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The 1980 Floor Show
(18-20 October 1973)

The Marquee Club, 90 Wardour Street, London

See also: Featured Concerts Index
See also: The 1980 Floor Show Image Gallery
Radio/TV/Film/Video Index

Recorded: 18, 19 & 20 October 1973
Broadcast: 16 November 1973 (US Only)
Venue: The Marquee Club, 90 Wardour Street, Soho, London & television studios.
Producer & director: Stan Harris
Musicians: David Bowie, Mick Ronson, Trevor Bolder, Mike Garson (piano),
Mark Carr Pritchard (guitar) & Aynsley Dunbar (drums)
The Astronettes (Geoffrey MacCormack, Jason Guess & Ava Cherry): backing vocals
Rocco Urbisci: creative consultant
Jaques Andre: associate producer
Matt Mattox: choreography
Freddi Burretti: costumes
Barbara Daley: make-up
Natasha Korniloff: Amanda Lear's costume in "Sorrow"
Billy The Kid: Hair
George Underwood: Graphics
Ken Scott & Ground Control (Robin Mayhew): Sound Mix

The 1980 Floor Show (a pun on the song "1984" - 19-Eighty-Floor) was the first appearance of David Bowie since his much publicised retirement on 3 July 1973 at the Hammersmith Odeon.  It was also to be his last appearance as "Ziggy Stardust".  The show itself was a spectacular stage production that was filmed over 3 days, mostly at The Marquee Club, Soho, London for the American NBC TV late night show The Midnight Special.

The idea for the show came when Bowie was approached by Burt Sugarman to create something for The Midnight Special rock series.  Bowie's idea was a highly theatrical cabaret extravaganza featuring himself and various rock groups from the 60's performing in a futuristic setting. Michael Lipman, a Los Angeles lawyer specializing in the music industry, set up the deal in which Bowie was to have complete artistic control. When news of the forthcoming event became public, the UK newspapers cried that the Americans had netted the "pop scoop of the year" and bemoaned the fact that no clips were to be made available for UK TV.

The result was edited down to fit the one-hour rock series slot and was shown on American NBC-TV on 16 November 1973. Apart from segments for Top of the Pops it has never been fully screened in the UK. While still regularly screened on US TV, the show is unfortunately still not available commercially in any form.

The first day of the 1980 Floor Show was reserved for filming at a studio - while the actual filming at the Marquee was carried out on the 19th & 20th October.  Bowie personally chose the setting for the show, after first considering the possibility of a full-scale live concert (rejected by the NBC as too expensive).

"There were a lot of clubs to go to in the Soho scene in the 60's but The Marquee was top of the list, because musicians did hang out there, pretending to talk business and picking up gigs - but picking up girls mostly. One of my keenest memories of The Marquee in the '60's was having a permanent erection because there were so many fantastic looking girls in there, it was all tourists, especially in summer, all flocking to London to get an R&B star. My final performance of Ziggy Stardust was at The Marquee. I wanted to go back there because I had so many good memories over the years. We changed the place completely and for 3 days we filmed what became 'The 1980 Floor Show'. I had The Troggs on with me and then got Marianne Faithfull to duet with me on a version of Sonny & Cher's 'I Got You Babe'. I dressed Marianne in a nun's habit with the back cut out and I dressed as the Angel of Death!" - Bowie

The Marquee Club itself was a famous London performance venue where Bowie had watched many R & B giants of the 1960s perform and had himself played in the 1960s as a support act. It quickly outgrew its first location, on Oxford Street, and moved to 90 Wardour Street in 1964, where the Rolling Stones, Yardbirds, The Who, Small Faces, Spencer Davis Group and every other important band was showcased, along with Jimi Hendrix, the Byrds, the Lovin' Spoonful and other visiting American bands. It no longer exists today, having been demolished. While illustrious as a venue, the Marquee in 1973 was small, cramped and shabby and this necessitated a number of enforced changes for the benefit of television.   Much to the horror of the Marquee staff and club owner Jack Barrie, the stage and back-drop were completely rebuilt and the walls and ceilings repainted black.

The Marquee's October 1973 programme
The mysterious listing for 18-20 Oct showed no artist name and instead read:

"LUCKY FOR SOME....UNLUCKY FOR MANY! On Thurs, Fri & Sat 18th, 19th & 20th October NBC T.V. have taken the Marquee for FILMING & LIVE Recordings of some Very Special Artistes.  There will be a very few tickets available for each of the evenings...Details will be posted within the Club."

Admission to the show was by invitation only and those who attended included 200 democratically selected (by ballot) members of the newly formed International David Bowie Fan Club, rock luminaries, staff and patrons of The Marquee and selected musical press -  all keen on seeing Ziggy rise from the grave to perform one last time. Included in this exclusive audience were Angie and Zowie, Tony Visconti and Mary Hopkins, Lionel Bart, Dana Gillespie, Long John Baldry and Wayne County.

The show also featured Marianne Faithfull, The Troggs and a Spanish vocal group called Carmen. This was to be the last time that Mick Ronson and Trevor Bolder played with Bowie as Spiders.

Bowie's Free For All - Chris Welch (Melody Maker - 1973)
At The Marquee - Mick Rock (Music Scene - January 1974)

Bowie's performance on Saturday the 19th October, went on for 10 hours as each song was performed and filmed over and over.  Because of the small size of the Marquee, only two cameras were able to film and so each song was shot, as many as five to six times, to allow for camera re-positioning and the overall satisfaction of Bowie and the film crew.   The whole thing was, according to Bowie later, "shot abysmally."   The fans, of course, loved the fact that they got to see their hero perform many times over.  During the intervals between takes, and despite having just recovered from a recent bout of influenza, Bowie laughed and joked with the audience and signed autographs.

As well as featuring popular Ziggy material, the show  was used to preview PINUPS (1973) and upcoming DIAMOND DOGS (1974) material; namely "1984". 

The songs performed were:

1984/Dodo (Bowie)
Sorrow (Bowie)
Bulerias (Carmen)
Everything's Alright (Bowie)
Space Oddity (Bowie)
I Can't Explain (Bowie)
As Tears Go By (Marianne Faithfull)
Time1 (Bowie)
Wild Thing (The Troggs)
The Jean Genie (Bowie)
Rock n Roll Suicide (Bowie) - not broadcast
20th Century Blues (Marianne Faithfull)
I Got You Babe (Bowie/Marianne Faithfull)

1Included on RARESTONEBOWIE (1995)

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---This page last modified: 11 Dec 2018---

Ziggy Stardust Scarf (1973)