ITV performance, director and producer Francis Whately stated, “For fans, it is something of a Holy Grail. It would fall apart if we played it, so it’s had to be very carefully restored. It will be a real coup if it comes off.”
A BBC spokesperson has said that they are cautiously optimistic about the chances of the 1972 tape surviving. “The footage has only very recently been discovered. We’re hoping it will be ready in time to include in the film.”
If you’re curious about how the restoration is going of David Bowie’s first televised performance as Ziggy Stardust, the restoration work is still continuing, and if the lost tape can be saved in time, it will be featured in the new documentary which is set to air on BBC Two in February.